Putting Emotions in Their Place

The Gospel Restores Our Emotions

Emotions have been disrupted by sin, and so we stifle our feelings or seek emotional highs. But sin does not have the final say. The good news is: through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God erases the guilt of our rebellious emotions, empowers us to resist the temptation to sinful emotions, and enables us to express godly emotions (2 Cor. 5:17). By his grace, we can now receive strength and wisdom to deal with our messed up feelings, and Christ has promised to one day give us a glorified body that functions perfectly with our emotions (Phil. 3:21).

Jesus didn’t save us piecemeal or a la carte. He did not redeem our minds and wills only to leave our emotions to rot on the vine of our humanity. All of our faculties were equally corrupted by sin, but all of them are being equally restored, and Christ makes peace between our minds, wills, and emotions.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones exclaimed:

What a gospel! What a glorious message! It can satisfy man’s mind completely, it can move his heart entirely, and it can lead to wholehearted obedience in the realm of the will. That is the gospel. Christ has died that we might be complete men, not merely that parts of us may be saved; not that we might be lop-sided Christians, but that there may be a balanced finality about us. 1

Christ makes peace between our minds, wills, and emotions.

We need not resign ourselves to stifling or living for emotions. Instead, because Christ restores our emotions, they can work the way God always intended, in harmony with our other faculties. To become emotionally balanced we must guard against these two main errors.

On the one hand, we must not despise God’s good gift of emotions by stifling how we feel; we should receive his gift, make use of it, enjoy it, and explore all that he intends for it to get done in our lives. On the other hand, we must not favor or exalt our emotions. We must not live only to feel, but we should appreciate and apply our minds and wills in equal measure. As D.G. Benner writes, “Life gains an intensity and richness” when the emotions function in harmony with the other faculties.

True Feelings

Carolyn Mahaney, Nicole Mahaney Whitacre

A mother-daughter team offers women a fresh perspective on their emotions straight from God's Word, helping them handle their feelings in a way that honors God and others.

And so we can see that feelings are a good gift from God. But what good is a gift if you don’t know how it works? God didn’t give us emotions and say, “Have fun figuring them out on your own!” In his Word, he teaches us the marvelous function and purpose for our emotions.

1. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 60.

This article is adapted from True Feelings by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre.

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