Can Our Emotions Be Misguided?
One of the things that stands out in Genesis 37 is the lie Jacob’s sons told their father about Joesph’s death. This lie by Joseph’s brethren is what Joseph later referred to as the “evil” they meant toward him that God turned to “good” (Genesis 50.20).
While there are many lessons to be drawn from this story, let us focus upon one lesson which relates to the role of feelings or emotions in our salvation.
Notice that the lie Jacob was told about Joesph’s death had the same effect as if it had been the truth, for Jacob believed it was true. What we see from this is that a lie believed has the same emotional effect upon you as truth.
That is why feelings or emotions cannot be the determining factor of salvation. When a person comes under conviction of sin, the emotions are stirred by the message heard. As with Jacob, although there is an emotional response, the message could be a lie.
We must remember that Satan is at work deceiving when it comes to God’s word. As he did with Eve, he perverts God’s words. The apostle Paul wanted that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So also, Satan’s ministers can disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11.14-15). Because of this, the message of salvation can be perverted.
The Galatians were being deceived by a false message. Paul wrote, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1.6-7). Salvation depends upon the truthfulness of the message. Paul preached the gospel “of Christ.” He wrote in 1 Corinthians 14.37, “The things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” As such, Paul’s message can be said to be truth. It is the standard by which all preaching is to be judged as truth or a lie.
Truth is That Which Jesus Preached.
It is important that we understand the process whereby truth came. Jesus stated that he spoke only what his Father commanded him to speak (John 12.49). Jesus gave those words to the apostles, with the commission to proclaim them to the world (John 17.8; Matthew 28.19; Mark 16.15). Matthew stated that if these words were believed and obeyed, they would make one a disciple of Jesus. Mark called these words the gospel, and acceptance was by belief and baptism. Luke referred to both the gospel message and the response as “repentance and remission of sins” being preached (Luke 24.47). Putting all three of these accounts together, we see that belief, repentance, and immersion in water are the responses to a message of truth.
Truth is That Which Came from Heaven.
Jesus said, “I speak things, as the Father taught me” (John 8.28). He said in John 14.31, “As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” This commandment that Jesus was given from the Father was eternal life (John 12.50). He said, “The word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14.24). Then we hear Jesus say, “I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; they were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they have come to know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words which you gave me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from you, and they believed that you sent me” (John 17.6-8). Their preaching was known as the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2.42). It is the standard.
When people heard this message, they were moved so deeply emotionally that it is said they were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2.37). What message “cut” their hearts? It concludes in v. 36. Being moved emotionally, they asked, “What shall we do?” (v. 37).
The answer to the question “What shall we do?” is found in Acts 2.38. It harmonized with the message that Jesus commanded them to preach in the great commission (Matthew 28.19-20; Mark 16.16; Luke 24.47). If we read these passages, we will find this to be true.
That same answer should still be preached today to a person who wants God’s forgiveness. Otherwise, the message will be a lie! The person may believe the lie to be true, and as with Jacob, have an emotional reaction. However, a person's salvation is not dependent upon his or her emotions, but on the truth of the message he or she heard. Don’t trust your emotions until you have examined and compared the message you heard to the apostles’ message. Make sure the message you heard is true before you trust your feelings.
Once you are certain of the truth of the message, you need to respond as truth directs you. Those in Acts 2 were told by Peter to respond by repentance and baptism (v. 38). Those in that audience who “gladly received” Peter’s words did so (v. 41). If the message you heard was truth, you would have been given the same response that Peter gave to them. Were you? Make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1.10). Don’t trust your emotions as proof of your salvation. Base it upon the truthfulness of the message that was preached to you. Remember Jesus’ words: “He who rejects me and does not receive my savings has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12.48).