“If it feels good, do it,” was the moral imperative of my generation in the 1960s. It was fueled by Woodstock, the sexual revolution, and liberated proponents of the prerogatives of pleasure.
We’ve been told through the years in many different ways to follow our feelings. Remember the scene in Star Wars when Obi-Wan Kanobi told Luke Skywalker, “Trust your feelings, Luke! Feel the force!”
Of course, the script was probably written by someone who wanted to promote that philosophy. So Luke turned off his computer. Trusted his feelings. And it worked. He hit the target and blew up the Imperial Death Star and rescued the galaxy.
Then there was the 1970’s song by Pat Boone’s daughter, Debby, who sang “You light up my life!” which included this popular line, “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right.”.
Advertising often appeals to our feelings to satisfy some material, fleshly, or carnal desire. I recall the beer commercial that encouraged, “You only go around once in life. So grab for all the gusto you can get.”
Focusing on and being guided by the feel-good philosophy continues to drive our culture in the 21st century.
Religiously, many folks allow their convictions to be formed by their feelings. I’ve heard people say, “I know I’m saved because I feel it right here” as they pound their heart.
Sadly the message of the health and wealth gospel of prosperity preachers appeals to self-gratification. Discipleship is not defined by self-sacrifice, cross-bearing, or personal commitment, but by what we can get out of it. What it will do for us. And how it will make us happy.
Moral decisions are too often made based on selfish feelings. At one congregation where I preached years ago, a man left his wife for a married woman. Both couples were Christians. When the elders approached the sinning couple, he justified leaving his wife and children, as he pointed to the object of his illicit affection saying, “She makes me happy.”
I’ve studied with people who justified their doctrinal positions, although not taught in the Bible because they just felt good about their beliefs. Others have admitted their views were not in line with Scriptural teaching, but opine, “I don’t feel like God will condemn me for that.”
We may be fooled by our feelings. So, consider these two thoughts:
(1) The devil is the master of manipulating your feelings.
He made Eve feel like she was missing out on something she should enjoy. She felt the need to feel wise. To enjoy the forbidden fruit. But her feelings led her away from fellowship with God. And resulted in banishment from her paradise home.
In yesterday’s post, we observed how Jacob was deceived into thinking that his favorite son Joseph was dead. But he wasn’t. He was fooled.
Satan made life miserable for the patriarch, Job. What was his purpose in attacking Job physically, mentally, and emotionally? To get him to renounce God. To deny his faith. Job’s friends tried to make him feel worse, by suggesting he wasn’t as righteous as he appeared to be. While Job didn’t understand what was going on, he refused to allow his feelings to squash his faith.
The devil tried to manipulate Jesus’ feelings with temptations that appealed to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. But Jesus refused. And countered by relying on God’s Word with the repeated refrain, “It is written.” That’s pretty good advice for us today when we’re tempted to be led astray by our feelings.
(2) If you follow your feelings, you may be choosing to believe the devil.
Judas, who betrayed Jesus, allowed Satan to enter his heart. His greed, dishonesty and selfish desires led him down a destructive path. His feelings soon changed. And he was filled with guilt. Remorse. And despair.
Feelings of unbridled and uncontrolled anger come from Satan. Paul warned in our anger not to sin nor give the devil a foothold (Eph. 4:25-27). Greed isn’t good. It occurs when we allow Satan to enter our hearts. When we fail to walk according to the Spirit and follow our carnal feelings it results in sinful attitudes and actions (Gal. 5:16-23).
Feelings of doubt are from the devil. An unknown author reminds us, “If you feed your faith, your faith will grow. If you feed your doubts, your doubts will grow. Whichever one you feed will surely grow.”
The Christian life is not based on feelings. “We walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Or by fleeting feelings.
These words, attributed to Martin Luther as quoted in The Adversary by Mark Bubeck, surely serve as a needful warning and helpful admonition.
Feelings come and feelings go
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God,
Naught else is worth believing.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman