Sunday, April 20, 2008 -
DOUBTS CAUSED BY EMOTIONS OUT OF CONTROL - As we’re seeing in these last few studies, there are many sources of doubt that lie outside the realm of the intellect. Today we’re going to consider another of these. There are doubts that are caused by unruly emotions. For example, if a person is scared to death to fly on an airplane, all the statistics proving airplane safety don’t have the power to overcome an irrational yet intense fear. The doubt about air travel doesn’t come from the intellect. It comes from strong, perhaps overpowering emotional fear.
1) THE POWER OF UNRULY EMOTIONS
It is dangerously silly to assume that once faith is embraced with the mind it will automatically remain in tact until some good reason comes along to dislodge it. The heart is influenced by emotions as much as it is by reason - perhaps even more. Frequently the emotional factor out-guns the rational factor.
1 Kings 19:1-8 - “Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow."  Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers."  And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, "Arise and eat."  And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.  And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, "Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you."  And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.”
This is just one well known Scriptural example. Here we see how a godly man is brought to trembling by the threat of one woman, in spite of the powerful demonstrations of faith and power in Elijah’s ministry just days earlier. But Elijah’s despair isn’t a rational issue. He’s burnt out, tired and undernourished. That’s why God feeds him twice before He corrects him once.
2) WHY OUR EMOTIONS HAVE SO MUCH POWER
a) Our emotions are so powerful because of the Fall - It is not that our emotions are more fallen than any other part of our being. And it’s not that they are sinful in themselves. It’s just that our emotions are more susceptible to change and external influence than any other part of our being. This is what makes them the particular target of the Devil. He knows it is much easier to change the way we feel than the way we reason. Emotions are not only powerful. They are vulnerable.
b) Our emotions are so powerful because they are more vivid than our reasoned thoughts - You reason in black and white. Your emotions come in bold color - with big screen/big sound impact.
These are the two problems with our emotions. They are too easily influenced, and they are too influential.
3) WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS PROBLEM?
a) Recognize the central place of the mind in the Christian life. This needs to be explained. Certainly the Christian life is more than just intellectual agreement with doctrinal truth. One can be correct without the life of the Spirit. But after admitting this, it is still necessary to say that the vast majority of times the word “heart” is used in the Scriptures, it refers to the mind, not the emotions. And the reason is obvious: The mind, while not the only part of the Christian life, is the governing part.
b) Know your emotional triggers. It is very important that you know them because the Devil knows them very well. These triggers are the key to the nature of the spiritual warfare you and I are involved in as Christians.
See Psalm 19:12-13 - “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.”While this text deals with more than just emotionally directed sins, that phrase, “let them not have dominion over me,” has particular relevance to human actions ignited by emotional factors. The passion of these things so quickly over-rules the power of will and intelligent reason.
c) Talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself. Psalm 42: 5-11 is a classic example of this. Not just once in a while, but consistently and continually, you will have to deal with your own emotions. Your emotions aren’t going to go away, nor should they. But they must never be given the pulpit in your heart.
Oswald Chambers - “There are certain things we must never pray about. Moods, for instance. Moods never go out by praying. Moods only go out by kicking....Many of our problems in the Christian life come not initially because of some committed sin, but because we are ignorant of our own nature.”