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Christianity – Who Rules, Reason or Emotions?

A man is either led in life by his emotions or his reason and which makes all
the difference in the world. A life ruled by emotions is a life destined for
disaster, a life where reason is always found in the back seat where it cannot
be heard over the roar of the engine of emotion as it propels an individual
down the road of life.

When emotions rule your life everything is done on the basis of feelings with
minimal thought being given to truth or reality. We do not see because we
do not want to see. We are not looking for fear we will see. Divorce courts,
bankruptcy courts, drug rehab facilities, prisons, and even the local hospitals
maintain a heavy business because emotion has ruled in a life and reason
took a back seat.

We have the same thing in Christianity but pay day has not yet come so we
have not yet been forced to confront reality. We sometimes wonder why it is
that a person cannot seem to see the truth. Well, you have to have a desire
to see it and thus be looking for it to find it. “Seek and you shall find” (Matt.
7:7 NAS) is the rule, that is the way it works. But, one only seeks when one
has a desire to find and if you are satisfied with what you have little seeking
will be done.

We do not want to see a reason why we should not marry an individual we


have fallen in love with. We do not see because we do not want to see.
What was obvious to those looking in from the outside whose emotions were
not involved is not just hidden from us but willfully so. We end up in a
divorce. The same principle applies in Christianity. We see what we want to
see if our religion is emotionally based and eventually, if that is the case with
us, it will lead us to disaster.

Truth and reason will always win out given enough time. Emotion rules for a
season, truth and reason for eternity. God’s word is truth (John 17:17). It
does not matter how you feel emotionally about what he has said. It doesn’t
matter whether or not you like it or would like to see it changed or given a
different twist than what it seems to have. Truth is not dependent upon how
one feels about it. It stands on its own regardless of what the world thinks
about it. I use the following as an illustration for a point I want to make.

Many who say they are Christians today want to see women given what they
perceive to be a greater role in the church. But, Paul said, “I do not permit a
woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” (1
Tim. 2:12 NKJV) They say it was a cultural thing and thus relates to that time
when Paul lived only. But, Paul gives the reason for his command. He says,
“For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the
woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:13-14 NKJV) If that
was the reason for the command, and Paul speaking by the Holy Spirit says it
was, then it was not a cultural thing and is still binding today.

Am I concerned with the role of women in the church in this article? No. But,
I am making a point using that issue as an example. Emotions lead us to
desire a greater role for women in the leadership and assemblies of the
church. It is not God’s word that does it. But mark this down, if your religion
is emotion based sooner or later you will have what you desire no matter
what the Bible says. Thus many denominations now have women preaching
and in leadership positions. Jesus said of God’s word that it was truth (John
17:17) but in emotion based religion truth must take a back seat and really
does not matter for emotion rules whatever the issue.

An emotion based religion is a religion that will in time no longer see the
need for Bible authority even though those holding to such a religion call
themselves Christians. Paul said, in Col. 3:17, “And whatever you do in word
or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
through him.”

It is a little hard to see how one can do a thing in the name of the Lord Jesus
about which the Lord Jesus has said nothing. To do a thing in the name of
the Lord Jesus means by his authority thus if he has not spoken on the
matter he has not given authority. If as a student a teacher has given you
authority, either a written word or a spoken word, to leave class you have
authority to leave. But, if not and you are found in the halls you are in
trouble. You acted without authority. So it is in Christianity but why is it we
are able to see the principle so readily in our daily life but not in our religion?

John says, “Any one who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of
Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both
the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9 NAS’63) The side margin note says the
literal is “goes on ahead.”

Thus, in different words, John is saying the same thing Paul said in Col. 3:17.
You cannot be doing as you please, adding to God’s word, taking from it,
going outside the book of authority that you have – the teaching of Christ,
the pages of the New Testament.
But, when emotions rule scriptures like these do not matter. We will do what
we desire word from God or no word from God and we will say whatever it is
we are doing is to God’s glory and he will be pleased. Jesus said, “God is
spirit; and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John
4:24 NAS) “Thy word is truth.” (John 17:17 NAS) We say it doesn’t matter
for our word is also truth as much as his. (Now we do not really say that but
that is the net effect of our actions for our actions speak as loudly as words.)

We become God and make the rules by which we will live and worship.
Truth, reason, and objectivity are tossed out the door while emotions
(subjectivity in all its purity) are given a hug. Many, many, many people will
tell you today they no longer need authority from God in Christianity that
they are free to do as they see best and that is exactly what they are doing.

I think one writer put it best several decades ago when he said they are ruled
not by what the Bible says but by what it does not say (G. K. Wallace). It is
emotion based religion. It is a religion that needs neither God nor his Bible
but both must be retained to hold onto a semblance of legitimacy. It is a
worship of man and man’s desires.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.
But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of
men.” (Matt. 15:8-9 NAS) They would never admit to making
commandments and would say it is a lie if you said they were doing so.

However, what if the leadership decides that next Sunday we will have a
special worship service where each one present will come forward, light a
candle, and kneel at the bottom of a picture of Jesus before returning to their
seat. Is that not commandment making? You can find no authority for it in
the New Testament and yet your leadership has said we will do this and it is
forced upon you like it or not. It is as much a commandment of men as is
anything the Pharisees ever dreamed up and it is going on every Sunday all
across this nation in one way or another in worship services, the same
general sort of thing in a thousand different manifestations.

We say it is okay, I do not mind. So what? What does that have to do with
it? The question is does God mind. We say no because he knows we are
doing it out of love for him. Trouble is he said, “this is the love of God, that
we keep his commandments.” (1 John 5:3 NAS) One of those
commandments is that we worship him in spirit and “in truth.” (John 4:24)
There is not a word of truth to be found in the New Testament with regards to
what it is we want to do on our special Sunday.
I could probably not give a better Bible example of the destructive nature of
emotions ruling in religion than the case of the Jews who refused to believe
in Jesus. Their emotions ruled them, over rode all reason, and ended up
destroying them. There was no reasoning with them. The miracles of Jesus
were to them like water off a duck’s back. So Lazarus was raised from the
dead. So what? But, that is the mind set you get into when you are dealing
with emotion based (or should I say “emotion ruled”) religion. You will never
change a person whose religion is based on emotion for reasoning with them
is out of the question. They do not think logically.

Saul, who became the apostle Paul, was a perfect example. If Jesus had not
directly intervened miraculously on the road to Damascus it is exceedingly
doubtful he would ever been converted. He could take an active role in
seeing people put to death without remorse due to the hold his emotions
held over him in his blind allegiance to Judaism. Stephen’s death at the
hands of a emotional religious mob also comes to mind (yes, we know Saul
was there).

Later on Saul, now become the apostle Paul, would say of the Jews, “they
have a zeal for God” (Rom. 10:2 NAS) in reference to the Jewish nation. He
would go on to say, “but not in accordance with knowledge.” (Rom. 10:2
NAS)

We can learn from that passage if we will. We associate zeal with deep
emotions. No one is zealous who does not have deep feelings. But,
according to this passage which must rule – zeal or knowledge, the emotions
or the mind, which needs to be given top priority?

The reader should not misunderstand what I am saying in this article. I am


not saying emotions in religion are bad. They are good. Man is an emotional
creature. God made us that way. He too has emotions. (Did you ever hear
anything in the Bible about grieving the Spirit or God being sorry he made
man?) The central theme of this article is not emotions bad, lack of emotion
good, but only that emotions cannot be the ruling force in the life of one who
would live a Christian life pleasing to God and be saved in the end.

In speaking to Judah through Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 1:18 the Lord said,
“Come now, and let us reason together.” (NKJV) That is what we ought to do
and must do (use the head, not the emotions) if we are going to do God’s will
and be saved in the last day.
There is always hope for man as long as there is a Bible provided the man
will go to the Bible and let it talk to him versus the man talking to the Bible.
Sometimes we just ought to shut up and listen, hear and heed, but you
cannot do that with emotion based religion for it must speak and have its
say.

Jeremiah, the prophet of old, said, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in
himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Jer. 10:23 NKJV)
That pretty much closes the door on any allowing of our emotions to rule our
life as far the word of God is concerned. There is, however, something
outside man that can direct his steps. What is that? The word of God. Let
us all allow it to do its work. If we do so in the end we will reap an
everlasting reward.