In this episode
- An encouragement about your emotions
- The relevant segment of our audiobook
- Notes from the blog
- Episode blog post: What do I do when my feelings don’t match my faith?
- Podcast introduction: Yabo Obien
- Logo design: Jeff Lyons at Light & Story
- Original music: Makeup and Vanity Set
- Kindle version of Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by John Hendryx at Monergism.com
- Text for Precious Remedies provided by GraceGems.org
Welcome back to the Theodio Podcast, I’m your host Dan Kassis.
We’re walking though the book Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks. Along with a segment of our original audio production of the book, we provide commentary and fresh insight, bringing this work of classic theology to life for you.
These last few weeks we’ve been talking about how Satan goes for the heart of Christians, to keep us in a state of doubting and questioning our faith.
Two episodes ago we covered the specifics of how a true spiritual warrior fights sin in those situations. And then last time we sat down with a special guest to discuss what that looks like from a pastoral perspective. It was our fist interview here on the podcast. Please go back and listen to that one of you missed it.
This time we’re taking a hard look at feelings. How important are emotions in spiritual life? Do they indicate our level of maturity? Should we depend on them to know how close we are to God?
You’ve probably struggled with questions like those. Imagine a few scenarios with me to see what I mean.
Are you feeling it?
You’re at church on a Sunday morning. Or, the way things are lately, you’re watching your church’s service from home. People around you raise their hands as they sing from their hearts. You see expressions of heartfelt joy on their faces. Or maybe they’re commenting “Amen” and “Preach it, pastor” as the service streams along. And you long to experience these feelings with them. But it’s just not there.
You talk with a Christian friend, updating each other on your lives. A smile of joy breaks out on her face as she recounts an answer to prayer, a blessing discovered in the midst of struggle, or simply an appreciation of God’s goodness. You nod your head and smile, maybe even respond with an “Amen.” But you’re not really feeling it.
A pastor shares a huge announcement on social media. Everyone comments with “Praise God!” or a relevant Scripture passage. The post fills with thumbs-up, smiley faces, and hearts. You want to reply too, to join in the joyful revelry. But you don’t want to fake it either. Because the truth is your heart isn’t in it. And you wonder if some of the likers and commenters aren’t secretly like you.
A focus on feelings
Modern church culture emphasizes emotion. This reinforcement often begins with the first words spoken from the stage or altar during a typical service: “How’s everyone feeling this morning?” The thread continues with the first worship song – upbeat, pulsing, high-energy.
Sermon series and study materials focus on our feelings, or at least use them as connecting themes. We tend to see our daily troubles as obstacles to overcome or avoid so we can return to the state of happiness we assume is the default.
Popular psychology may play a role in this feelings-focused situation. But we must also look to our own human desire for comfort above and before all as, ironically, the frequent source of our discomfort.
Feelings vs. faith
Now, let’s be perfectly clear: Christianity is fundamentally about joy! Just do a quick word search on your favorite Bible app or online tool. Both the Old and New Testaments speak plentifully of joy. The Bible tells us God provides joy, Jesus engenders it, and the Holy Spirit multiplies it. We have so many reasons to experience joy that it’s easy to feel guilty when we don’t.
In Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices, Thomas Brooks writes Satan uses our joylessness to accuse us that we are not really saved. “Our estate is not good,” he says, “because [we] have lost the comfort and joy” we once felt.
Our enemy tells us that if we really ever belonged to God, our joy would have remained. In this subtle way he discourages us from continuing in faithful service to the Lord. If I don’t feel the love for God I once did, maybe I never really had it.
Well, here’s a reason to be joyful again: God in his Word never requires us to feel anything as a condition of salvation. He heartily encourages joy, to be certain, but he does not base our relationship with him on it. He bases our relationship with him on our faith in what Jesus has done for us. And our feelings cannot undo our faith.
Brooks lists five other things we should remember when we “don’t feel saved any more.” Let his words lead you to the Living Word as the source of your assurance, and not your fleeting and unreliable emotions.
I hope you feel more settled now about the struggle between faith and feelings.
Next time on the Theodio Podcast we’ll talk about failure. How do we keep pressing on when we continually fail in the same area of spiritual warfare? What do we do when persistent sin gets the best of us, and Satan uses that to discourage us?
Join us then as we learn together. Thanks for listening.