Self – Part 5

In Mark 8:33-38, Jesus gives us an ultimatum: die to self – or being controlled by our feelings/emotions or we cannot “come after [Him]” for salvation[1]. The reason Jesus possessed such a negative view in relation to self or our feelings, is because He knew them to be severely compromised by sin and easily manipulated by Satan and the world. To be controlled by them will therefore result in us becoming no better than Satan, led astray by the world, denied by Jesus, and losing our souls in hell forever (Pro 25:28). Self – or once more, being controlled by our feelings/emotions is, therefore, sin and humanity’s biggest problem (not Satan, not God, but self). The end of history will see humanity divided into two categories: 1) those who lived controlled by their feelings (and are now in hell), (and) 2) those who crucified their feelings and were instead controlled by God/Christ (and are now in heaven) (2Co 5:15 [“for themselves” = Self/the flesh/controlled by their feelings]; Gal 5:24).

The power to do that (to live crucified to our feelings and follow Christ) was granted at our baptism. In those waters, we were set free from slavery to our flesh (feelings controlling us) (Rom 6:1-7). However, we must still do the work of applying that power if such freedom is to be realized. And to this task we are obligated as part of our covenant vows to follow and give full control to Christ (Rom 6:8-13 w/8:12-13).

How to be free/take control away from your feelings (and give full control to Jesus):

REPENT

The number one reason people will not deny or die to self/their feelings and (as a result) fail to follow Christ is because they refuse to truly repent when they sin (and that includes the sin of being controlled by their feelings).

What that looks like (according to 2Co 7:10-11) = Ownership (no excuses, no victim mentality, no feeling sorry for yourself), a declaration of war against self (you no longer trust self) and the mindset that failure is not an option (we must win, being in the fight is not enough; not winning is sinning; not winning means going to hell; Eph 5:5-9 “Let no one deceive you” = Let no one cause you to think that salvation wb granted even to those who do not conquer their sins [“disobedience]; who do not take control away from their sinful feelings. We must win the war and “walk as children of light” [i.e. live in obedience to the truth – not our fallen/sinful feelings]).

RISK ADVERSIFY YOUR LIFE

Another major reason so many people fail to have victory over their feelings is that they are under the impression that such success can be realized while still practicing, possessing, participating in – or living in close proximity to those things that most encourage or entice self (or our flesh) to indulge in its cravings (e.g. going on a diet with an ice-cream filled fridge and a cookie filled pantry). The secret to success is not becoming more self-disciplined, but more risk-averse.

 

“If you are overweight, a smoker, or an addict, you’ve been told your whole life that it is because you lack self-control. The idea that a little more self-discipline would solve all our problems is deeply embedded in our culture. Recent research however, shows something different. When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren’t all that different from those who are struggling. Instead ‘disciplined’ people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic will power and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations. The people with the best self-control are those who have to use it the least.” – James Clear (Atomic Habits)

 

The irony of risk-aversion = Many who view themselves as risk-averse are actually the most reckless. The problem is that they are risk-averse in relation to the wrong things. They are so concerned with minimizing loss in the present (or in relation to temporal things/relationships), that they become reckless in relation to the loss of future (or eternal) things (i.e. their soul). This is true of too many in this church (e.g. fail to act boldly w/your family to stop the rebellion because you are afraid of losing the relationship and as a result, you are losing all credibility with Jesus come judgment day – Mat 10:32-38). Being controlled by one’s feelings makes a person susceptible to this awful irony. Why? Because the future (or future risk) cannot be felt (only the present). If therefore you are a person operating and making decisions based on your feelings, then you are person who can only risk-adversify in relation to the present (since once more, it is the only thing you can feel). This means you are (in reality) living a very reckless life (spiritually), one that will most likely end in eternal hell.

 

The feeling most hostile to risk-aversion (and repentance) = Complacency (laziness/lack of urgency in relation to needed change).

What complacency communicates about our view of God and how He responds = (Zep 1:12)

What those who are truly risk-averse do: (They…)

2.1. Find the wise and hang with them 1) How wisdom helps me be truly risk-averse/conquer my feelings = Wisdom gives me the ability to discern what are the situations posing the greatest risk to my relationship w/Christ and eternal destiny and the desire to avoid them. It makes me careful and cautious to fear the Lord in or w/all things (Pro 14:16; Pro 22:3; Pro 9:10; Eph 5:15-17), 2) Why seeking and hanging w/the wise helps to accomplish that goal = We are the product of who we hang out with – who we are spending the most with (Pro 13:20, 24:6; Act 4:13 = Jesus’ wisdom rubbed off on the apostles because of the time they had spent w/Him).

Example(s) of what this looks like: Identifying the wise in the Body of Christ and making a point to spend the majority of your free or fellowshipping time with them (in person, on the phone, through social media, etc.). This means being proactive to reach out and set up times to talk and hang out.

 

2.2. Forget those who are self-serving (2Co 6:14-7:1 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…lawlessness… darkness… Belial…idols” = Do not have relationships with people who are not seeking to be righteous or serve God [who are instead serving self/their flesh and feelings]. We must “separate” ourselves from such people not only to have God as a “father” who will “welcome” us as His children, but also to “cleanse” ourselves from the “defilement” it will bring to our bodies – i.e. because it opens us up to the temptations of our feelings/flesh [the self/flesh serving attitude/behavior/thinking seeps into us – 2Pe 1:4 = The “world” – a reference to unbelievers who are unwilling to seek God or righteousness, is the people we must “escape” from if we are to avoid the “corruption…because of sinful desire” – i.e. the soul/spirit becoming infected by the sin of our flesh/feelings]. How then do we evangelize such people? 1Co 5:9-10 = Through “association” not relationship [and for the apostate, no association or evangelism at all = v11]). We cannot have relationship until people are those welcomed by/ “acceptable to” God (i.e. we are to be imitators of God in our behavior w/them – Act 10:34-35).

Example(s) of what this looks like = No relationship w/unbelieving (non-apostate) relatives/children who are not seeking righteousness and open to listening to the gospel (no hanging out, no inviting them to parties, going to their parties, camping w/them, etc).

 

2.3. Flee from even the appearance of evil or anything illicitly sexual/romantic (Pro 4:25-27 “do not swerve to the right or to the left…straight ahead” = No consideration of anything that is questionable; a pursuit of only those things that I am positive are righteous; 1Th 5:22 “abstain from every form of evil” = Literally, “keep far away from the appearance of evil” – i.e. from anything that gives the impression to others that something sinful might be happening [See Mat 15:8; Luk 9:29]; 1Co 6:18 “flee” = hasty/urgent retreat; 2Ti 2:22 “youthful lusts” = The cravings/passions/desires of young adults [e.g. sexual pleasure]; Eph 5:3 “not even named among you” = No one would ever accuse or be suspicious of you in relation to such things; How this makes me risk-averse/helps conquer my feelings = Anything that appears like sin or sex wb an encouragement/enticement to those very things – even though they themselves may not be [sin or sex]. Hence the reason for the careful language [“abstain”, “flee”]).

Example(s) of what this looks like: 1) In relation to the appearance of evil = Attending most rap or rock concerts (since most are known for lewd behavior, drug use, etc. Not only that, but when you can’t pick the song set, you will inevitably hear songs which are sinful that you now appear to be celebrating with everyone else who is there), 2) In relation to the appearance of anything illicitly sexual/romantic = Dinner or drinks w/a co-worker of the opposite sex when you are married.

 

2.4. Filter what they watch and listen to (Mat 5:22-23 “your eye” = Idiom referring to what your spirit chooses to watch or listen to; “whole body” = Our physical bodies – including our feelings; “healthy…full of light” = If what you watch or listen to is morally good, then your flesh/feelings will be desirous of morally good/God-glorifying things [as the sinful part of our flesh is diminished]; “bad…great is the darkness!” = If what you watch or listen to is morally wicked, then your flesh/feelings will be desirous of morally wicked things [and your sinful flesh empowered! “Garbage in, garbage out”]).

Example(s) of what this looks like: 1) In relation to what you watch: No movies or tv shows with sexual nudity, filled with sexual situations or language (e.g. tv shows: Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Game Of Thrones, True Detective, Black Sails, Vikings, Westworld, Peaky Blinders, Love Craft Country, Narcos, Orange is the New Black, Altered Carbon, Outlander, All soap operas) or promoting/glorifying crime (Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Mayans M.C.), 2) In relation to what you listen to: Most rap music (all about drugs, sex, and crime).

 

2.5. Forfeit those things which they already know to be temptations to their flesh (or cause sinful feelings to rise up in them) (Heb 12:1 “lay aside = Get rid of, throw out, remove; “the weight…the sin that clings so closely” = Those things in our life that can cause us to easily fall prey to our sinful flesh/feelings).

Example(s) of what this looks like = Quitting social media sites such as Fb, TikTok or YouTube because they tempt you to folly and dissipation; Quitting the gym which doubles as a soft-porn club for men.

 

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: In May of 1971, two congressman Robert Steele from Connecticut and Morgan Murphy from Illinois, went to Vietnam and returned with this news: almost half of the soldiers had used heroin, and at least 15% were addicted. This was extremely disturbing, given that heroin was (at that time) considered the most addictive drug in the world (once addicted, it was nearly impossible to escape, relapse ~ 100%). In response to this report, President Nixon appointed Dr. Jerome Jaffe and researcher Lee Robins to determine what happened to these addicted soldiers when they came back to the states. Their research yielded unexpected findings: 95% of those soldiers once addicted to the most addictive drug on the planet were no longer using or addicted. Returning to the states had allowed them to kick the habit. Why? The answer was also unexpected. Their environment had changed. They were no longer in the place associated w/their former use. Which meant the feelings triggered by that environment (i.e. the desire to use heroin) were no longer active – or greatly diminished. The radical change in environment – the drug-filled jungles of Vietnam, to the lawful and ordered world of America, gave them the power needed to win in their war on drugs. Risk-adversifying our lives to win the war over self/feelings is based on the same principle. Consider each of the discussed points. They are all (some more than others) about changing our environment – from one that fuels our flesh to one that doesn’t. From one that encourages flesh/feelings to be king, to one that starves those feelings and instead makes Christ our king.

CLOSING CHALLENGE: (Rom 13:14) “put on the Lord Jesus Christ (His environment, His people, His ways) and (through that) make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (i.e. get out of that environment).”

 

 

[1] Paul gives the same ultimatum in Rom 8:12-13 using the word “flesh” to identify what Jesus means by “self”. The Scripture uses several terms (e.g. when used in the negative sense: self, flesh, body, passions, heart) to refer to the fallen physical person – i.e. our sinful or selfish feelings, which are constantly soliciting us to live according to their desires, to essentially become their slave (2Ti 3:6; 2Pe 2:18-19; Hence 1Co 9:27).

Self – Part 4

In Mark 8:33-38, Jesus gives us an ultimatum: die to self – or being controlled by our feelings/emotions or we cannot “come after [Him]” for salvation. The reason is that self – or again our feelings/emotions, are severely compromised by sin and easily manipulated by Satan and the world. To be controlled by them will therefore result in us becoming no better than Satan, being led astray by the world, denied by Jesus, and losing our souls in hell forever. Self – or once more, being controlled by our feelings/emotions is, therefore, our greatest enemy and humanity’s biggest problem. All people can be separated into two categories: 1) the lost = those living according to their feelings, 2) the saved = those who have crucified their feelings and are living for Christ (2Co 5:15 [“for themselves” = Self/the flesh/controlled by their feelings]; Gal 5:24).

 

The power to do that (to live crucified to our feelings as that which controls us and follow Christ) was granted at our baptism. In those waters, we were set free from slavery to our flesh (feelings controlling us) (Rom 6:1-7). However, we must still do the work of applying the power or using those tools if such freedom is to be realized. And to this task we are obligated as part of our covenant vows to follow and give full control to Christ (Rom 6:8-13 w/8:12-13).

How to be free/take control away from your feelings (and give full control to Jesus):

REPENT

The number one reason people will not deny or die to self/their feelings and (as a result) fail to follow Christ is because they refuse to truly repent when they sin. And being controlled by your feelings is sin. Unrepentance is also the reason so many professing Christians lack passion in living for Christ. Unresolved sin kills passion. Repentance is therefore the first solution or step to taking control away from your feelings and living passionate lives for Christ. Hence the reason the pre-requisite to the gospel – or “take up your cross and follow Me” is always “repent” (Mar 1:15 “repent and believe the gospel” = “take up your cross”/die to self w/ Act 24:24-25 = The gospel includes/is about “self-control”).

Through his discussion on “godly grief” in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11, the apostle Paul reveals what true/legit repentance (i.e. “repentance that leads to salvation without regret”) looks like. This means, if we are to possess or practice the kind of repentance that frees us from the tyranny of our feelings, then it must be defined by what is mentioned in these verses. That each is absolutely necessary to our success in this respect is confirmed by Paul’s final statement (11 “At every point you proved yourself to be innocent [i.e. right again w/God] in the matter” = Accomplishing true/legit repentance requires conformity to all points that define it).

1.1. No pain no gain (or change)

(10) = True/legit repentance is produced by (or requires) “godly grief” (or pain) – the pain associated with change and taking control away from one’s feelings. It is the opposite of “worldly grief” (or pain) – the emotional pain associated with feeling sorry for oneself self. Godly pain brings change and life (or “salvation”) whereas worldly pain brings “death” and “regret”. Christian gain, therefore, requires godly pain – the pain associated with change (“no pain no gain”) (def. of insanity = expecting a change in the results without change in the actions).

1.2. Extreme ownership

(11 “what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves”) = In contrast to the person feeling sorry for themselves, playing the victim or making excuses, the person who is truly repentant takes extreme ownership of their situation, they call it for what it is and embrace the “godly pain” of change that it will require – no matter the cost (the first steps in all recovery programs are admitting you have a problem and possessing a willingness to do whatever it takes to change).

1.3. War

(11 “what indignation”) = Fierce opposition toward who/what is wrong. In this case, your feelings that are controlling you. They are no longer to be viewed as the friend you can trust (“follow your heart”), but the enemy within that deceives and can never be trusted. To truly repent and turn from our feelings therefore also requires that we go to war to self/our feelings (the f**k cancer campaign).

(what else defines true/legit repentance – the kind that frees us from the tyranny of our feelings/emotions)…

1.4. Phobic Fear

(11 “what fear” [φόβος; phobia]) = Different than momentary (or “casual”) fear (the fear of fight or flight), phobia is the kind of fear that stays with you. It is fear that ultimately determines what you do (it is causal, not casual). All creatures (including humans) have this causal/phobic fear as their main mode of operation (modus operandi). We are hardwired to fear as the key to survive and thrive. We are creatures controlled by fear. What then determines whether it is healthy (or unhealthy) is what fear it specifically is.

The causal/phobic fear that Paul is referring to here (the kind necessary to true/legit repentance) = The fear of the Lord. The Bible says this phobic/controlling/causal fear is “the beginning of wisdom” (Pro 9:10) [1].

What the fear of the Lord exactly is = Constant awareness of a coming judgment where every deed (including every careless thought and word) will be assessed w/o the ability to excuse it away, manipulate (e.g. cry) or play dumb (Pro 24:12; Heb 4:12).

Why fear of the Lord/constant awareness of a coming judgment breaks us free from being controlled by our feelings (or the sinful flesh) = We can’t serve two masters (or two forms of phobic/causal fear). Fear of the Lord will always be stronger than FOMO (fear of missing out) – the main reason people obey their feelings. So when we have fear of the Lord, those feelings get suppressed and neglected (Pro 23:17) = The key to not letting our feelings (“heart”) move us to “envy sinners” (to worry that what they have we don’t or what they are experiencing, we aren’t) is to “continue in the fear of the Lord.”[2]

Why (else) fear of the Lord/constant awareness of a coming judgment is an important piece of true/legit repentance = Because it also causes us to not only live for God but also love/care about others (the goal of repentance) – including their moral/spiritual state (Lev 19:14 [“fear your God”: “I am the Lord”] – 17) = Verse 14 shows an appositional relationship between how God is using the phrase “fear your God” and “I am the Lord” (i.e. that the latter signals or communicates the former). As such every command that follows and carries this phrase (“I am the Lord”) is meant to communicate this as it cause – or means for carrying it out (“fear your God”). In light of what these specific commands are about, what we are being told is this: fear of God is what will cause us to not only live for God, but also love/care about others – including their moral/spiritual state (to not “curse” or be “partial”, nor be a “slanderer” but instead “reason w/him frankly” [regarding his moral/spiritual state], to “love him as [ourself]”); (2Co 5:9-11) = Notice three things: 1) Paul identifies “fear of the Lord” as the coming judgment where all deeds (good and bad) wb repaid (11 “Therefore knowing the fear of Lord” – i.e. knowing of this coming judgment [10“before the judgment seat of Christ”]), 2) this fear (or knowledge of this coming judgment) motivates (controls/causes) Paul to “please (Christ)” as his goal in living versus fulfilling the desires of his flesh of feelings (9 w/14-15 = What Paul called “the fear of the Lord” in v11, he now equates w/ or identifies as “the love of Christ” that “controls us” (i.e. causes us to do what we do). In this case, “live no longer for [self] but for him…who died and was raised.” (See also 7:1 = fear of the Lord is once more the motivation/cause to “holiness” or living for God), 3) this fear also causes Paul to “persuade others” – i.e. to convince others of their need to turn from being controlled by their feelings and (instead) live for Christ (since they too will face His judgment) – i.e. it made him care about the spiritual/moral state of others!

 

In summary, then, the question to ask ourselves, is what do we fear most (or what fear controls us)? Is it God (and His coming judgment) or missing out on the cheap, temporal pleasures of the flesh? Is it fear of God or FOMO/the fear of death? There are only two masters (God or Satan), two causal fears (fear of God or FOMO/fear of death). Who and which one controls you? Who are you listening to – God or our feelings and Satan? As discussed, the answer to that question is the key determiner to whether we are truly repentant and following Christ. A great way to discern on which side you are currently standing is to consider Paul’s words in (Phi 2:12 “fear and trembling” = Anxious distrust of your flesh and its ability to bring you spiritual harm). Is this your Christian walk (how you “work out your salvation”)? Does the fear you claim to possess for God cause you to operate with anxious distrust of your flesh and its ability to cause you spiritual harm? IOW: are you careful – or do you just go wherever your feelings are taking you in the moment (and say your “sorry” later?).

 

1.5. Failure or quitting is not an option

(11 “what longing [strong desire], what zeal [strong commitment to see one’s desire fulfilled], what punishment [tough treatment of the guilty ” – 1Pe 2:14) = When taken together these three refer to a person who possesses the mindset that failure or quitting is not an option. Which in this case refers to the mission of wresting control away from our feelings/emotions. The person who is truly repentant (in relation to being controlled by their feelings/emotions) is, therefore, more than just willing to go to war with self or the flesh, they are more than just embracing or taking extreme ownership in respect to what that will mean – or the cost involved. They have also removed from their “personal menu” of decisions, the decision to quit or (once more) fail. Success over their feelings/emotions is the only acceptable and available choice. And as mentioned with the other qualities defining true or legitimate repentance, this (too) is absolutely necessary. IOW: you will neither be recognized (by God) as repentant – or gain control over your feelings unless this is your mindset: you will never quit, never give in (again) to your feelings/emotions as that which determines your behavior.

Why this mindset (never quitting) is so critical to true/legit repentance = It is the prescribed punishment that fits the crime. In Mark 8, Jesus identifies our sinful flesh, our feelings/emotions as deserving of death, as guilty of capital punishment. And that is the kind of punishment we are exercising against our feelings/emotions when we choose to never quit in our fight against them, to never (again) give them a voice, to never (again) let them call the shots, to never (again) acquiesce to their temptations. By such actions we are suffocating them, banishing them, beating them down, and executing them! We are putting self to death (1Co 9:24-27 = Paul’s “never quit” mindset for gaining the “prize” involved “discipline” – or punishment [NAS – “beating”] his “body”. Such punishment/discipline however was psychological – not physical. It was discipline/punishment in relation to his feelings/emotions – the refusal to give in to their temptations and desires. To make them his “slave”, to do his bidding [versus him doing theirs]. This we can be certain of. Why? Because Paul already knew that “severity to the body” was of “no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” [Col 2:23]. IOW: focusing on getting strong physically as the cure to your moral issues does nothing more than make you a “strong quitter”. Our world is filled with such people: they look tough on the outside, but their souls are soft and sick.

Why this mindset (of never quitting/failure is not an option) is so critical to taking control away from our feelings = We are self-programmed robots: your brain/body are listening to what you tell it through your thoughts and words (Pro 23:7 “for as a [man] thinks within himself, so is he” [NAS]). This means if you go in with the option to fail or quit, you will more than likely fail versus if you go in w/o that option – success will be realized (especially since God has already given us the power and promise we can do it – 2Pe 1:3). Multiple studies have shown that people program themselves for defeat before they even start because their mindset going in is negative/defeatist (e.g. “I can’t do this, I don’t know if I can do this, this is too hard”) or because they give themselves the option to fail (e.g. The factor most determining whether 100-mile endurance runners finish the race is their mindset before the race even starts. If they go in thinking, they have the option to quit when things get difficult/painful, they end up quitting. If they go with the mindset that failure/quitting is not an option, they complete the race]; In a 2008 study, researchers found that subjects who were given a placebo but told it was caffeine were able to lift significantly more weight than those who were really given caffeine; Seals 40% rule works on the principle of mindset: when your feelings tell you that you are done, you have only expended 40%, which means you still have 60% left in the tank. IOW: Most people convince themselves to fail or quit long before their bodies ever will).

 

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = Based on the biblical definition of repentance, have you repented of being controlled by your feelings/emotions? You won’t gain victory over them until you do. You aren’t following Christ until you do.

[1] “Fear is hardwired in your brain, and for good reason [our survival]. Neuroscientists have identified distinct networks that run from the depths of the limbic system all the way to the prefrontal cortex and back. When these networks are electrically or chemically stimulated, they produce fear, even in the absence of a fearful stimulus [i.e. this fear is different/separate from casual fear]. Feeling fear is [therefore] neither abnormal nor a sign of weakness: The capacity to be afraid is part of normal brain function. In fact, a lack of fear may be a sign of serious brain damage [Psa 36:1 w/Deu 28:28 w/Ecc 9:3 w/Eph 4:17-19 = The choice to listen to the wickedness in our flesh/feelings leads to brain damage – the “callous” inability to fear God, to giving ourselves a spiritual lobotomy].” – Dr. Theo Tsaousides, Ph.D. (neuropsychologist)

[2] The basis of FOMO (or fear of missing out) is another fear, the fear of death (or possessing only one life). This fear however is alleviated by embracing the salvation gained by Christ and living faithfully for God (i.e. living in the fear of God) (Heb 2:14-16) = Christ granted us freedom from the phobic fear of FOMO/the “fear of death” which the “devil” uses to enslave the world. Anyone therefore driven by this (bad) phobic/causal fear is not only being controlled by their sinful feelings/emotions but the world’s grand puppeteer, Satan (1Jo 5:19 = People of the world are the willing puppets of Satan – the destroyer of souls – whereas the church, the willing sheep of God the great and loving Shepherd).

Self – Part 3

In Mark 8:33-38, Jesus gives us an ultimatum: die to self (i.e. being controlled by/listening to our feelings) or we cannot “come after [Him]” for salvation[1]. This ultimatum is based on both loyalty (we can’t serve two masters) and ability: self – or again our feelings, are severely compromised by sin and easily manipulated by Satan and the world. To be controlled by them will therefore result in not only failing to live for Christ but also behaving no better than Satan and being led astray by the world. It will guarantee losing our souls in hell forever[2]. Self – or once more, being controlled by our feelings is, therefore, our greatest enemy and humanity’s biggest problem.

The good news, however, is that for genuine Christians (those baptized in a legit/biblical church), the tools (or power) to be free, to take control away from our feelings has already been granted to us. We no longer must function as its slaves (Rom 6:1-7). That being said, we must still do the work of applying that power or using those tools if such freedom is to be realized. And to this task we are obligated as part of our covenant vows to follow and give full control to Christ (Rom 6:8-13 w/8:12-13).

How to be free/stop listening to/take control away from your feelings (and give full control to Jesus -i.e. live according to truth):

REPENT

The number one reason people will not die to self/their feelings and (as a result) fail to follow Christ is because they are unrepentant in relation to their sin. And being controlled by/listening to your feelings is sin. Unrepentance is also the reason so many professing Christians lack passion in living for Christ. Unresolved sin kills passion. Repentance is therefore the first solution or step to take control away from your feelings and living passionate lives for Christ. Hence the reason that the pre-requisite to the gospel – or “take up your cross and follow Me” is always “repent” (Mar 1:15 “repent and believe the gospel” = “take up your cross”/die to self w/ Act 24:24-25 = The gospel includes/is about “self-control”).

Through his discussion on “godly grief” in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11, the apostle Paul reveals what true/biblical repentance (i.e. “repentance that leads to salvation without regret”) looks like. Which means, if we are to possess or practice the kind of repentance that frees us from the tyranny of our feelings, then it must be defined by what is mentioned in these verses:

1.1. No pain no gain (or change)

(10) = True/legit repentance is produced by (or requires) “godly grief” = Literally, godly pain ([λύπη] = Same word translated as “painful” in Heb 12:11). It is the pain associated with change and taking control away from one’s feelings.

 

What else is true about this “godly pain” that produces true/legitimate repentance = It is the opposite of “worldly grief” (or again, “pain”). Godly pain brings change and life (or “salvation”) whereas worldly pain brings “death” and “regret”.

What Paul is referring to by “worldly grief/pain” = The emotional pain associated with feeling sorry for oneself (i.e. “your feelings are hurt”). This, therefore, is what defines fake/illegitimate repentance. It is a person who thinks they are repenting b/c they feel bad (again, sorry for themselves) when they sin (or more accurately, get caught in their sin). Prisons are filled w/such people (people whose only reason for feeling bad is because they got caught).

 

What fake/illegitimate/worldly repentance (feeling sorry for yourself) looks like = Acting like a martyr, making excuses (“I did do the crime, but I am a good person)[3], playing the victim (“I can’t help what I do/think”)[4] or crying when sin is discovered in their life. People who respond in any of these ways (to their sin) show that they are unrepentant – or not willing to put self/their feelings to death. They have rejected the pain that will always come when one attempts to take control away from self/their feelings and put in its place the counterfeit pain of self-pity (or again, “worldly grief”)[5].

How (then) you need to view godly pain = Not as something bad – or an indication that we need to stop our current course of action, but rather as a good thing, as an indication that sin/self/feelings are leaving (or beginning to die) as that which controls us (“pain is weakness leaving/dying in the body”). The Christian life is not butterfly kisses and anyone who attempts to make it that will fail to get to heaven. Godly pain is necessary and something we should run to—rather than away from. It is the place that change or improvement begins. It is how we get stronger and what (therefore) we should expect when truly repenting. Christian gain requires godly pain – the pain associated w/change (“no pain no gain” – or change).

1.2. Extreme ownership

(11 “what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves”) = The fact that a person wants to “clear” themselves means they not only know they are guilty – but willing to admit it (i.e. confess it) and accept the pain. In contrast (then) to the person feeling sorry for themselves, playing the victim or making excuses (the person possessing only worldly grief/repentance), the person who is truly repentant takes extreme ownership of their situation, they call it for what it is and embrace the “godly pain” of change that it will require – no matter the cost (Mat 18:7-9 = Do whatever it takes to get your feelings [those things affected by “the temptations to sin”] under control).

 

What this word “earnestness” also reveals about the kind of ownership we are to have when it comes to our repentance – or taking control away from our feelings = It is to be immediate (earnestness [σπουδή] = W/speed or haste/immediate action – Mar 6:25; Psa 119:59-60). This means that the excuse “I need time to process” is (again) unrepentance or sin! Parents, do you allow your children time to “process” your commands or to stop their sinful behavior (e.g. tell them to brush their teeth and go to bed, you find them still watching tv w/this excuse, “I needed time to process your command”)? Why then the partiality/hypocrisy when it comes to the immediate ownership/change God calls you to demonstrate as part of your repentance and getting control over your feelings/sin? Again, the immediate and right response to an apostate child provides a good example where several have failed in this respect. The apostate child refused to immediately repent/die to their feelings and follow Christ. As a result, they are now apostate. Though condemning such behavior, the parents respond (in like behavior), by “needing time to process” and crying (i.e. giving in to their feelings by feeling sorry for themselves and their apostate child – rather than Christ).

 

In summary, then, you will never get control over your feelings and truly follow Christ until you legitimately take ownership by admitting that you are controlled by your feelings and commit to immediately doing whatever it takes to change it – to embracing the pain that brings real gain!

 

1.3. War

(11 “what indignation” [ἀγανάκτησις]) = Fierce opposition toward who/what is wrong. In this case, your feelings that are controlling you. They are no longer to be viewed as the friend you can trust (e.g. “follow your heart”), but the enemy within that deceives and can never be trusted (Jer 17:9 “heart”[לֵב] = The seat of man’s emotions). As such, to repent is to declare war on self. If that is not your stance in relation to your feelings, then you are not truly repentant and will never gain control over them.

 

What feelings/emotions are from a scientific perspective and how it reinforces why you shouldn’t trust them = Feelings/emotions are nothing more than guesses that your brain constructs in the moment. Those experiences (the experiences of feelings/emotions) are the experience of “speculation without sufficient information to be confirmed as correct” (the definition of a guess). As such, there is zero correspondence between how powerful the emotion/feeling is—and its ability to be right (See How Emotions Are Made by neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett). This means this: if you are trusting your feelings/emotions, to determine what to do (or not do) in life – or what is right and wrong in life, then you are literally “guessing your way through life”. You are making decisions (some w/eternal consequences) without sufficient information to be confirmed as correct (again, the definition of a guess). And because of what the Bible tells us about sin (and its corruption of our feelings/emotions), that means that a large portion of those guesses are horribly wrong (e.g. COVID related anger/attacks on Asian Americans[6]; Patriotism = “Buy American”[7]).

Hence the reason (then) we must die to feelings/emotions controlling our lives. And that starts through repentance – which includes declaring war on them. They are not our trusty friends. They are instead (once more) our greatest enemy, the ignorant deceiver living inside of us who tries very hard to get us to listen.

 

“Trusting your feelings is like trusting a two-year-old with your money. What he chooses to do with it is bound to change and hardly will it ever be in your best interest.” – Anonymous

 

What happens when you continue to feel sorry yourself or play the victim refusing to embrace the pain of change, take ownership and go to war with self (i.e. when you refuse to repent of being controlled by – or listening to your emotions/feelings) = You change your gospel to accommodate your unrepentance (i.e. and eventually apostasize). Why? Because the tension between what Christ requires and how you are choosing to live (w/your emotions/feelings remaining in control) is unsustainable. Something will eventually give. And if it is not on the side of your feelings, then it will be on the side of the gospel.

 

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = Having I truly repented of listening to my feelings and letting them control my life? Am I embracing the pain of change, taking ownership of my failure and going to war with self?

 

[1] To come after Jesus – or follow Him, for salvation means to live always submitting to what we learn to be the truth (Joh 17:17, 18:37). This includes not only the truth as revealed in God’s Word (i.e. special revelation), but those things in the world revealed to also be true by their agreement with God’s Word (i.e. general revelation). In the words, of the ancient church theologian, Thomas Aquinas, “all truth is God’s truth” (e.g. Act 17:28).

[2] According to the apostle Peter, being controlled by our feelings also reduces us to “irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed” (2Pe 2:12). Like animals whose only tool of discernment is their instincts – or feelings, we become the vulnerable prey of every trick and trap devised by demons and men.

[3] I have had people in my office who – after confessing their guilt in relation to a crime have then said, “but that’s not me!” According to Scripture however, it is. You are what you do, not what you feel. Another reason so much of repentance has to do with feelings (or repenting of being controlled by our feelings): because they are what deceive us into believing we are good – or okay, when in reality we are not (Heb 3:12-13).

[4] Deu 30:11

[5] [As it re: to crying]. Anytime a person cries over themselves or another person who is guilty of sin, they are pitying the wicked – a direct violation of Deu 19:21 (“your eye shall not pity”). As such, never in Scripture do we see repentant people crying for themselves or other guilty people. Tears are only shed in relation to those who are the innocent victims of their (the guilty party’s) crimes (e.g. God, the spouses of those committing adultery, the next generation who suffer the economic or ethical consequences of their parents’ actions; e.g. Jer 8:21-9:3; Lam 2:11, 18-19, 3:48-51 [“daughter of my people” = The innocent children of the guilty who are suffering bc of their sin – see 5:7; See also Isa 22:4] versus 3:39 [in re: to the guilty]). Consider also: (2Sa 12:1-13) = Notice David’s response after the news of his son’s death. He doesn’t weep but rather worships. The only weeping he did was for the child/innocent party – never for the guilty party (himself). Hence once more, he rises and eats (or ends his time of sadness) after God has made the decision to take the child’s life. There was nothing more that could be done for his son and he wasn’t going to feel sinfully sorry for himself; (Luk 22:61-62) = Peter’s tears were for Jesus not himself; God’s response to those who feel sorry for the wicked (Jos 7:10-11; Lev 10:1-6). Parents therefore who cry for their apostate children or children who cry before they are punished for their sin are displaying the clear evidence of an unrepentant heart, an unwillingness to die to self/their sinful feelings and live for Christ. The question therefore that must be asked when such crying takes place is not, “why are you crying?” but “who are you crying for?”

[6] Such attacks are believed to be the result of the COVD-19 pandemic and the (supposed) Asian origin of the disease. How this justifies attacking Asian-Americans who bear no culpability for the pandemic or its place of origin, demonstrate these actions to be fueled by nothing more than irrational and sinful emotion (e.g. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 is believed to have emerged in Wuhan, China in late December 2019 and began rapidly spreading around the globe throughout the spring months of 2020. As COVID-19 proliferated across the United States, Asian Americans reported a surge in racially motivated hate crimes involving physical violence and harassment.” – Angela Grover, “Anti-Asian Hate Crime During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Exploring the Reproduction of Inequality”)

[7] The belief (and often accompanying animosity toward those who buy foreign cars) that it is bad for America – or takes away from American business (and therefore a sign of disloyalty to America or a person lacking Patriotism) is likewise a sinful emotional response (Mat 12:36-37) given the facts that “international trade has historically provided more resources and jobs than it has taken” – Steve Forbes (Forbes.com). For example: 1) More than one in five American jobs depend on international trade, 2) companies exporting goods increase employment 2 to 4 percent faster than those that do not, 3) to export goods [a business producing over 1.6 trillion in revenue to American businesses] requires that we also import – i.e. international trade is a two-way street, 4) imported goods (incl. foreign cars) and foreign companies create jobs for over 6 million people in America, 5) foreign goods also create competition which lowers prices and improves quality (e.g. The impact of the 80’s foreign car surge in America on its domestic brands: better quality and prices) (Source: Business Roundtable, “How The Us Economy Benefits From International Trade And Investment”). In this light, it sb also be mentioned that Jesus and His people do not fight for/against the policies/politics of earthly kingdoms/nations since their loyalty belongs to another kingdom/nation (Joh 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would be fighting…”; Phi 3:20)

Self – Part 2

These verses are some of the most important in all of Scripture. That because they make clear that our greatest enemy is not Satan and the world, or God and His laws. It is instead ourselves (or self). Learning then what that means, why it is so dangerous and how to conquer it, should be of first importance.

WHAT THESE VERSES (31-34) TEACH US ABOUT SELF = Living for self (or “setting your mind on the things of man”) means you are a person controlled by your feelings. Being controlled by feelings is a big problem for many people. Hence the reason Jesus expanded His words to Peter to include the rest of the “disciples” and the “crowd” (vv33-34 “seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter… And calling the crowd to him with his disciples he said to them” in contrast to v32 “And Peter took him aside…”). Modern advertising knows this to still be a problem today and exploits it on a regular basis. (e.g. 1) FOMO; Displaying “low stock” or “limited supplies” is a part of most/all marketing strategies, 2) Fb “likes”; Whenever someone likes a comment or post, “we give you a little dopamine hit.” – Fb founder, Sean Parker).

Jesus demands that we go to war with this part of our person no longer allowing ourselves to be controlled by it. [1]

WHAT BEING CHARACTERIZED/CONTROLLED BY YOUR FEELINGS LOOKS LIKE (signs that this is you): 1) You are characterized by rash decisions, big talk/promises/commitments and no follow thru/perseverance/loyalty, 2) Truth and error, good and bad, right and wrong, are determined by how you feel, 3) What decides what you do or don’t do most days is pleasure, 4) You make it a point to avoid anything that would cause controversy, conflict and/or tension w/another person (Controversy/chaos is a big part of how God accomplishes his purposes [e.g. Act 13:17-30 = Israel’s chaotic/controversial history up to Christ including His death and resurrection], which means if you avoid rather than embrace the controversy/chaos God brings then you not only possess a very unbiblical worldview, but also are an incredibly rebellious person who is very much controlled by your feelings), 5) You choose what to do or not do based on its potential to cause pain and/or discomfort regardless of the benefit it may afford you, 6) You always seek the path of least resistance, 7) You fantasize about “checking out” of life or your responsibilities, 8) You fear the future or missing out, 9) You cry easily (A sign of addiction to negative emotions. Fear, sadness, feeling sorry for yourself are some of the strongest emotions – eliciting the same dopamine receptors as cocaine in the brain).

WHY WE MUST DIE TO SELF/BEING CONTROLLED BY OUR FEELINGS (33-38)

3.1. You are no better than Satan if you do not.

(v33 – “Get behind Me, Satan!”) = Why Jesus identifies Peter this way is because when he was controlled by his emotions (i.e. “setting his mind on… the things of man” rather than “the things of God”) this is who he was acting like.

The connection between being controlled by our feelings (“setting our mind on the things of man”) and Satan = Satan’s fall was due to the fact that he was controlled/deceived by his feelings (Evidence for this is found in Eze 28:17 w/2 and 5).

3.2. It is impossible to follow Jesus if you do not.

(34) = Jesus juxtaposes coming after or following Him with denying or dying to self (i.e. taking up one’s cross) – which again, refers to our feelings (or being controlled by them). As such, the point He is making is this: that it is impossible to follow Him – and at the same time, be controlled by your feelings. IOW: Jesus must have complete control of you or it won’t work (your attempts at coming after/following Him will fail). Hence the reason “self” (or our feelings) are the greatest enemy (not God or His laws, not Satan or the world).

The reason (then) you are getting nowhere or there seems to be so much tension in trying to live the Christian life or living the Christian life seems so hard = Because your feelings are still running the show. Until you take the control away from them and give it all to Jesus, it will continue to be that way. Following Jesus will be an impossible mission and your Christian life, temporary (Rom 7:24-8:8). Giving control of your life to Jesus is something that must happen every day – or daily (Luk 9:23; Consider also Mat 6:10). This (then) is also what it means to live by faith: I am trusting Jesus with the control/decisions of my life (versus what my feelings are telling me).

Being controlled by feelings (rather than faith and following Christ) is the reason for the temporary status and failure of the seed thrown on the rocky and thorny soils in Jesus’ parable of the soils (Mar 4:16-19 “they have no root” = In all three gospels this is the description applied to – and to be assumed, of the rocky and thorny soil alike. It refers to a person whose current faith/following of Jesus is not the basis [or “root”] of their behavior [they again have no such root]. As a result, when their feelings are ignited – through trials or temptation, they leave their Christianity behind).

3.3. Attempting to navigate life by your feelings will mean losing your soul.

(35) = This verse makes crystal clear that attempting to follow Jesus while at the same time being controlled by your feelings, will end in utter failure. That is what Jesus is referring to when He speaks of someone attempting to “save (their) life”. He is talking about a person who continues to operate according to the old/existing way of doing things (i.e. running things by way of the emotions/feelings – the “old self”, Eph 4:20-23). The result will be losing their life – or more literally, their soul (See Fn 1 – the word translated “life” can be translated “soul”). Jesus’ warning is therefore in relation to more than just this life. It has eternal implications. Losing your soul means going to hell. And (as before), the only way around this is to (instead), “(lose) your life for (Christ’s) sake and the gospel’s”. IOW: You must give complete control of your life to Jesus and His mission for you. Every day (or again “daily”) your life – and its every decision, needs to be consistent with what He wants you to do (irrespective of how you feel).

The reason Jesus demands that we remove all such control from our feelings and give it all to Him is not because He has some power trip. It is in every respect because He wants to save us. And the enemy (once more) that we need to be saved from –the one wrecking everything, is self (or our feelings).

Why we don’t recognize that our feelings are deceiving us (thinking everything is okay when in reality, we are in grave danger) is similar to the plight suffered by flight pilots known as “spatial disorientation”: the physical senses (sight, sound, balance) of the pilot fail to discern the actual angle, altitude or speed of the plane. This often happens during the night or in bad weather. The pilot (based on such physical senses) believes they are flying at a safe angle, distance from the ground, and speed when in reality they are not. The only solution to such situations is to stop trusting one’s physical senses and fly instead solely by the plane’s instruments. Pilots failing to fly by their instruments have caused the death of many people – most recently the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter. The helicopter pilot encountered fog, became visually disoriented, and ran the helicopter into the side of a hill at 184 mph.

Anyone “flying by their feelings” are suffering from “spiritual disorientation”: Like spatial disorientation, you are a person looking to the wrong things to determine what’s up and what’s down, what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s safe, and what’s not. Your flesh/feelings (severely depraved or damaged by the corruption of sin) are sending you false signals. You think you are okay when in reality you are about to crash and burn (forever). And the only way to pull your life out of this spiritual tailspin is to completely turn off your emotions/feelings and listen instead to Jesus (or His Word) since He is the only One who truly knows what’s going on and can navigate your way safely to heaven.[2]

This is why in college, I (pastor) gave my entire life/the controls to Christ because I knew if I tried to save my life (i.e. trust myself/my feelings), I would shipwreck/corrupt my soul. I knew I needed to give all decisions/all discernment to Him and never look back (30 years later = no regret).

3.4. Attempting not to miss out will mean missing out (for eternity).

(36) = To not miss out on what your feelings desire in the world (to “gain” even “the whole world” in this respect) will mean eternally missing out since the trade-off will be the loss of your soul in hell. And to Jesus that is not trading up (but down, way down!). Hence why He says what he does in (v37) = IOW: what (in the world) is worth losing your soul for all eternity? (Answer: nothing!)

Here (then) is the grand irony of letting feelings run the show. People do it because of the (feeling) or “fear of missing out” (FOMO). Yet if we follow those feelings/fear, that is the very thing we will do! We will miss out in the biggest way possible. We will miss out on heaven and the new creation.

According to Paul, nothing that we give up in this world (or miss out on) compares to what will be gained in heaven and the new creation (2Co 4:17-18).

What (then) Jesus is not saying: Jesus is not saying that by gaining the whole world – or living for the world you won’t be happy. As discussed in Practicum, there are plenty of people in the world (even in false religions) who are extremely happy. Hence the reason it is foolish to say they are all faking it – or Christianity is the only thing that will make you happy in this world. NEWSFLASH: there are just as many happy people in the world as there are in the church – and likewise, just as many unhappy people in the church as there are people in the world (Act 14:16-17 = Happiness is the result of realizing/possessing whatever you deem to be important/worthy/valuable – e.g. scoring a touchdown, having a family, eating bugs; your feelings will calibrate to whatever you believe is important/worthy/valuable. Hence the reason people can be happy doing whatever or believing whatever. Happiness is just what happens when you get/achieve what you believe to be important/worthy/valuable –that’s it. Hence the reason for unhappy Christians – they are failing to achieve what they believe to be most valuable).

Additionally, Jesus is not saying that you won’t miss out if you live for Him. Living for Jesus will cause you to miss out on certain things in this life (that’s a fact). This means the issue is not about happiness – or whether or not there are things to be missed, but rather which path will lead to regret (that’s the issue). And in that respect, the path that puts self (or our feelings) to death and follows Jesus is the only one that avoids that. Every other path leads to regret – eternal regret.

3.5. If you don’t trust Jesus, He won’t trust you.

(38) = The final reason Jesus gives for why you need to die to your feelings as that which controls your life (i.e. that which determines what you do/what you pursue) and (instead) trust Him to call the shots in your life, is because if you don’t (and that’s what you are doing by not giving up on your feelings – you are choosing not to trust Him with your life), then He won’t trust you (on the day of His return). That’s what He is getting at when He says He will be “ashamed” of you – just as you were of Him. The cause (or reason) behind being ashamed of someone is a lack of trust. When you don’t fully trust someone, you won’t stand up for them –or suffer for them. You will instead “be ashamed”. Which means Jesus will do the same to you.

Though this is the last verse, it is the place where it all starts. You won’t give up on your feelings (i.e. die to them as that which controls you) unless you first make the decision to trust (and that is exactly what it is – a decision or choice – nothing more/nothing less).

So the closing question is this, are you going to trust Jesus with your life (and get to heaven and the new creation) – or are you going to remain enslaved to your feelings (to self) and spend all eternity regretting it?

The choice is yours. Your future is totally up to you. What is it going to be? Go to war with God (the One Who is trying to save you from what is killing you)—or go to war with self (your feelings) the true enemy and thing that will kill you and send you to hell?

Again, the choice is in your power to make. Make the choice to go to war with self/with your feelings and to listen only to Christ. That is the only way to get to heaven. That is the only way to live a life you won’t regret.

“He is no fool who loses what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” – Jim Elliott

[1] Several texts view our spirit/soul as different from that physical portion of our person that embodies our emotions and feelings corrupted by sin (i.e. self). Equally supported is the fact that we are to be at war against this fleshly part of our person (Rom 8:18-26 w/2Co 5:1-10 = Paul’s groaning while in this life/earthly tent is related to the flesh’s emotional torments/temptations [or “sufferings” – Rom 8:18] – something he determines [through the Spirit’s help] to bring under control as necessary to passing the final test before God [again v2Co 5:9-10; See also 1Co 9:24-27]; Gal 5:16 “desires” = Feelings; Rom 7:5, 15-23, 8:12-13; Eph 2:3; 1Pe 2:11; 2Pe 2:18). That there are essentially “two persons” (or two parts to our one person) is a concept that has been believed throughout human history going back to ancient times – even among pagan philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle). Most importantly it is the view purported in Scripture.

[2] The spiritual plane crash that Jesus is attempting to save us from is depicted in the rest of Scripture as the corruption of our spirit/soul (i.e. the corruption of our physical bodies/feelings leaches into and corrupts our spirits/souls). Like Satan and the demons, allowing our physical bodies/feelings to control us will eventually mean the corruption of our eternal spirits/souls. Hence the reason God cannot allow such spirits to enter heaven or the new creation. To do so would mean a repeat of this corrupted world (Gal 6:8; 2Pe 1:4, 2:19; In re: to the demons – Mat 10:1; Act 8:7).

Self – Part 1

These verses are some of the most important in all of Scripture. That because they make clear that our greatest enemy is not Satan and the world, or God and His laws. It is instead ourselves (or self). Learning then what that means, why it is so dangerous and how to conquer it, should be of first importance.

WHAT THESE VERSES (31-34) TEACH US ABOUT SELF:

1.1. “Setting your mind on (i.e. being committed to) the things of man” (v33) is the same thing as living for self (hence v34).

1.2. Living for self (or “setting you mind on the things of man”) means YOU ARE A PERSON CONTROLLED BY YOUR FEELINGS. What you are committed to – or what determines what you do, are those things which are agreeable to your feelings, those things that make a man feel good (v34 – the “things of man”).

(Support):

1.2.1. The context of Jesus’ chastisement of Peter (vv31-32) = Peter’s “rebuke” of Jesus is an emotional response – a response based on how Jesus’ prediction of coming suffering and rejection made him feel. As a person controlled by his feelings, Peter wanted safety and pleasure (not suffering and pain), approval and praise (not rejection and condemnation).[1]

1.2.2. Feelings are what the apostle Paul is referring to when he speaks about “self-control” or “the old self” or “selfish ambition” (1Co 7:5, 9:24-27 “self-control” = Control over feelings/desires. This does not mean the absence of feelings, but feelings as servant rather than master. I control my feelings, they don’t control me//Eph 4:20-23//Phi 2:3).

1.2.3. Feelings are what apostles Peter and Paul are referring to when speaking negatively about “the flesh” (1Pe 2:11; 2Pe 2:18// Eph 2:3; 1Co 3:1-3 “infants” = A person controlled by their feelings and lacking self-control; Rom 7:5, 8:1-8, 12-14).

1.3. Jesus is therefore demanding that everyone who would be His disciple (or “come after [Him]”) not only deny, but put to death their feelings as that which controls (or determines) what they do (Again v34).

1.4. Being controlled by feelings is a big problem for many people (Hence v33 [“seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said”], v34 [And calling the crowd to him with his disciples he said to them”] in contrast to v32 [“And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him”]) = Jesus makes sure His words are heard by everyone since He knew that Peter was not the only one w/this problem. It encompassed the majority of humanity. Modern marketing/advertising knows this and exploits it on a regular basis. For example: 1) FOMO (Behavioral scientists have demonstrated that appealing to people’s emotions has a far greater impact than rational appeals. Scarcity – or creating the feeling of scarcity, has proven to be the most effective. Displaying the words, “low stock” or indicating that only a “limited number” of the product is available is employed by almost every marketing/advertising campaign as part of their sales strategy). 2)Fb “likes” (Studies show that receiving “likes” or “hearts” or “smiley faces” activates the brain’s dopamine receptors giving us the emotional sensation of pleasure no different from that found in drugs or sex. Sean Parker, Fb’s founding president admitted that exploiting this “vulnerability in human psychology” was part of their strategy. Whenever someone likes a comment or post, “we give you a little dopamine hit.” All of it is meant to appeal to your emotions/feelings and keep you always checking/going to their app).

WHAT BEING CHARACTERIZED/CONTROLLED BY YOUR FEELINGS LOOKS LIKE (the signs that this is you):

2.1. You are characterized by rash decisions [“ghetto thinking”] (i.e. decisions based on feelings in the moment or short-term gratification w/no thought of how it will affect the future) (e.g. The average household has over $15k in credit card, much of it due to impulse/rash purchases – purchases made based on emotions in the moment – HSN!; Studies show that inability to control the emotions related to stress/exhaustion often leads to rash decisions – e.g. Because he was “exhausted”, Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup – Gen 25:29-34; Many an unwanted pregnancy was the result of emotions out of control leading to rash sexual decisions).

2.2. You are characterized by big talk/promises/commitments and no follow thru/perseverance/loyalty (e.g. Many people’s New Year’s resolutions; Many people’s decisions to exercise or go on a diet; Many American marriages – 42.6% divorce rate).

2.3. Truth and error, good and bad, right and wrong, are determined by how you feel (e.g. How most people determine what religion they follow or what church they attend [Beth Moore: you know a church has the Holy Spirit by the feeling of affirmation you get when you attend]; e.g. Most Evangelicals in what they believe to be the gospel/Christianity; e.g. The reason many people end up in adulterous affairs – “how could something so wrong feel so right?”).

2.4. What decides what you do or don’t do most days is pleasure (rather than the accomplishment of more noble tasks or goals) (e.g. Most kids – Pro 22:15).

2.5. You make it a point to avoid anything that would cause controversy, conflict, and/or tension with another person (e.g. Husbands or parents who rarely raise their voice; Christians who have never had to separate from false Christian family or friends – Luk 2:34-35; Mat 10:34-38 – Notice Jesus brings up killing our feelings [taking up our cross] as key to such separation).

2.6. You choose what to do or not do based on its potential to cause pain and/or discomfort regardless of the benefit it may afford you (e.g. Exercise, dieting, change!).

2.7. You always seek the path of least resistance (e.g. Career choice).

2.8. You fantasize about “checking out” of life or your responsibilities (e.g. Alcohol/drug addiction often associated with this emotional crutch).

2.9. You fear the future or missing out (e.g. Most teenagers/young adults).

2.10. You cry easily (A sign of addiction to negative emotions. Fear, sadness, feeling sorry for yourself are some of the strongest emotions – eliciting the same dopamine receptors as cocaine in the brain).

 

[1] That Jesus would accuse Peter of being an individual committed to/controlled by his feelings is confirmed by his later rash-actions, big-talk, and lack of follow-thru/perseverance/loyalty (Joh 18:10; Joh 13:36-38 w/18:17, 25-27).