Living By Faith Blog


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A Gospel-centered explanation of feelings (part two)

Listen to your heart

Yesterday I wrote about how feelings are like a stethoscope.

Just as a stethoscope can show what’s happening with my heart, feelings can show what’s happening with my faith.

The reason this is true is because there is a cause-effect relationship between what I’m trusting and what I’m feeling.

Faith in Christ brings peace and joy

When I am trusting all that God promises to be to me in Christ Jesus, the result is that I will feel peace and joy in Christ.

Which means that when I am not feeling peace and joy in Christ, there’s a problem with my faith — I’m not trusting God’s promises, and I am trusting the world’s lies.

So yesterday we looked at what’s happening in my faith when I’m feeling jealous, bored, impatient, and discouraged.

And today I want to look at a few more —

What’s going on in my heart when I’m feeling angry?

  • I’m trusting the lie that what happened has cost me permanent loss.
  • I’m not trusting God’s promise that what others meant for harm He means for good — especially the greatest good of even more joy in Himself (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28-30; 2Cor 4:16-18).

What’s going on in my heart when I’m feeling boastful?

  • I’m trusting the lie that what I’ve done was ultimately my own doing and displays my superiority.
  • I’m not trusting God’s promise that anything good I’ve done was a gift given to me by God’s grace alone, bought through Jesus’ agony on the Cross, and that God alone has any superiority (1Cor 1:28-30; 1Cor 4:7; 1Cor 15:10).

What’s going on in my heart when I’m feeling fearful or worried or anxious?

  • I’m trusting the lie that there is something in my future that will devastate me.
  • I’m not trusting God’s promise that He will give me everything I need (Mat 6:33; James 1:5; Phil 4:19; 2Cor 8:9), and that every trial will bring me even more joy — either the joy of watching God deliver me from the trial — or the joy of His nearness sustaining me in the trial (Psa 50:15; 1Pet 4:12-13; Rom 8:13).

What’s going on in my heart when I’m desiring something else more than Christ?

  • I’m trusting the lie that to be fully satisfied I need more money, fame, a job, or a promotion.
  • I’m not trusting the promise that it’s in God’s presence that there is fulness of joy forever (Psa 16:11).

What’s going on in my heart when I’m feeling disappointed?

  • I’m trusting the lie that my joy depends on something that did not happen.
  • I’m not trusting the promise that every seeming disappointment is a gift of even more of the greatest joy — the joy of Christ (2Cor 4:16-18; 1Pe 1:6-7). 

What’s going on in my heart when I’m feeling discontent?

  • I’m trusting the lie that there’s something I don’t have that I need in order to be fulfilled.
  • I’m not trusting the promise that Jesus Christ Himself is all I need for my heart to be filled to overflowing (John 4:13-14; John 6:35; John 7:37-39).

What’s going on in my heart when I’m feeling vengeful and unforgiving?

  • I’m trusting the lie that the pain someone caused gives me the right to hold it against them.
  • I’m not trusting the promise that the joy I have in Christ will soothe every pain (Matt 18:24,28), and that what I rightly deserve is eternal punishment (Mat 18:32-35).

How can these feelings change?

So we’ve unpacked what’s behind these feelings — but how can I change these feelings?

God will change them, by the power of His Spirit, when we

  • humble ourselves before Him,
  • cling to Christ as our only righteousness
  • confess our unbelief
  • ask for the heart-changing power of His Spirit
  • turn our hearts from the lies we’ve been trusting
  • set our hearts on the promises we need to trust
  • pray over those promises until we feel the Spirit changing our hearts, giving us faith, and satisfying us with a taste of Jesus’ presence.

Does this make sense?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to leave a reply below — thanks.

If you know someone who would benefit from reading this, email it to them with the “share” button below — or share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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Here’s more on overcoming anger and unforgiveness.

And here’s more on overcoming fear and worry.


(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher clipart.)

Category: Finding Peace and Joy


7 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Steve,

    A thought came to me as I was reading all these feelings (idols) they all fall in the category of failing to obey the first commandment. Our feelings show that we are not trusting in what God commands, to have no other idols before Him. We cannot separate obedience from faith, if I disobey His commands it’s because I want to decide what will satisfy me. Jesus said that if we truly love Him then we would follow His commands, if we continue in sin, or trusting in idols, then we don’t truly love Him. I know it’s not popular to tell people to examine their faith to see if it’s real, but if we are not following God’s commands, we shouldn’t say we love Him.

    Following Jesus requires a full commitment, it’s not something we can do halfheartedly, if our lifestyle looks just like the world, but we go to church on Sunday, we are fooling no one other than ourselves.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Paul. I agree — it’s not just our feelings that show the true state of our faith — it’s also our obedience.

      And as you know — the good news is that when my heart is messed up and I’m struggling with obedience, I can turn to Jesus as I am, confess, trust, ask, trust some more — and He will send the Spirit to change me. Glory!

  2. Paul Walton says:

    I was thinking about how our emotional feelings are like physical pain they are letting us know that there is something wrong. When we honestly take an account of our spiritual lives and become transparent to others in the body of Christ, then we see true growth. I know of many who say they are following Christ, but they are living just like the world, and they wonder why they have no joy. People are good at hiding their sins from others, and covering themselves with fig leaves, but sooner or later we must decide who we are serving, ourself or Christ. Playing with Christianity is dangerous, Jesus said in the book of Revelation He despises us being lukewarm about Him, and you know the rest of that verse, not a pretty description.

    • Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

      Well said, Paul!

      You are absolutely right by saying that we must decide whom we serve. It’s not our duty to please men but God alone. This is not easy as I recently experienced (Ouch!)…


      • Paul Walton says:

        What’s sad about how most folks judge if a church is “successful” is the size of it, and not by the truth that is being preached there. It’s easy to fill a large church with a message that will tickle people’s ears, but void of any real powerful gospel truth. That even the great apostle Paul would not have measured up to most folks notion of “fruitfulness” and prosperity. In both of his epistles to Timothy Paul ends by noting how many unfaithful former companions forsook him when the cost of standing firm became too high. Paul was neither popular nor “fruitful” by the world’s standards, our church (Mercy Hill) is small in number but full of love and truth, and I thank God that He lead me to this body, and Pastor Steve Fuller.

  3. Ron R. says:

    Well Steve…I have a confession to make. I avoided reading these two days of your blog. I hadn’t been feeling well (cold etc) and just didn’t want to think that my feelings could actually be an indication of me not trusting God. You wrote these blogs on February 7th and 8th and it is now February 25th. During this whole time the Holy Spirit kept prompting to read your blog- but I refused. So…today, as I was wrestling with God about this I finally decided to read them. WOW!!! Why did I wait sooo long? Instead of being convicted (although I was)- I found that I was more encouraged that I could actually go to the LORD when I am sick and my feelings just aren’t that good. When I give him my feelings and rely on his Joy he changes my heart and my feelings and attitude. Keep up the Good Work Steve.

    A very grateful brother!

    Ron R.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you SO much for sharing this, Ron. It’s encouraging to hear how God used His Word to change your heart and feelings and attitude. What a Savior!

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