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From The Heart, Part 2

Updated: Mar 7

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules. Ezekiel 36:26-27



Controlling Our Emotions with Truth


In ancient Hebrew and Greek, the heart was considered the seat of knowledge, thinking, and understanding; the place of moral responsibility. In Scripture, the heart is the mind and will of a person, and that includes emotions. The heart believes and thinks. The heart can either believe God's Word and think good and true things (Phil 4:9), or it can disbelieve God's Word and think twisted and false things. Emotions come only in response to what the heart believes and thinks. Emotions respond to whatever the heart perceives to be true, even if it's not true. The "secret" to controlling our emotions is continuously filling our minds with the truths of Scripture and believing what God says. Please note, I will be using the terms heart and mind interchangeably in this post.


Those of us who have a hard time controlling our emotions don't have an emotional problem but a mental one. (We all struggle with this to one degree or another). When emotions get in front of the mind, problems will arise. Before we allow our emotions to take over, we should pause and ask ourselves, "Am I trusting in God's Word, or am I trusting in how I feel? Am I being humble or proud? Am I believing true things or false things?"


We indirectly control our emotions when we primarily control the mind. We must first make it a habit to feed on divine truth with our minds, believe the truth in our hearts, and then allow the truth to reign in our lives and rule over our emotions. But when we allow our emotions to reign and rule, we aren't even able to receive truth, let alone submit to it. Emotions can blind us when they get in front of the mind. When we put the "cart before the horse," things don't usually work out too well. May the Word of God, planted in our hearts, be far more powerful to us than our own feelings. May the Word of God lead and control us instead of our feelings.


Emotions are Important


Christianity doesn't do away with emotions. It just regulates them. Emotions are good signals and supporters of what we believe and think in our hearts, when what we believe is true. So I'm not saying to ignore how we feel! Emotions are important. They're part of being created in God's image. They bring color into our lives! Emotions allow us to relate to one another and bond with our family and friends. Without any emotion, life would be un-motivating and daunting. Life would hardly be called "life," without feeling the world around us.


Our feelings can be good signals that we ought to pay attention to. The Lord gave us gut feelings and intuitions for a reason. These built-in mechanisms can alert us to dangerous situations and warn us about manipulative people and wolves in sheep's clothing. Furthermore, they can give us feelings of either peace or unrest about an important decision we make. Not only that, God commands us to feel! All throughout Scripture, it says to rejoice always (Phil 4:4, 1 Thess 5:16), delight ourselves in the Lord (Psalm 37:3), be glad and shout for joy (Psalm 32:11), cherish and relish His commandments (Psalm 112:1). Our feelings matter greatly to the Lord, and joy is not an option for the Christian! Obedience without affection is legalism, but obedience that takes delight in obeying God is true love. If we're obeying God without any feelings for Him, we should really pause and examine our own hearts to see if we're truly in the faith.


Our feelings are never to be ignored or discounted. They are good signals that God has given to help us navigate this life and serve Him from the heart. So we see that emotions can make for good supporters, but they are never reliable leaders. We should never allow our feelings to determine our actions or truth. They can't be the final word. God's Word is the final Word.


The Remedy


Daily meditating on the truth, especially the truth of the Gospel and our election, is the remedy to gaining control over our emotions. Over time, this powerful little habit will make a huge impact on how we think, feel, and operate in both favorable and unfavorable circumstances, big and small. That's why Scripture says to renew our minds in the truth (Rom 12:2, Eph 4:23). I'm not saying it's easy, but it is simple, and it works. Daily feeding on God's Word and meditating on Scripture answers all our emotional problems. When we meditate on the truth that our biggest problem was solved 2,000 years ago on a cross, we realize that all our current problems are much, much smaller.


Remembering and pondering the glorious truth that Jesus died for me and forgave me all my sins, saved me from an eternity in hell, and gifted me with eternal life instead, really helps me regulate my emotions! The truth of the Gospel is humbling. The truth of predestination and election is humbling. The truth kills my pride and helps me let go of any angst or self-pity I have about any seemingly "unfair" circumstances I'm in. It also helps me let go of anger, resentment, or any unforgiveness I may have toward anyone who has wronged me. When I ponder Jesus and what He has done for me for even a few minutes, my emotions stop ruling over me so intensely. When put into practice, it has proven to be a 100% success rate, and it's the best reality check there is. In fact, when I think about how Jesus died for me, all my negative thoughts and feelings get replaced with feelings of gratitude and words of praise. There's just no room for anger, worry, or complaining in a thankful heart.


A Strong Heart is a Peaceful One


In Part 1, we read about how God gives us a new heart through faith in Christ. We learned that we are to guide and guard our hearts in the truth. But how do we grow and strengthen our hearts in the truth?


In his letter to the Colossians, Paul says, "I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf...that their hearts may be encouraged (strengthened) (Col 2:1). The Greek word Paul uses is parakaleō, which gives the three-fold definition of strength, courage, and comfort. A strong heart is one that holds on to its convictions and principles. A strong heart holds on to the truth, but never by its own strength. Jesus tells His disciples that He will send a Helper, One who will strengthen, encourage, comfort, and be with them forever (John 14:16). When we were given new hearts through faith in Christ, we were also given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us become stronger and stronger in our convictions and the things we believe about Jesus, who will guard our hearts from deception and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). When we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit, He will transform us into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).


When we make it a habit to feed on God's Word, pray to our Heavenly Father in Jesus' name, and submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit's leading in our lives, He will continue to strengthen our hearts in the truth. That's why Jesus says, "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27). When we trust Jesus and believe the Truth, the peace of Christ will rule in our hearts (Col 3:15). And we will rejoice and be glad, giving glory to God.


Dear Heavenly Father,


May Your Word continue to transform my heart to think, speak, and act more and more like Jesus, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. May the truth of the Gospel continue to soften my heart. May I never be afraid because I know Jesus is in control, and I trust in Him with all my heart. After all, He's the One who gave me a new one <3


All glory belongs to Jesus. This I pray in His name, amen.

 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:26-27


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:7-9


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and My Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). 


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