New Wine for New Wineskins April 2007

By , March 31, 2007 4:22 pm

Feelings v Faith


 "How are you feeling?" is no longer the question we should be asking people.  We should be asking them, "What are you believing?"…

  We don’t want to be a people without feeling – God gave us the ability to feel, but our feelings should be governed by what we believe and not vice versa.

In Hebrews 4: 4 it says that we have a High Priest who can sympathise with our weaknesses because he was tempted in all the areas that we are tempted in – but never yielded to that temptation and so never sinned.  In the KJV it is translated that he can be “touched with the feeling of our infirmities”.  So, Jesus felt what we feel but he never allowed what he felt to swerve him from what he believed, even though he was tempted to do so!

We are a triune being made in the image of God.  We are made up of spirit, soul, and body.  Our soul is made up of our mind, will, and emotions.  Let’s look more closely at the area of our soul that is the emotions .  When we are born again the Holy Spirit begins to produce fruit in our lives and the fruit of the emotions are love, joy, and peace.  Fruit is produced from seed and so the seed that produces the fruit of the Spirit is the Word of God!  Jesus went into his time of intense temptation in the wilderness full of the Spirit and came out in the power of the Spirit.  The seed that produced the fruit of victory in his life was the Word of God!  He was tempted by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  He was tempted by the desire to indulge, the desire to acquire, and the desire to impress. The secret to stable and supernaturally charged emotions is the word, the word, the word.  In this teaching we will begin to look at the fruit of the Spirit that is love.

Hebrews 5: 7 – 11

7 During his life on earth, Jesus prayed to God, who could save him from death. He prayed and pleaded with loud crying and tears, and he was heard because of his devotion to God. 8 Although Jesus was the Son [of God], he learned to be obedient through his sufferings. 9 After he had finished his work, he became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who obeys him.
10 God appointed him high priest in the way Melchizedek was a priest. 11 We have a lot to explain about this. But since you have become too lazy to pay attention (dull of hearing), explaining it to you is hard.

There is a deception that I have been seeking to pinpoint for some time that has taken some soul-wrestling to reach the place in my spirit where I could hear the truth that exposes the false. 

Firstly, let’s get something cleared up.  Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfil the law, and in essence to distil the law. He came to reveal the truth about the Father and the reality that all of the law is fulfilled by LOVE.  After all, God is love.  But that is not God defined by our understanding of what love is, but rather love defined by all that God is.

A lot of Christians are wary of saying anything that they deem to sound “unloving” in the fear that they might come across as “legalistic”.  There is still law – but now it is the law of love.  If you take a fresh look at Jesus’ ministry you will see him at times acting in a manner that many in the church today would term as “legalistic”.  For example, when he kicked over the tables, took a whip and drove the money-changers out of the Temple was he being “legalistic”?  The short answer is “no” – he was simply applying the law of love concerning his father’s house which was supposed to be a place of prayer and not a den of thieves. However, if that same criteria was applied today there would be cries of “where is the love?” or “this is legalism!”

When Jesus pronounced a long list of “woe’s” against the religious crowd was that still God who is love speaking? Many today would cry, “That’s too hard! You can’t win people with talk like that!” 

What we have seen, and are seeing, in our society as old laws are changed and new laws are introduced in order to facilitate immorality and render everything politically correct is simply the result of a shift that began in the church when a subtle message was introduced that seemed to suggest that law and love were opposed to one another.  The truth is that God’s law is a manifestation of his love.  We no longer need the letter of the law only when we are walking in the reality of love as defined by God – and all that he is.

There have been times when people have said to me that my preaching was hard and that they felt beaten up at the end of a message.  When I heard that I would feel really bad and yet I knew that I had been faithful in bringing the word that the Lord had given me with a sense of the Father’s heart for his children.  Many times I would feel the intensity of emotion that the Father feels as he seeks to correct the areas of his children’s lives that are causing them pain and leading them in a wrong direction.

Hebrews 12: 5 – 17

5 And all of you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. 7 If all of you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? 8 But if all of you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are all of you bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For all of you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

I have no right to discipline someone else’s children – only my own.  In the same way, the Father doesn’t discipline those who are not his sons – only those who have come into relationship with him as sons.  Jesus says in John 1 that he gave to as many as received him the right to be called the children of God.  This gives them the right to call God Father and in turn gives the Father the right to deal with them as sons.

The Father chastens (disciplines) those whom he loves.  In fact, he scourges (whips as a form of punishment) every son whom he receives.  And – surprise, surprise – it is for our benefit, so that we can be partakers of his holiness and so that which is lame (not walking right) can be healed.  What would the politically correct make of that, I wonder?

1 Timothy 5: 20

20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

2 Timothy 4: 2

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Titus 1: 12 – 13

12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, sluggards. 13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith

Titus 2: 15

15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise you.

Revelation 3: 19

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

And so it would appear that our Father is not averse to disciplining and rebuking his children when it is necessary.

1 John 4: 7 – 19

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. 8 He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.

How often do we hear that there is no fear in love and therefore since God is love and he loves us there is no place for us to fear him.  And it is absolutely true that if we are walking in the law of love then there is absolutely no need to fear – but if we are violating that law then we should fear.  In fact, much of the torment that people struggle with in their lives is the result of not abiding in love.

If I am driving my car below the legal speed limit and I know that all of the legal issues regarding my car and myself are in order then when I see a blue light flashing behind me there is no need for me to fear.  But if I am aware that there is something that is illegal then the flashing blue light strikes fear and produces torment and I immediately begin to rebuke myself for being so stupid as to think that I could go on indefinitely ignoring the law and get away with it.  And now that I have been found out I am going to have to pay the penalty.

2 Timothy 1: 7

7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

A more accurate translation of fear in this verse is timidity, fearfulness, or cowardice and if you take this verse in context it is actually referring to boldness in witnessing and living the life God designed us to live.

Romans 8: 15

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Our understanding of Father needs to come up! Remember – it is the Holy Spirit who births this cry in our spirit.  He always comes to take us up – out of the earthbound and into the heavenly realm.  This is our Father in heaven – not to be confused with our father on the earth.  Jesus actually said to call no man father – in other words we are not to bring this relationship down to the level of a human relationship in our understanding.  The prodigal son had to arise before he could be reconciled with his father.

This cry of “Abba, Father” is birthed in our spirit from where there is always a positive response to the Word of God.  Our spirit recognises that this is our Father speaking and responds with a desire to obey and act on what has been spoken.  But if our soul is not renewed and in submission to our spirit then it can corrupt this cry and bring the reality of Father down to a place of faulty understanding where he is our servant rather than us being his servants.

Let me ask a question.  In the breakdown of our school system what came first?  Was it a lack of honour and respect or was it a lack of discipline? Obviously it was the decision to remove any form of corporal punishment from the classroom.  In the wake of that decision a tidal wave of insubordination and lawlessness has arisen with zero respect or honour for teaching staff who are, after all, there to help and to prepare and equip their pupils for a successful life and career.  Children are now informed that they have rights and teachers are told that they must not violate these rights in any way that might diminish poor little Johnny or Jeannie’s self-esteem!

Similarly, in society at large, the penalties for law-breaking have been reduced to a joke and prisoners have been given more rights than the victims of their criminality.  Laws that once governed morality have been removed or relaxed to such an extent that what was once deemed to be perverse is now not only acceptable but  promoted as desirable.  And everyone has rights.  Except, that is, for those who say that there are things that have been given rights that are still wrong!

But what about the church?  Sadly, we have adopted (or perhaps we even initiated) the same strategy for self-destruction. How often – if ever – do you hear of the pattern of church discipline (as instructed in Matthew 18: 15 – 17) being administered?  This discipline is always designed to be redemptive and yet in many churches today it would be deemed to be harsh and legalistic.

The church used to have respect and honour in the community as it was seen to be standing for something, but now it has become so weak and undisciplined that it is no longer respected or honoured.

Galatians 4: 6

6 And because all of you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Our spirit longs for the Father’s embrace.  The prodigal’s soul took him out of the Father’s embrace – but his spirit brought back into his embrace again!  Our spirit understands the level of intimacy with the Father that cries “Daddy” – but our unrenewed soul can see Daddy only as a means of supply or the satisfier of our every whim.  When we fall into the arms of the Father – into Daddy’s arms – we embrace all that he is and that includes discipline.  Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples – obedient sons.  A disciple is someone who has embraced discipline!    

1 Corinthians 5: 1 – 5

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2 And all of you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when all of you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
This is the administration of church discipline with the very definite goal of redeeming a brother from sin and its deadly consequences.

1 Corinthians 5: 9 – 13

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortionists, or with idolaters; for then must all of you essentially go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortionist; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not all of you judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judges. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Surely not!  This is too harsh!  We need to keep him close and love him unconditionally – he needs to know that he is accepted as he is!  No! He needs to know that his sin is separating him from fellowship with the Father and opening him up to deceiving, seducing spirits that are playing havoc with his soul!

We must never preach repentance without faith – and we must also never preach faith without repentance!

It all begins with love!  Godly sorrow produces repentance and repentance is the gateway to faith that is activated, energised, expressed, and put to work through love.

Hebrews 12: 11 – 13

11 Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
Many times we fail to receive healing in our bodies because we have resisted healing in our souls.  Everything that God does starts on the inside before it has a manifestation on the outside.

“Bless the LORD O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name…”

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