Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Emotions, Truth, and Freedom

One of the most precious and glorious and profound scriptures in all the Bible, I believe is also one of the most neglected.

John 8:31,32 says this:

If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

When this great passage is not neglected it is often used incorrectly by the world. You’ll see it on government buildings, and in political rallies of the most unbiblical kind. People sometimes think that THEIR idea of truth is what sets free. But of course, it’s the truth of God that truly sets us free.

Emotions, or the way we feel, often governs the way we act.

Ask any trained salesman, and they will tell you an old maxim that goes like this, "People buy according their emotions, and then justify their purchase with logic."

That’s just one example, of course. Much of what we decide to do or not do in life is decided by how we FEEL about it. And this is not automatically bad. Emotions certainly are a gift from God.

To be able to feel often means to be able to enjoy. To be able to feel often means that we don’t just live as robots, but that we live with zest and passion and compassion and focus and fun.

Of course emotions also may allow us to feel grief, despair, depression, rage, and misery.

But how do we take these wild mustangs of emotion and drive them into the corral, and train them to do what is best for them? To be able to value them, and not dread them? To get them to help us in making decisions in life that are wise decisions? Without becoming robots?

The answer is in the word TRUTH. As the passage says, The Truth shall make you free.

Let me make a radical statement here. I have tested this statement for many years, and found it solid. Like any generalization, there may be exceptions, but they are rare. This radical statement is solid. And here’s the statement:

"Whenever we are in bondage, in our minds or our emotions, it is because of error in our thinking."

Now this is actually good news, for three reasons:

1. We can limit the error that we take into our minds. We can’t eliminate it, because it assaults us through our eyes, our ears, and even internally from repetition of past error. But we can limit it. We can stay away from input that we know contains great amounts of error, whether it be books, TV shows, or a particularly destructive person.

2. We can fill our minds with truth. The most obvious source of this truth for the Christian is the Word of God. Secondary sources may be trusted teachers of the Word, including books, spoken messages, and so forth. But filling our minds with truth sets us free.

3. Our emotions are the result of our thoughts. And our thoughts are the result of what seems true to us. And what seems true may not be true at all. If you think a rattlesnake is inches from your face in the dark, it doesn’t matter one bit if it’s only a rope. Your heart will pound, your skin will perspire, your muscles may go rigid…you get the idea. It doesn’t matter what the truth really is in this case. What you THINK the truth is affects your emotions.

Now the reason this is good news, is that if you can limit the error you take in, and if you can fill your mind with truth, and if your emotions will respond to that truth, then you can be made free. Free in your thinking, free in your feeling, and free in your decision-making.

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