Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ seek to avoid living by our feelings. We cannot, however, escape the fact that we live with them.
The Apostle Paul testified to the experience of being “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (II Corinthians 6:10). Rather than viewing sorrow and joy as mutually exclusive sensibilities, Paul recognized their concurrent presence in the hearts of believers. We exist as both heavenly and earthly beings in our present existence, with both realms having powerful influence on our mental, emotional and physical state.
“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (II Corinthians 4:7-10).
Genuine godliness in this lifetime involves not only the Treasure, and not merely the earthen vessel, but rather the Treasure in the earthen vessel. Thus, we must expect conflicting sensibilities, even to the degree that no less than Paul confessed, “When I would do good, evil is present with me” (Romans 7:21).
Acknowledging the opposing forces of feeling within us prepares us to live with the conflict, but more importantly, to live by the deeper movings and motivations of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Indeed, we learn to expect changing mental, emotional and physical conditions, but even more, we anticipate the power of God to enable consistent faithfulness regardless of how we feel. The matter involves faith, the faith that rightly believes the presence of Christ to be the dominant influence of our hearts. It is, and to the degree we acknowledge such liberating truth will be the degree to which we learn to live with our feelings, but not by them.
“We faint not, but though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day.”
(II Corinthians 4:16)