As a woman, I am often inundated with thoughts and feelings. The thing is, it is our thoughts that lead to the feelings, but unfortunately, a lot of the time, we behave as if the opposite were true. This has become all too prevalent in the church these days. (For of this sort are those who creep into houses and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts…) The Bible got tossed out, or became a mere “prop” to help “stage” what we want church to be, and feelings rule. Most especially in the so-called “women’s ministries”. It is a dangerous trend.
Feelings happen. It doesn’t really matter what it is that triggers a feeling. What matters is what we do with it once it occurs. Something can “feel” like the right thing to do, and end catastrophically when one actually does it. Some things in life that we are called to do, are not going to “feel good”, period! It never feels good to confront error, or evil. But someone has to do it.
I think it was J.D. Farag who stated in one of the videos of his that I watched lately, “it’s very interesting what the Bible says about thoughts. You should look into that sometime, you’d be surprised”.
Well, this morning I did that. I looked up both “thoughts” and “feelings”. Now, at one time, the only way to do this would be to pull out an exhaustive concordance and work your way down the page(s) and look up each verse. I used to do it that way, and it is very tedious. Thankfully we have computer programs like e-Sword now, to cut the task down to more manageable size. Funny thing, when I looked up “feel” and variations thereof, I found that the word “feel” appears only 7 times in the whole KJV Bible. Other iterations of it; “feeling” occurs a mere twice, and “felt” occurs only 5 times. (Not insignificantly, the word “feelings” is in the Bible ZERO times!) Interesting!
7 “feel”, and then 2 “feeling” + 5 “felt. Fourteen in all. Seven is the number of divine perfection or completion. Doubling that, emphasizes the perfection and 14 seems to often be related to sacrifices of atonement in scripture, and with deliverance and salvation. The fourteenth day of the first month is Passover, and the covenants God made with Abraham also were on the 14th of the first month. Jesus was crucified on the 14th day of the 1st month in 30 AD. The genealogy of Christ is given in two sets of 14. The phrase “fear of the Lord” occurs 14 times in Proverbs.
Guess what else? Every instance of the word “feel” was the one that means to physically feel by the tactile sense (touch), except for one instance, and that one is a translation of a word meaning “to know, or to experience firsthand”. None of them have to do with “emotional” feelings.
“Sorrow” occurs 70 times. and mostly pertains to life in this fallen world in general; sorrow in childbirth, sorrow in loss of relationship with our Creator, sorrow in laboring for our provision, and sorrow when the strength to do so disappears; sorrow in conflict, sorrow in death, sorrow in knowledge, (the more we understand about fallen life), Godly sorrow that “worketh repentance”, sorrow for the lost who have no hope, and some day, the eradication of all sorrow for Believers.
” Anger” occurs 234 times and of those 210 of them refer to God’s own anger, that has been kindled or that He plans to kindle against the wicked, plus 2 or 3 “righteous anger” incidents on the part of O.T. saints. Only 5 instances of the word “anger” are in the New Testament. and it is warnings against anger 4 times, and Jesus mentioning God’s anger once. “Joy” occurs 165 times; two mention the Lord’s own joy, one speaks of the brevity of the joy of the wicked, one refers to the fact that foolishness is joy to the man who has no wisdom (spiritual), there is no joy to him that fathers a fool, joy taken away when the nation of Israel (or anyone) is disobedient and unbelieving, all the rest speak of the Joy of the Believer or the Jews, (or God’s joy in His chosen nation when they were obedient). In the New Testament, joy surrounds the coming of the Savior, salvation itself, the Kingdom of Heaven, the joy promised to the faithful servant, joy at the resurrection of the Savior, Joy of John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb when Jesus in the womb of Mary drew near, joy in heaven over one saved sinner, joy in heavenly reward, joy in holding fast to God’s promises, future joy that no man can take away, joy in fullness of the Holy Spirit within the believer, joy in praying for others, joy in consolation and encouragement from the family of God, count it joy when facing diverse temptations because it strengthens your faith, and joy inappropriate for the unrepentant and haughty.
For the word “felt” it is the same reference to physical sensation, not emotion. It occurs 5 times, the first is when Isaac “felt” Jacob’s arms because Esau was hairy, and Jacob was trying to fool his father into thinking he was Esau. In Exodus, God pronounced a plague of darkness so deep that it could be “felt”. In Proverbs it refers to the many troubles of strong drink, including having been struck, but “felt it not”. In Mark, the woman felt it when her issue of blood ceased, and in Acts, Paul shook off the venomous viper into the fire and “felt no harm”. Of the two instances of feeling: Ephesians 4:19, “who being past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness” is the closest thing to “emotional feeling” in that it is a reference to the complete searing of one’s consciousness, and therefore refers to a lack thereof! The final one is about Christ’s own feelings: Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points, tempted as we are, yet without sin”, so even in that case, it is not about one’s own feelings, but rather empathy for the suffering of others.
If God never once spoke of “feelings” (emotional feelings) as an influencing factor in decisions on how we conduct ourselves, then why is it that today “feelings” have become practically sacrosanct to people? Even to the extent that if my beliefs offend your feelings, I could be prosecuted and maybe even go to jail for a hate crime?
Do you want to know what it says about our thoughts? There are 57 occurrences of the noun “thoughts/thought” and 65 of the verb “think”. For the most part, God mentions His thoughts many more times than He mentions ours, so which one do you think He considers more crucial for us to concern ourselves with?
In Genesis, Numbers, Judges, Chronicles and Job, the word is used “incidentally” rather than the subject of the verse or topic of the passage. An example “let them marry whom they think best”. In Ezekiel it refers to the evil thoughts of Gog, and in Daniel it refers to the evil thoughts of the Antichrist. In Matthew it is sometimes uttered by Jesus, in context of instructing or questioning the disciples, or pointing out the error of the Jewish leaders, but overall the theme of the use of the word is always stating how God’s thoughts are righteous, and higher than ours, and how the thoughts of the flesh are always only evil and vain. It is also for instruction for the believer, as to what things to set one’s thoughts upon. Other than that, Scripture tells us the Lord knows the thoughts of every man, and that thoughts of those who reject God’s law produce only evil fruit, the thoughts of the natural man are always partial to “self” (Haman), and that our conscience bears witness to whether our thoughts are righteous or evil, by accusing or excusing (Judas). If we are righteous by the blood of Christ, our conscience will accuse us, and grieve us when we sin (Peter when he denied the Lord). Acts tells us our thoughts limit God, I Corinthians tells us that when we are children we think as children, but when we mature, our thoughts should too. II Corinthians tells us we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and cast down “imaginations” (which is defined as all human intellect) against everything that exalts itself against the act of knowing God. In other words, the things that keep our minds occupied, like television, internet, and prevent us knowing our God and increasing our faith in Him by being in the Word.
Jesus didn’t think so highly of Himself that He considered it “robbery” when He is equal with god, to take the lowly form of man, and submit even to death, for our sake and for his desire to obey the Father.
Most importantly, what we think of Christ is the absolute most important thought we have, because it is possible to think we have eternal life, when we don’t, and the way to know is to search the scriptures. In other words, our thoughts can and often do deceive us. (Galatians 6:7).
Our thoughts should be controlled, focused on the things of the Lord, and our feelings will follow. The safest, most productive thoughts a person can have, are thoughts of God (As He has revealed Himself in His Word), God’s ways, God’s laws, God’s plan, God’s will, and His design for everything that He created. Like marriage, intimacy, maleness and femaleness, our bodies, government, conscience, the Earth, parenthood and how we raise and teach our kids, the list goes on and on. He should be our primary consideration in everything we say and do.
How are we measuring up? I don’t know about you guys, but I should be doing a lot better than I am in these things.
In Jan Markell’s broadcast on Saturday, she mentioned that many people seem to have taken the election of Donald Trump to mean we have “more time”, and have gone back to sleep. On the other hand, some (many) are just tired. And there is a difference between sleeping in apathy, and sleeping when in legitimate need of rest.
Life is stressful enough, we don’t need to hold onto worry and fear and loss and hurts. The way things are today, you can feel like you’re doing well for about five minutes before something else comes along to trip you up. The evil all around us is increasing by the second. We can’t expect for that not to effect us. But we have to depend on the Lord and submit our thoughts and hearts to Him all the more, because it is the Holy Spirit in us who can accomplish holiness in us, even in a sin-saturated environment. There is a season for everything, and that includes dormant seasons! So, if you are one of those folks who is more apt to be hard on yourself than anyone else is capable of being, there is legitimate “permission” to have those resting and stepping back periods. He calls them Sabbaths. When we are burdened, stressed, exhausted, hurting, or at our wit’s end, we have nothing in the way of compassion, grace or encouragement to offer others, those are the times we have probably disobeyed the “law of the Sabbath”, by neglecting to come aside and apart from the fray, and be still in the presence of the Lord. In this frenetic age, stillness is looked upon almost as if it were a crime. But it is still needful, because that’s how God designed us to be.
Based solely on the frequency of use of these words in the Bible, what can we surmise about them?
Well, here’s what I get from it:
Anger, like vengeance, may pretty much “belong to the Lord”, and there is not much “place” for it in the life of a Christian, unless it is “righteous anger”, and we don’t let it progress into sin.
Joy is associated only with the Lord, all else is false joy that will come to an end, and only fools take “joy” in what is evil. (It’s not actual joy, in that case).
Sorrow is a product of the fall, which brought decay, death, and curses.
Feelings have little purpose, and particularly they are not meant to lead us. but rather, we must lead them. Feelings follow thoughts.
Thoughts of man are inherently flawed, can be deceiving, are only evil and selfish in the un-regenerate man, and human thoughts can’t even comprehend the ways of God. Thoughts can be controlled and must be taken captive, and should, for a Christian, be molded according to God’s express will found in Scripture. To do that, we must study scripture, know scripture. and exercise discipline and control by the Holy Spirit. In God’s paradigm, thoughts issue from the heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked, must be guarded, and only God can know a heart. Worry and thankfulness can’t occupy the mind at the same time. Do not be anxious about anything, but instead, in EVERYTHING, be thankful and present your concerns and requests to God and His peace will fill your heart and mind. You gotta believe it to receive it. Faith is your key. Faith comes by hearing, so read (out loud) Philippians 4:6-7, and Psalm 34:4, then go read Jeremiah 29:13, and Matthew 6:33. Write them down, pin them to your bathroom mirror or tape them to your computer monitor, or in front of the kitchen sink. Refer to them often, until you “get it through your head”, and then keep them because you will tend still to forget again.
When you have been a Christian a while, it is so easy to forget what you already know. Like bad dietary habits, over time, we know what is good for us, and what is bad, but we make easy choices instead of good ones a lot of times. I tend to think in much too “black or white/ all-or-nothing ways. It may work when we are young, strong, full of energy to keep on until it’s perfect, but it isn’t realistic on this portion of the race, and won’t work over the long haul, because we get older, weaker, more prone to sickness, etc. For most of us, our sanctification (growth in the Christian walk) is nothing but baby steps during this time on Earth, so if you, like myself, have difficulty accepting “baby steps”, well, you’re just going to have to face facts, get over it, and accept what is. Because it is what it is! It’s baby steps or stagnation, growth or perpetual spiritual infantility. (Is that a thing? It is now, anyway!) As humans created in the image of God, we are conscious of our own consciousness. That is to say, we are able to think about our own thoughts. And we have power to guide them, change them, revise them. Here’s a little self-quiz:
Is God in control, sovereign over all, or isn’t He? Do you know it, or are you faking that you believe that when your actions and thoughts say otherwise?
Will He supply all my needs or won’t He?
Is His Grace sufficient or isn’t it?
For worriers, and stew-ers, dwellers, and mopers, it’s time we had our minds made up on these fundamentals, wouldn’t you say?!