Back to The Quick Teachings Page
Emotions are feelings that everyone experiences with varying degrees of intensity.
In the Christian world, these emotions are often misunderstood. It is not clear whether they should be trusted or whether they should be part of the Christian life in our relationship with God.
Some will tell us that God created emotions and therefore they are good and should be trusted, others will say that emotions are feelings of the flesh and should not be trusted at all. But neither of these statements is correct in relation to what the Bible teaches.
I used to think that when a person knows how something works then they will be able to deal with it much more effectively. The same is true for emotions. In this quick teaching we will try to understand better how emotions work so that we can adapt ours to what the Bible teaches us so that we are no longer ruled by our moods.
Yes God created emotions, but not the ones you and I have today in most cases!
Emotions are thoughts generated by sensors. These sensors are our 5 senses. Taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight are the sensors in our body that send information to our soul (our intelligence) throughout our day. Our thoughts can also sometimes generate emotions.
You must understand the functions of your spirit, soul and body in order to understand your emotions. If you don't, you can go to the “Bible Studies” page of our website and download the study called Spirit, Soul and Body.
When God created Adam and Eve, and until the fall, this is how emotions worked:
The body sent information through its five senses, just as thought generated its emotions. The body sent information through its five senses, just as the thought generated its emotions. This information arrived in the soul, and then the soul only passed this information on and sent it to the spirit, without ever changing it.
We might then ask, what is the purpose of the soul if it only transits the emotions to the spirit?
This transit in the soul is there to develop intelligence through intellectual memory. For example, the first time we experience something like hot, cold, sound level, joy, etc., our intelligence, which is our soul, will store the feeling that was generated in its memory. So when we are faced with the same information, the memory does its job. This was the purpose of the soul in the beginning before the fall: to develop the memory through experience and to generate the right reactions immediately. The soul was totally submitted to the spirit, and the spirit directed the being.
Simply put, the spirit of man received this information and could process it according to his thought, which was in total agreement with God's thought. So this is a quick picture of the configuration that man was in before the fall.
When Adam and Eve fell, the Bible tells us that the sin came from eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that moment on, a major change took place in the soul, which then had repercussions in the body and spirit. The Bible says that Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Few Christians have understood what it means to have received the knowledge of good and evil. Before they ate the fruit, Adam and Eve were dependent on God for all their thoughts. Eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil cut humans off from this dependence on God's thoughts on the one hand, so that humans found themselves in a gradual loss of their relationship with God, and on the other hand, from that moment on humans found themselves in a situation where they themselves decide what is good and what is evil without reference to what God says. In other words, the knowledge of good and evil that has entered man has positioned him in a system of thought where he himself makes the decision to consider what is good and what is evil.
To understand how things work today, it is important to differentiate between a person who is born again and one who is not. For the sake of clarity we will start with the case of a person who is not born again.
With the passage of time, the knowledge of good and evil having taken root in the thinking of the human being, if we take today a person who has not passed through the new birth, here is what we can observe in general...
The fact of having acquired this knowledge of good and evil has positioned the soul of this person in a leadership role if I may say so. Indeed, if before the fall the soul had a role of simple executor in relation to the spirit, it entered a role of decision-maker after the fall. In practical terms (for a person who is not born again), this means this:
In the same way that before the fall information came from our five senses and our memory, sometimes, this time when it arrives at the level of the soul, this information will be kept and especially interpreted by the soul. The soul will make a judgement which in most cases is not at all based on the nature of God but on the flesh. The spirit of man is then inoperative, suffocated by the soul which is henceforth the entity that decides and judges all things good or bad according to its personality (which is the personality of the person), the sin that dominates it and the circumstances. This influence will be different for everyone. This is why we can find people who are not born again and who sometimes act in certain areas even better than other people who are born again, or the opposite.
The soul and the body then direct the whole person according to their desires.
In the case of a born again person, there is a major change in the soul.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The spirit of man is then restored to its pre-fall state: perfect and free from the influence of sin, having been sealed and made hermetic by the Holy Spirit at the new birth according to Ephesians 4:30.
But just as the soul went through a process of overcoming our spirit, so too the soul will have to go through a process of being renewed by voluntary action, so that it can be transformed and gradually returned to its original pre-fall state.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
That is why it is not automatic, it is only when we decide in a very practical way to enter into a transformation of our person to activate the nature of God in us, that we will be able to see this same nature of God manifesting itself in our attitudes and words.
Our emotions therefore need to be educated in some way. Too many Christians still act after years of conversion according to their emotions. Often the problem is that people do not recognise the nature of their emotions (soul or spirit?). I have seen many people who think they are acting according to their spirit but in fact are reacting according to their emotions.
No area is excluded, even in local church meetings for example: good music that gives a certain atmosphere, a few words that touch us on a personal subject and quickly we can fall into this trap of emotion.
The characteristic of an emotion is that it does not last in time; that is how we recognize it most of the time. The emotion will push our body or our thought to act quickly without really thinking based on the reflexes that the soul will have generated according to the circumstance in which we find ourselves.
What is the fruit that this or that feeling will produce in your life?
This is how you will be able to recognise that you have acted (or not) on an emotion managed by your soul and not by your spirit: on the result that it generates. In this way, we realise that sometimes some of our emotions are still managed and interpreted by our soul and this is not a good thing.
If I take my example from a local church meeting, over the years I have seen hundreds of people make good decisions on emotions that they have left behind a few days or weeks later. In the same way I have seen people who have made bad decisions in meetings or in everyday life on the basis of an emotion created by various circumstances.
So there are good decisions that we can make under the influence of emotion, but the proof that we were under the influence of emotion is that the good decision does not last.
Are you struggling with your self-discipline for example?
Then chances are you are being deceived by your emotions into thinking you are acting out of your spirit. Then chances are you are more sensitive to the circumstances around you than to what Jesus taught.
This shows us that there are not only bad emotions that will necessarily lead us into sin. There are also good decisions that, taken on the spur of the moment, will not stand the test of time.
Most emotions in the Christian world come from people who sometimes make a good decision but don't stick to it. Music, preaching, prayer meetings, these moments can be landing grounds for my emotions if I am not careful.
There may be several reasons for this. We will not be able to see them all in this teaching, but we will see the main ones.
Self-discipline is one of the keys to a successful Christian life. If you do not have self-discipline, in other words if you feel that you are not yet mature enough or if you do not do what you say you will do, then you have a problem that can be solved quite easily with motivation and determination.
Start by really wanting to learn to manage your emotions!
Emotion is like a manipulation of the soul that is not renewed. It is a counterfeit of reality.
Some may say to me: “Franck, I don't feel that my emotions are a counterfeit of reality because my emotions are based on facts that are very real “.
To this I would reply: “Yes, you are absolutely right. It is not the circumstances that are the problem but my reaction to them”. Remember, emotion is a fact or a thought that your soul will interpret to transform it according to its carnal and weak way of apprehending things. Often a person who acts on emotion will not take the time to reflect or be aware of the consequences of that decision. This can lead to a lot of unpleasantness later on.
For this there are a few rules we can follow that will help us.
When you are about to make a decision concerning your spiritual life, especially in a certain atmosphere, whether it is in a local church meeting, listening to a teaching or even praying, it is imperative not to be out of touch with reality, manipulated by what my unrenewed soul would have me believe.
We can take an example like this:
I could spend a long time in a worship meeting. The music carries me effectively into the worship, I can sing words like: “Yes take all Lord... Do with me whatever you want...” and many other such words. Here I think I am in the fullness of God but I sing without really realising what I am saying. This is unfortunately the case for a majority of Christians. Then the next day, someone may have a negative attitude towards me and I will become offended. This offence may manifest itself in different ways depending on my personality: annoyance, withdrawal, denial of the offending person and many other reactions. In this case I acted on emotion: I did not realise the depth of what I said when I sang to God the day before, because what I said did not last very long. As soon as my person is a bit badly treated, I react badly. However, when I sang “Yes take all Lord”, taking all here also included my person, my honour, and my personality.
This is to show that everyone is concerned with their emotions. It is just like maturity. All those who go through the new birth enter into a process that takes them from immaturity to maturity. At least that must be the path that all must take. But my point here is that every Christian is concerned and will sooner or later have to start managing his or her emotions so that he or she is no longer ruled by them if he or she wants to move forward in a deep relationship with God.
Knowing the areas or situations where I might be deceived by my emotions will help me considerably. For this I will need to be objective about myself. Very few people are because objectivity requires real maturity in God... but the Holy Spirit is only too happy to help you. Don't hesitate to ask Him: “Holy Spirit, help me to be objective about myself”.
The problem is that the vast majority of Christians who are ruled by their emotions do not realise this. Sometimes they even deny it outright (a bit of pride helping...), even when pointed out to them by a specific fact. Unfortunately, this is also a common attitude in Christian circles.
The prophet Nathan understood this with King David. Did God point this out to him? The Bible does not say. However, Nathan knew that if he went to King David and pointed out to him that he had acted out of emotion by coveting the wife of one of his soldiers, there was a good chance that David would have refused to admit it. We can find the details of this story in 2 Samuel 11:2-12:7. To give an outline, King David, having allowed his relationship with God to wane, allowed emotion to dictate his actions. He took another man's wife and had the husband murdered after an unsuccessful attempt to hide his adultery. Although the Bible does not say so, we can safely assume that God Himself asked the prophet Nathan to go to David and tell him a parable instead of speaking directly to him about what he had done. As we said, there is a strong possibility that David would not have admitted his fault if Nathan had spoken to him directly and he would have denied the facts. Therefore, it is quite possible that God used a parable to get David to admit the truth.
This shows us that some people find it difficult to admit that they have acted on their emotions.
If you do act emotionally and it is rightly pointed out to you, the best thing is to accept it and decide to use it as a personal lesson to change in that area and decide not to make the same mistake again.
This is why humility is an important quality if we want to get rid of the deception of some of our emotions. To this we can add that we can meet some people who are simply naive in this area and will not always notice the deception.
Pride will prevent me from accepting that I have been deceived by an emotion, whether it is pointed out to me or even if I notice it myself. Naivety will prevent me from realising that I have been fooled by one of my emotions.
As we said above, it is impossible to suppress the emotions that come into my soul, but the aim is to react in the right way when my soul is not renewed enough.
So I must not allow myself to be manipulated by my soul and not accept what it tries to make me believe. The best way to do this is to renew this weakness of my soul, according to what Paul says in:
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We will not have time here to go into the details of how to renew our soul in depth. However, in broad terms, renewing my soul will enable me not only to know what God's will is in a situation but also to discern what is good and what is less good in relation to what I might be confronted with.
The renewal of my soul comes through what I call a saturation of my soul with everything that has to do with the Word of God. Studying the Bible, praying, singing praises, reading good biblical books, listening to good teachings, sharing with brothers and sisters, directing my thoughts to what God is saying during my days, all of this included in regular actions taking place at least once a day, will be the road to a well renewed soul.
I often tell people that soul renewal is like a spring. I can pull on a spring and stay in that position for months. As long as I maintain this force to stretch my spring it will stay in its shape and not move. But if at any time I release the tension of the force exerted, my spring will return to its original shape in proportion to my release. Our soul is a spring that never relaxes. That is why it needs to be constantly renewed.
The realisation that you are a person who sometimes still relies on your emotions is an important point to acknowledge. We are all different, some will be more or less sensitive to their emotions. But what is certain is that as I progress in my spiritual advancement I must come to the point where I no longer act on an emotion that generates a carnal thought. By carnal thought we are talking here about thought contrary to what God says.
One of the problems is also that in our societies today the vast majority of things are based on emotion. Emotion is what most people use in society when they want something from someone. This is why it is important to be aware of the main areas where I could potentially be dependent on my emotions. We can see that these areas go far beyond the spiritual area of our lives.
When someone wants to sell you something, in 90% of the cases this person will try to make you act on your emotions. Generally speaking, someone you don't know who wants to get something from you will try to play on your emotions. Of course this is not always done consciously (although some people do) as the use of emotions has become so natural in our society.
Therefore, anyone from childhood, and especially during childhood, will have been more or less regularly solicited by their emotions. Children are a perfect target for those who are ill-intentioned in this respect because these children do not yet have a developed maturity nor a will always accompanied by common sense. However, and unfortunately, we also find adults who will sometimes be in this pattern and will live in many areas dependent on their emotions: advertising of all kinds, compulsive purchases, resolutions at the beginning of the year, actions in a certain atmosphere, etc. are areas that, if we are not careful, will become an integral part of our lives.
The renewal of our soul is an important part of the solution. It includes many aspects of the success of our Christian life. However, there are also some attitudes that we can adopt that will greatly help us to stop being deceived by our flesh-modified emotions. They are given here simply as examples.
The first of the things I often say to our Bible college leadership students is: “You must learn to always do what you say. This will force you to think carefully before you speak on the one hand, and to weigh the consequences and imperatives of the thought that is in you before you speak it on the other”.
I see a majority of Christians who do not always do what they say, so often when they are confronted with someone who does what they say; they take it for granted that this will not happen because they have made a habit of not doing what they say. This implies that these people will not consider (by default) that their interlocutor is a person who does what they say. As a result, “Doing what you say” has come to be seen by most as something exceptional, whereas the Bible shows us that it is only normal.
James 5:12 … But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,”…
This word of James is often used as an example of a person changing his mind in a conversation. But even if this is true, the meaning of this word also includes not doing what I said before.
Forcing myself to always do what I say is the backbone of the Christian life. More than 90% of the results in my life will depend on this.
Secondly, it is important to know that the temptation to give in to our emotions is omnipresent in our lives, the Bible calls them temptations. For example, not getting carried away with a hasty decision is a good habit. satan will always try to push us to act as quickly as possible so that we don't take the time to think about the imperatives and the consequences. It is important to know the main situations where I might be caught up in my emotions.
For example, if I am involved in a discussion in which a disagreement has arisen, I can disagree with someone and still be polite and courteous in my attitudes and thoughts.
Another example would be when I am in a shop or on a website with the intention of buying an item or service. If there is no urgency, a good attitude is to let a few days pass and then ask myself again: “Do I really need this? Is it within my financial means? Etc...”
I don't have a problem with animals, but there are also times when people are emotional with pets. I can't count the number of times I've seen a Christian person have a pet and treat that pet better than they treat some human beings. The way they speak, their attitudes and gestures are actions where emotion can hide. Often we notice that this kind of person who is emotional with his or her pet, has difficulties in human relationships. When you think about it, an animal doesn't contradict me, doesn't upset me, doesn't sulk or argue with me. That's why you find these kinds of people operating on their emotions with their animals as a breath of fresh air compared to their human relationships. The Bible shows us that a human being will always be at a higher level of value than any animal.
Some may say to me: “But Franck, I have experienced such negative people that I sometimes prefer the company of animals!” Yes, it is quite possible that sometimes human beings behave unacceptably, but an animal has not received a spirit from God as humans have. An animal remains an animal.
We cannot change others but we can change ourselves, this is a rule that I apply in my personal life and which is of great help to me in human relationships.
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
We could add many more practical examples. These are there simply to give an image that our emotions can take in order to deceive us.
Of course in this teaching we are not talking about feelings like love, friendship, etc., but only about immature emotions that are antagonistic to what the Bible says is reasonable.
The emotion generated by our soul acts without thinking attracted by a precise goal while the reason of our spirit will evaluate the actions to reach a precise goal. The emotion wants to act quickly, while the spirit takes the necessary time.
Jesus gives us two examples that we can use being (ourselves) out of a hurry so as not to let our emotions rule us:
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it.
Luke 14:31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
Remember that emotion is very sneaky, so you need to “train” your soul on this. Don't hesitate to think of many different scenarios that could (depending on your personality) happen in your life and cause you to act on an emotion. This will give you a sense of déjà vu when the real circumstance arrives one day in front of you. You will then be much more reactive in the right way because you may have already thought several times about this circumstance that is now in front of your eyes. So you give yourself every chance to act on what your spirit (itself directed by the Holy Spirit) will show you.
For example, if you are a person who is touchy, easily upset, or even easily offended, prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to help you and try to visualise a situation where you would be led to react badly under emotion. There while praying, visualise such a situation and project yourself into that same situation with a calm and mature attitude. As a result your soul will receive a scenario about you with a positive attitude because you will have trained and renewed your soul. This kind of regularly repeated moment will transform you and your emotions will no longer be modified by your soul.
Bye for now...
All rights reserved - 2023 - TRGN-LVBN