Monday, April 14, 2008
Truth and Emotions (Transcript)
Here's something you won't find in the Bible:
“You will be emotional and your emotions will set you free.”
That may sound humorous, but there are actually therapists who think the solution to life's problems is to “vent”. To shout, scream, express your emotions for all the world to see, or at least in a closed room.
But there is a better way. 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.
I entitled this message “The Truth and Emotions” because I want to examine a little bit the relationship between emotions and truth.
Emotions, or the way we feel, often govern the way we act.
Ask any trained salesman, and they will tell you an old maxim that goes like this, “People buy according to their emotions, and then justify their purchase with the facts.”
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.
Error Brings Bondage
If you don't take away anything else from this message, please listen to this:
“Whenever we are in bondage, in our minds or our emotions, it is because of error.”
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, again, 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.
This can be very practical in some cases. For example, if you’ve learned from God’s word that a close relationship with Christ is the highest most wonderful thing in your life, and that material possessions are as dung by comparison...and if you’ve learned from God’s word that unnecessary debt is not wise, then when the Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman comes to the door with a $2000 machine that your emotions might have driven you to lust for a few years ago...instead of “feeling” like “I gotta have that Kirby!”, you might actually feel like, “that vacuum cleaner is emptiness to me. I don’t even feel like wanting it. I want to get back to my quiet time with the Lord that the Kirby man just interrupted.”
And you tell the Kirby man to have a nice day.
Now I’m not talking about wise thinking here. I’m not talking about thinking through the situations. Right now I’m talking about emotions. About feelings. And how with right thinking, with truth, the right feelings are there, right when you need them.
I’ve heard teachers say, "Don’t let your feelings make your decisions for you, use wise thinking." But they’re denying a normal thing, and that is the simple reality that SOMETIMES our feelings decide for us. And it’s important for those feelings to be directed by the truth that is deep within us.
Now let's make another point about truth.
All Scripture Is Inspired by God, But...
The Bible is a big book. The one I'm looking at right now has 1393 pages, just counting Scripture itself.
It's a big book. In fact, as you probably know, it’s actually 66 books written over many hundreds of years, and covering history over many thousands of years.
So there’s a lot of truth in that wonderful book.
Now the Bible itself says, in 2 Tim. 3:16, that ALL scripture is inspired by God and profitable. And I sure believe that. There is no scripture that should be left untouched or unread, from the genealogies of Genesis, to the obscure symbolism of Revelation.
But, having said that, we have to realize that when it comes to our daily lives, and truth that brings right thinking, which leads to right emotions, and good decisions, there are some Scriptures which are just plain more important than others.
There are some rich gems in the genealogies, and digging them out is a wonderful thing. But lets’ face it, there are some truths of the Bible that if we don’t have a good solid handle on, we are just plain messed up. And by “messed up”, I mean “in bondage” of one kind or another.
So let’s just look at a few examples of these foundational truths that set us free. There are many others, but these are a few examples of what might be considered “heavenly things”, eternal truths on which we are to set our minds. And they will set us free.
1. Jesus Is The Truth
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6
So all truth is measured by Jesus Christ. That doesn't mean that the red letters of your Bible, the words actually spoken by Jesus, are more inspired than the rest of the Bible. In fact, the Epistles contain some important information about Jesus Christ, and our relationship to Him, that you can't find in the Gospels with Jesus speaking.
After all, the New Covenant was not even put into place until Jesus died on the Cross, was buried, rose again from the dead, and ascended to the Father.
And this New Covenant is the basis for our relationship to Him who provided the Covenant, the Lord Himself. And so, critically important truth begins with the person and work of Jesus Christ.
It's about our relationship to Him Who is Truth.
That's a truth that can set you free.
Rom. 3:21,22 “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;"
Since the Bible teaches that our own righteousnesses are as filthy rags (another important truth), God made provision to give us His righteousness as a gift, by grace through faith in Christ. And when we believe in Him, we are declared righteous by God.
That's called Justification, and it puts us in a right relationship to the Lord, as though we had never been born sinful fallen creatures and had never committed a single sin.
There is no longer anything separating us from God and His love. He has declared us righteous.
That's a truth that can set you free.
3. We Died Too.
Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God, who delivered himself up for me.”
Rom 6:11, “Reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God, through Jesus Christ.”
Rom 7:6, “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound.”
Galatians 2:19, "For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.”
See, when Christ died on the Cross, in some mysterious way, we believers died with Him. We died to sin, and we died to the Law. And so we have become a new creation, a new creature, who loves Christ and hates sin in our very heart of hearts.
That's a truth that can set you free.
4. Unconditional Love and Acceptance
Rom 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”
Rom. 8 goes on to say that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ, the love of God.
God fully accepts us in the Beloved, in Christ. We are His Beloved, just as He is ours. God favors us. He shows us His favor, just as He does His love. God has become FOR us, and if He is for us, who can be against us?
That's a truth that will set you free.
5. The Fruit of the Spirit and /Being Filled With the Spirit
Rom 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
This is surrender. This is that wonderful fruit of the Spirit that comes into us, as we meditate, commune with Christ, surrender to Him, are filled with His Spirit, are walking in truth. This only comes from the word of God and the Spirit of God as we look upon Him. As we move our eyes from ourselves and onto Him. As we surrender to Grace, and get off the ground of Law.
Look how much the fruit of the Spirit and freedom from bondage go hand in hand.
Paul told the Galatians that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, and self control.
Do you see any bondage in those?
We can be emotional, but we aren't in bondage to our emotions.
As we are filled with the truth of Christ, and the truth of Grace, and the truth of who we are in Christ, and the truth of His great love and acceptance of us, we naturally respond in our thoughts, and our emotions, and as He promises, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”