Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

A Gospel-centered explanation of feelings (part one)

Puzzling — but also good news

God’s Word commands us to feel certain emotions — like peace (Col 3:15), joy (Phil 3:1), contentment (Heb 13:5), and compassion (Col 3:12).

That’s puzzling — because we know we can’t change our emotions by sheer will-power.

But it’s also good news — because the fact that God gives a command also means that by His power He can enable us to obey.

How God changes our feelings

Many Scriptures show a cause-and-effect connection between faith and feelings —

  • Joy and peace come from believing (Rom 15:13)
  • The king has joy because he trusts in the Lord (Psa 21:6-7)
  • Peace comes from trusting God (Isa 26:3)
  • Because I trust in God, I will rejoice (Psa 13:5)
  • We don’t fear bad news because we trust the Lord (Psa 112:7)

So when I’m not feeling what God calls me to feel — there’s a problem with my faith.  I am not trusting something God has promised — and I am trusting some lie (Jer 13:25).

But when I turn from trusting lies, and prayerfully set my heart on trusting God’s promises, God’s power will strengthen my faith in Christ and my feelings will change.

A spiritual stethoscope

A stethoscope shows what’s happening in our hearts physically.  The sound of the heartbeat can reveal problems that need to be addressed.

In the same way our feelings show what’s happening in our hearts spiritually.  Our feelings can reveal problems that need to be addressed.

Specifically, feelings can show which promises of God we are NOT trusting — and which lies we ARE trusting.

Here’s some examples —

What’s going on in my heart if I’m feeling jealous?

  • I’m trusting the lie that to be fully satisfied I need a car like my neighbor’s.
  • I’m not trusting God’s promise that I can be overflowingly satisfied in Jesus Christ (Phil 3:8, 1Pet 1:8; Mat 13:44; John 6:35).

What’s going on in my heart if I’m feeling bored?

  • I’m trusting the lie that there is nothing to do that will capture me, thrill me, fill me.
  • I’m not trusting God’s promise that He is infinitely glorious (Isa 6:3), and that if I seek Him He will point me to the path which will bring me life and joy in Him (Hos 6:3; Psa 16:11).

What’s going on in my heart if I’m feeling impatient?

  • I’m trusting the lie that my timing is better than God’s.
  • I’m not trusting God’s promise that He ordains everything — even the timing — to bring me full and lasting joy in Him (Psa 31:15; Psa 139:16; 2Cor 4:17-18)

What’s going on in my heart if I’m feeling discouraged?

  • I’m trusting the lie that everything in my future is bleak — nothing in my future will bring me joy.
  • I’m not trusting God’s promise that He ordains everything to bring me full joy in Himself — and that through faith the Holy Spirit will encourage me with peace, joy, and hope (Rom 8:28-30; Rom 15:13; Psa 42:5).

The next step — fight!

Once we understand what lies we are trusting and what promises we are not trusting — we can take the next step and FIGHT.

We must fight the fight of faith

  • come to God just as you are, relying on Jesus’ blood and righteousness to cleanse and make you welcome before God (Luke 18:13-14),
  • confess your unbelief (1Jo 1:9; Heb 3:12-14),
  • ask for God’s help (Mark 9:24),
  • turn your heart from the lies you have been trusting (Mark 1:14-15), and
  • prayerfully set your heart on all that God promises to be to us in Christ Jesus (John 6:35; Gal 3:5).

When you do that — God will strengthen your faith, and change your feelings so you once again feel joy in Christ and peace in His promises.

Tomorrow …

Lord willing, tomorrow I will do part two and use this spiritual EKG to examine what’s going on when we are angry, boastful, discontent, and lustful.

Feedback, thoughts, comments?

I’d love to hear them.  Feel free to leave a reply below — thanks!

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(Clipart is from Microsoft Publisher.)

Category: Finding Peace and Joy


4 Responses

  1. Patty says:

    Thanks for this, Steve. Think I’ve tested and confirmed just about everything in your message today- every feeling, trusting lies rather than God’s promises, and finally having my feelings changed (through God’s grace alone).
    Praying that I am changed so that I am no longer content to wallow in my feelings. Sometimes I cling to them (feelings) like a life raft, only to later realize they were the anchor dragging me down.

    But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:57)

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your comments, Patty. It is deeply encouraging to hear your testimony. And yes, all thanks be to God for the victory He does give us in Christ.

  2. Natasha says:

    So true!! In the times of my life where I’ve had ample opportunity to be negatively emotional and instead have turned to the Word for inspiration, Jesus has amazed me with how my “feelings” completely change. Before I even know it, love replaces anger. Compassion replaces hatred.

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