Today, on Insight for Living, from Pastor Chuck Swindoll. When one realizes the true condition of the heart without God and ponders the impact of his or her sinfulness, there is an emotional reaction when the truth of forgiveness and grace and God's overwhelming love pours over me. When I realize that God has reserved a home in heaven for me, a reprobate center, there is an emotional response. Down through time, Christians have debated the role of our emotions in determining God's will. Some would say that our feelings shouldn't be trusted. Others elevate our emotions and tragically bear the consequences of decisions that were based on emotional instincts. Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues with a helpful message he started, pointing us to the biblical precedence for using our feelings to hear God's still, small voice. And in the process, we'll be learning to strike a sensitive balance between facts and feelings. He titled his message, The Spirit and Our Emotions. We're in Romans.
I can't go to the next until I just deal directly with 17 and 18 because it's so pertinent today. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Getting even is not of God. Even though we all have in common the same thing, someone we can blame for wrongdoing, the response is not getting even. Respect what is right in the sight of all. Look at verse 18.
I love this. If possible, so far as it depends on you, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. You know what peace is? An emotion. Do you know that that's one of the ways you know the will of God? You have peace. Your heart is flooded with peace. Now here, he's talking about a sense of peace that is brought about by reconciliation. As much as it depends on you, do your best to get along with each other, to be at peace.
Never take your own revenge. Leave room for the wrath of God. Look at Acts chapter 17. Look at Acts 17, 16.
Here's another feeling. Paul is in Athens. He has just been busy about the work of evangelism in Europe, and when he comes down into Greece, he's waiting for his friends Silas and Timothy at Athens. And please observe in verse 16, while he was waiting for them, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was beholding the city full of idols.
It was said in those days there were more idols in Athens than there were people. Imagine that. And it provoked him. That's an emotion. Deep within his soul, he was burdened about the condition of that city. God gave the feeling to him.
Look at chapter 19, verse 17. It's another example of God-given feelings. This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks who lived in Ephesus, 1917, and fear fell upon them all. That's from God, because the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many of those who had believed kept coming, and please observe the fruit of fear. They were confessing and disclosing their practices.
Many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all, and they counted up the price of them and founded 50,000 pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing. Here is a feeling of fear directed from God, so much so that their secret lives were being confessed.
Their practices were being exposed. Ever been in a revival like that? I've seen that happen. I've seen people unable to keep it to themselves. I've seen groups where the Spirit of God is igniting the presence of his cleansing work, and people just come out with their secret sins.
It is from the work of the Spirit in the emotions of a person, so that here fear brings about that sense of confession. How helpful such emotions can be. My heart groans for you who have been in such constraint with your feelings.
You have been raised not to let them out, not to let them show, and I can guarantee you it's taken a toll on your home and family, certainly on the rearing of your children. Feelings are so much a part of this. They're not everything, but they're a part. Just as facts aren't everything, but they're certainly a part. Let me give you three necessary warnings. I think you anticipate them, but let me just state them, lest we go too far with this and get out of control. One is the, I would warn us against intellectualism.
That's one side. Refusing to allow our emotions to serve their proper function, focusing solely on facts, calculations, relying strictly on the intellect for one's walk with Christ. That's an intellectualism, and it can seize an entire student body, even at a seminary or at a Bible college, where of all things the students are pouring over the scriptures, but the climate of intellectualism can be so strong and severe, there isn't a warmth of devotion to Christ. I was warned before I went to seminary by a close friend, be careful that it doesn't damage your faith.
What a warning at a school where I was to be learning the truths of the scriptures, and he was right on target. It would be interesting to know how many lose their faith in the midst of an intellectual climate. There must be the presence of warmth and devotion to the person of Christ to counteract intellectualism. The other extreme, let's put this one down and I'll warn us about it, is emotionalism. Making emotions the heart and center of life, building foundations of faith on experience.
Emotional experiences, not biblical doctrines. We need both mind and heart. We need both heart and will. They need to be woven together like a God-given tapestry.
Must be there. And the third, I must add, is fanaticism. Fanaticism. This would be excessive and intense devotion that lacks balance, discernment, wisdom. Becoming so enthralled with a teaching that our emotions take control and our actions become bizarre. Bizarre.
Even unhealthy. For example, the cults. And we're back on this subject again and again it seems.
There is an exclusive, get these, there is an exclusive spirit. There are paranoid reactions. There is a single authority figure. There is the absence of openness to criticism and correction. There is blind loyalty. There is the missing of balance.
There is a lack of sense of humor. Characterizing one cult after another. I learned years ago heresy is nothing more than truth taken to extremes. So I warn all of us about this excessive fanaticism. So let me close by clarifying some traditional sayings.
Would that be perhaps a good way to do this? Let me pick four that come back to my mind. It's not that the statement is altogether wrong. It just needs to be clarified. Statement number one. Never trust your feelings. Never trust your feelings. That deserves quotations around it.
Remember hearing that? I think it needs to be tempered. It's the word never I stumble over. If peace, which is an emotion, is an affirmation that God gives us that we are in the nucleus of his will, you better trust it. You better be open to it or you won't know his will. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. As a matter of fact I would toss this one in too.
Another one we hear very little about is intuition. Women have us one up on this, men. So let's just live with it. You ever had your wife, you know, you go out to dinner, you're interviewing somebody over dinner, you're thinking about hiring them. You say, I think we'll go out to dinner and let me let my wife come along. So you're driving home, you had a good meal, there was no blow up, no argument, everything seemed fairly smooth. You're driving home, you think, well, what do you think? And she says, not the guy.
Not the guy. I mean, what was wrong? Don't know, I just have this little hinkly feeling, this little squiggly feeling down inside. And you say, you can't trust your feelings. Well, you ask, I'm just telling you, I just don't believe he's the one. I just don't feel good about it. I mean, now don't lift your hand up, but how many of you have gone ahead and hired and later regretted it and didn't know how to tell your wife?
I mean, that's a tough one. When you go back, you say, you were right. I have a man who tells me that the best way to lead his business is intuitive leading. And he said, I just know in my spirit when something's right or something's wrong.
That's a fine leader who is that wise. Sometimes the facts stack up in one way, but inside your heart, you sense, I don't feel right about this. You better not go ahead. The spirit of God is moving in your intuition and is igniting your mind. He is warning you.
This is not a go ahead green light. Wait. So there are times we better trust our feelings. Here's a second saying, experience proves nothing. Ever heard that? I've even said that. I've said a lot of dumb things, but that's one of them. I've even passed it on as true. It is true that there is a danger in reinterpreting scripture on the basis of some experience we have. Now that's unwise, but if I may go back to our middle of the night scene, that's one of those experiences that you better pay attention to. Suddenly you are awakened with this strong sense of either reassurance or uneasiness. Let me tell you a story on me that just keep you from being embarrassed.
I'll just embarrass me. I have the dubious record of the shortest pastorate in the history of pastors. I was a pastor of a church less than 12 hours. I was at a church and there was an opening that came in a nearby city and I looked into it. Cynthia and I went, we candidated.
I had a time with their board. I had dinner with the chairman of the board. We went through all of the process of getting counsel, talking with friends, thinking through the process and finally we came to that night for the vote. This church in Fort Worth called me to become a pastor.
I was to leave Dallas Grace Bible Church where we had a wonderful time of ministry with our friend Dwight Pentecost and we were to go to the Twin Cities of Fort Worth and begin a ministry at McKinney Memorial Church. Great, I remember driving home. It was night. There had been a wonderful vote, as I recall, unanimous vote.
Hot dog, that's the way to go. I'm driving back and I'm not saying much because I'm supposed to be excited. My wife thinks, boy, we've got to move, we've got to make plans now to find another place to live. We had our family, two of our kids by then and we started, you know, minds turning and boy, that night, I'll tell you, I was miserable. Here I was, a pastor of this church.
Last thing I remember when we left was this great big applause. Get in my car, drive back to Dallas. By dawn, I called the chairman of the board.
Bill? Yeah, I'm not coming. What, you just told us last night?
I know, I know. I've been a pastor for less than 12 hours. I'm no longer a pastor.
The answer is no. Why? Just don't feel right about it, Bill. You know, he was a real gentleman about it, though he does remind me on occasion that I have the dubious record of having the shortest pastorate in the history of evangelical church. I did. I was their pastor for less than 12 hours. He said, well, maybe we ought to talk about it and I knew we could talk about it until kingdom come but I would not be changing because I should not go.
I can't explain that. You know what it was? It was a feeling. It was a feeling and it was right. I am so glad that I finally admitted to my feelings. That experience proves something to me that I can think at the moment something's right and later realize it wasn't right.
It's not right. I had a wife say to me as she had broken up their marriage, I remember saying to my father as we were walking down the aisle to my wedding, I should not be here doing this. And my daddy said, keep walking, honey. Keep walking.
Not a good answer, Dad. Now I know there are feelings of panic when you think about getting married but this gal had a sense of assurance she ought not be in that aisle getting married to that great guy. Great guy. Fine gal. Marriage didn't work. You better pay attention to feelings like that.
And I'm sure that dad meant well. I mean, I've had grooms almost vomit thinking about walking down here and coming in that side door and walking in here. And so, you know, we talk about it. I just say go in there and vomit and come back. Let's talk about it. Say go vomit. Come back. Feel better. Yeah.
Breath is bad but I feel like maybe I can do it. That's okay. Now, if you really have that sense, we're going to cancel a wedding.
If you're absolutely certain, no, no, it's not that strong. So those kind of things I understand. But feelings like that need to be addressed.
Here's a third one. Experience is the best teacher. Let me add a word to it and I'll accept that statement. Guided experience is the best teacher. Experience alone is not the best teacher.
Guided experience is the best teacher. If you don't agree with that, try to lay your own brick wall. Try to build your own slumpstone wall. I can always tell when it's a homemade wall. The guy's always proud of it but it looks horrible. I always want to stand away from it. Because he said experience was the best teacher. Well, you needed a guide for that because that is awful.
Here's a fourth one. Let your conscience be your guide. Ever said that?
Wait a minute. Sometimes that's reliable. But a great deal depends on the condition of your conscience. What if your conscience is seared? Conscience is like a compass.
If the compass is faulty, you're off course. A conscience can be dulled, hardened, calloused. You know what else? Hey, get this. A conscience can be overly sensitive and shame-based. You can be reared by legalistic parents and given a conscience that drives you mad when in fact it has no business driving you mad. And you have to reprogram your conscience so that you start thinking correctly rather than as you were raised. Sometimes it takes the help of a therapist.
Sometimes it takes the lengthy assistance of someone who understands how we're put together. Sometimes a long-term friendship helps give grace to a conscience that has known only legalism. A conscience that is legalistic is not a good guide. A libertine conscience is not a good guide.
A calloused conscience is not a good guide. Let me say in closing that the message of Christ includes emotions. When one realizes the true condition of the heart without God and ponders the impact of his or her sinfulness, there is an emotional reaction, some greater in some than in others, but there is an emotional reaction. I have offended, I have grieved the heart of God.
I have put nails in Christ's hands with my sins. It does something to my emotions when I as a sinner realize that. When the truth of forgiveness and grace and God's overwhelming love pours over me, there is an emotional reaction.
I must admit that. When I realize that God has reserved a home in heaven for me, a reprobate sinner who was running in the other direction and he stopped me, turned me around in grace and brought me to himself, there is an emotional response. When I come to the death bed of a loved one or my own, there are often emotional feelings that pour out as I think of that friend, that loved one going home. Feelings of loss on this earth and joy for them in heaven. The music of the gospel is to be music with emotions.
Without it, it is devoid of impact. It is a professional performance and I'm not interested. The message of the gospel is to be delivered with emotions, not just intellect, otherwise it is devoid of passion and I'm bored.
And so are you. Meetings we attend that lack emotions are dull and routine assignments and we're better off doing a number of other things than that. They're devoid of encouragement and enlightenment. Don't be afraid of your emotions, my Christian friend. We provided enough boundaries here for you to understand they can get out of line and out of control, but for the most part in our evangelical, non-charismatic circles, we could go a lot further with feelings than we do. And I regret that that's true.
I would just love to know that as a result of what you've heard, it begins to make a difference in your affection for your mate or for your children, certainly for your God. I would love to know that you are giving yourself permission to get mad about the right things. I mean really mad.
I would love to know that you resent what is written in some of the newspapers so that in a sense of passion you write and you declare your convictions so the editor will read that you disagree with what he printed. I would hope that you would take a stand against sin in your life so that the rage against sin holds you back and gives you a life of purity. That's the right kind of anger. That's emotion. Give it permission to emerge.
Let it go. Let's pray. Lord God, thank you for these moments we have had together.
Thank you for the things to be learned from your book. Our eyes are being opened to the intimate work of the Spirit of God. As we fly closer to the flame, keep us from being afraid. Give us a quiet, calm, and reassuring sense of peace that our God is teaching fresh truth based on the bedrock of the Bible. Lord, loosen us up so that our range of emotions is not only broadened but begin to be expressed and even respected. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
Amen. Over the last three programs, Chuck Swindoll has raised our level of understanding about the Spirit and our emotions. It's our hope and prayer that this message and the entire series about the Holy Spirit has brought a whole new dimension to your relationship with God. This is Insight for Living, and to learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. You'll be glad to learn that Chuck wrote a book that parallels today's topic. It's called Embraced by the Spirit, the Untold Blessings of Intimacy with God.
To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash store. Bear in mind that while you're listening to Chuck's teaching today, you're joined with fellow listeners around the world. Many of them are just learning how to walk with God, and some are hearing about God's Holy Spirit for the very first time. But there's a common thread woven through all the messages we receive, and that's one of gratitude. God is using insight for living to transform the hearts of willing listeners through the power of our companion, the Holy Spirit. These transformational stories are made possible in part because people like you give voluntary donations. And if you're among those who give, let me encourage you with the comment we received. This person said, Chuck, I was having a really bad time in my marriage.
I was staring down the barrel of divorce. Your broadcast every morning helped me to weather the storm, be patient and wait on the Lord. Chuck, it took two years and we're headed to a much stronger relationship. I'm grateful I listened. I'm grateful you were there. Thank you so much. Well, this listener gave gratitude to Chuck, but it really belongs to those who partner with us. God is the one who changes lives, but He invites us to play a critical role in broadcasting the truth. To give a gift today, call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or go online to insight.org-slash-donate. Take it from Chuck Swindoll. There's nothing quite like the beauty of the great frontier. Great open skies, pristine glaciers with various shades of blue and turquoise mingled within them towering pine trees and all manner of wildlife. I'll tell you, Alaska is truly a masterpiece of God's creation. I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things, but honestly, nothing compares to the beauty in Alaska.
God is awesome. Come with us on the Insight for Living Ministries cruise to Alaska, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. When I'm in Alaska, I feel like I'm in an amazing painting created by God. Let yourself get lost in the majestic beauty. Spend quality time with those you love. Allow God to refresh your soul as you reflect on His Word and His goodness in your life. To learn more, go to insight.org-slash-events, or call this number, 1-888-447-0444.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Tomorrow, Chuck Swindoll will challenge us to think theologically about sickness and healing. Listen Friday to Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Spirit and Our Emotions, was copyrighted in 1993 and 2003, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2003 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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