By Ada Brownell
There’s a line of an old popular song that says, “”How can it be wrong when it feels so right?”
It’s possible to be fooled by our feelings.
A middle-aged man left his wife and four children. While attorneys arranged the divorce settlement, the man began living with the woman he planned to marry. He changed churches, sat by his mistress, and took an active part in church functions.
Everyone in the church thought the couple was married, until someone who knew the man visited the church.
When his sin was exposed, the man told the pastor, “I never felt more at peace with God in my life.” He tried to justify his conduct by his feelings, regardless of the Biblical teaching on the subject.
WE tend to place too much importance on feelings. It is true that joy and peace—both important by-products of a close relationship with God. But how we feel does not necessarily indicate our spiritual condition in His sight.
One pastor remarked recently that in his counseling sessions he is finding it necessary to put greater emphasis on obedience to Scripture.
“If the Bible says it’s wrong, it’s wrong no matter how you may feel about it,” he said.
How can we guard against being fooled by our feelings?
First, we should get a proper understanding on conscience—which probably contributes to our feelings of peace or guilt.
Conscience is defined as “the moral sense” and was given prominence by God when He made a new covenant with man by writing His laws in human minds and hearts (Hebrews 8:10).
An Indian described conscience this way: “Conscience has three corners. It stands still when I when I am good, but when I am bad, it turns around and around in my heart, and the corners hurt. If I keep doing wrong, the corners wear off. Then it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
In his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul wrote of in sensitive people whose conscience has become “seared with a hot iron” (1Timothy 4:2). In his letter to another church Paul pointed out that some people are “past feeling,” meaning their consciences could not be pricked (Ephesians 4:19).
Next, we should examine ourselves to see whether peace has come over us because we have fed our egos. A good feeling may come from satisfying our desires and lusts or for building ourselves up.
Ego enhancement is the basis of most illicit affairs, according to some counselors. Some people are willing to sacrifice everything they hold dear to satisfy their egos.
Third, we should ask ourselves if the feeling of peace comes from doing what is easiest.
When we face an obstacle or a mountain of work, there is the temptation to look for an easy way out. It is much easier to give up and slide downhill than to conquer a mountain. It is obvious, however, that we probably will be injured by giving up and sliding down than by continuing the struggle and reaching for the top.
Nevertheless, a good feeling envelops one when he gives up responsibility. I remember well the peaceful feeling that came when I gave up certain church tasks over which I had lost sleep and shed many tears. Inactivity takes a load off one’s back, but the sense of relief may not indicate one is doing God’s will.
Fourth, we should consider whether our sense of peace comes from how society views our conduct.
Society today accepts the murder of millions of unborn babies. It condones all kinds of sexual sins –and even crime sometimes.
Recently at a state university someone informed the sponsor of the campus newspaper that one of the young men elected to student government had been arrested, was on probation, and was obligated to make restitution of several thousands of dollars. The newspaper sponsor simply shrugged his shoulders. He said, “So what?” and pointed out that other student government officers were of similar reputation.
Society may refuse to look at something as sin, but we can’t measure our conduct by society’s rules. God’s Word is the only accurate guide.
Finally, in analyzing our feelings of peace we should ask ourselves whether we have sincerely sought God’s will.
Someone has said God isn’t interested in revealing His will to satisfy our curiosity. God wants us first to be committed to doing His will—then He will lead us.
We know it is God’s will for us to obey His Word. He will never lead us to act contrary to the Scripture.
Because something feels good does not indicate it is God’s will. Sometimes doing God’s will won’t feel good. It might be painful and frustrating, as it must have been to Paul when he went out to preach and landed in prison.
Yet when it’s all done, we will have reached the desired goal, as Paul did. Even though we have to endure perilous times, we can have the joy that is unspeakable and full of glory because God is with us. He will keep us in perfect peace if we walk with Him.
--The Pentecostal Evangel, Feb. 6, 1983