Monday, February 22, 2010
THE TYRANNY OF OUR EMOTIONS
Much to the detriment of our spiritual growth and maturity, many of us believers are still under the bondage of one very stubborn taskmaster: Emotion. I am all too aware of the common stereotype of us Calvinists: we're supposedly cold, robotic, non-empathetic and dull. Like most stereotypes these are dreadfully wrong; but presenting the "touchy-feely" Calvinist is not the aim of this post. The beast that I would like to destroy here is: The Thing that Ate Their Brains!
To our shame "unregenerate emotion" has blunted our witness to the world and made thousands of us prey for every pulpit pimp to come down the pike with a new revelation from a god. Why? Because when unregenerate emotion is on the bench, reason is prima facie evidence for a lack of faith. "Unregenerate emotion" declares "reason" to be antagonistic to trusting God. "Unregenerate emotion" is especially dangerous to a Christian because it negates discernment. The "pimp in prophet's clothing" can go virtually undetected because he tells the "unregenerate emotions" everything they want to hear. Most heinously, "unregenerate emotion"; like the traditions of men makes void the Word of God (Matthew 15:6).
I recall a discussion I once had with a dear friend regarding the then popular practice of "pleading the blood of Jesus". I explained to my friend that this nauseating phrase was not only unbiblical; but it also mocks our Lord's precious blood. The word "plead" only appears four times in the entire New Testament (38 times in the OT, but of course it would not appear with Jesus' blood there) and each time it is in the past-tense with nary a drop of Jesus' blood in the vicinity. The phrase mocks the blood of the Lord because it doesn't honor it as the invaluable propitiation for the sin of mankind that it is. It remands it to some sort of mystical, cartoonish force-field that protects even inanimate objects like your car or your lawnmower. Despite the fact that there is no biblical precedent or instruction for this practice (or any proof that Jesus' blood stops bullets or is better for a car than regular scheduled maintenance); my friend stated that he would continue the practice because he "felt" it was right.
Consider that ol' chestnut: "slain in the spirit". I've debated this topic a number of times with other believers who swear it's real and that it has happened to them. I've walked with them through the Scriptures and pointed out that there is no account of this phenomenon happening to believers even once. The only occasion that even remotely resembled this side-show attraction was when the men who came to arrest Jesus fell down when He told them who He was (John 18:7). And these men were certainly not believers; but were enemies of Jesus. Yet, in the face of clear reason, "unregenerate emotion" drew the reigns and made them reject truth.
Many have somehow allowed a false dichotomy to be forged between the mind and the emotions. As if in the act of saving us, God somehow left the mind unredeemed and it is now imperative that the mind and reason not be trusted. They believe that too much thinking is a foil to going deeper with God or seeing Him really "move" in their lives. The pulpit pimps sense this blood-in-the-water and stoke the frenzied feeling festival with the most outlandish of claims: "stomp on the devil's head", "speak your break-through into reality", "talk to your wallet", "tell cancer it has to go", "tell the devil to give you back your stuff". And we're supposed to judge angels (I Corinthians 6:2-3).
True regeneration includes the emotions. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul AND with all your MIND (Matthew 22:37). The heart and the mind are equally important; but the heart must be informed by the mind. The feelings must be informed and guided by the intellect. God did not create us with an internal civil war raging between our faculties; that's an effect of sin. Our intellect and our emotions should be working in concert allowing us to fully commune with our Creator. That goal can only be reached by divorcing our emotions from the flesh and uniting them with a redeemed, Christ-submitted, Holy Spirit-guided, Bible-renewed mind.
We must understand that our salvation and our standing with God are grounded in objective truth. The righteous life, death, resurrection, ascension and return of our Lord Jesus Christ are realities that make a difference for our real eternal destinies. This faith makes claims and proffers doctrines that must be intellectually embraced if ever our emotions will truly glorify our God.
Christianity, more than any other pursuit, is truly for the thinking man. Don't worry, when we contemplate with keen minds the majesty of God and the pure genius of the redemption that He has wrought for us more than enough emotional flooding will overtake our hearts.
Think. It ain't illegal . . . yet!
Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!! (Acts 17:11)