Recently, God delivered me from the bondage of following feelings. For many years, I have had feelings: “Do this.” “Do that.” “Don’t do that.” I believed that it was God’s promptings in my heart. However, sometimes I would have feelings of “Do it” and “Don’t do it” at the same time, leaving me confused. Other times, I had feelings of defeat and doubt—feelings that I just didn’t measure up as I ought to and might never measure up.
Eventually, I started distrusting some feelings, but I still kept on following some of my feelings, until God finally broke through and showed me that they were not coming from Him. It is freeing to not have to worry about the conflicting feelings tumbling around inside, but just seek to hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him.
Our feelings can be very fickle and changing. Satan loves to make us feel bad about things that we shouldn’t, and guilty about obeying Jesus. God warns us not to trust our feelings, but rather obey Him and rest in the knowledge that we are obeying Him:
1 John 3:18-21 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
“Assure” (v. 19): “To convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary)
Sometimes, we have to actually convince our hearts of the truth, and convince our hearts that we are worthy to stand before God. Just because I have a feeling that I am doing something wrong (especially if I don’t know what I would be doing wrong) or that I am not worthy of the Lord does not mean that my feeling is correct. It could just be Satan trying to deceive me.
When we lack confidence toward God, we will be wimps and fail to accomplish God’s will in our lives. We will not feel worthy to ask God’s help to do what He wants us to do. But He has commanded us:
Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The word “boldly” comes from the same Greek word as “confidence” in 1 John 3:21 (above). God, our Father, wants us to come to Him boldly, without hesitation, so that we can receive His mercy and grace to help us in our times of need.
These times of need are not just physical needs, such as finances or health, but spiritual needs, such as times of temptation. Significantly, it is in the time of greatest temptation that we will feel least worthy to approach the throne of grace. With the tempter’s temptations running through our minds, we may feel dirty and unworthy to ask God for help. That is when we must realize that our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, knows just how badly we need His mercy and grace and is ready to answer our cry to Him.
Remember, God does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind:
2 Timothy 1:6-7 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
He also has not given us a spirit of bondage:
Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
He also is not the author of confusion:
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Take note: if your feelings lead you into bondage, they are not coming from God. If they make you feel jumbled and confused, they also are not coming from God. Of course, these statements must be taken in context of Scripture. Sometimes, on the surface, God’s way may seem like bondage, but it is not bondage. Following Jesus is never bondage.
God also has not given us a spirit of fearfulness about following Him. He wants us to step out as He leads and obey Him.
So, going back to the first passage, how do we know if we love in deed and truth so we can assure our hearts?
1 John 5:1-3 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Between these two passages from 1 John, we see that by obeying God’s commands, we can know how to love in deed and in truth. God’s commands include instructions about how to love one another, how to treat one another and how to have a great relationship with others. I am thankful that we don’t have to guess about whether or not we love others enough. We can know!
We also need to be careful about following “convictions” that have no direct command in Scripture. “Convictions” may actually be guilt trips that Satan or one of his agents have placed on us. I don’t mean that all convictions are false—God references personal convictions in Romans 14—but we must be sure that God has actually instructed us to have our convictions. I have had first-hand experience with this, coming from long years of bondage and guilt trips from commandments of men. It is why God has commanded us to ignore the commands of men.
Love God and keep His commands, and then you can have confidence toward God!