Are there actual emotions that can keep us away from God? Let me be clear, emotions in and of themselves are not bad. As part of His creation, God made each and every one of us to experience a wide range of emotions and feelings. Us experiencing these emotions and feelings are exactly what make us human.
So again, while emotions aren’t necessarily a bad thing in and of themselves, the question still remains if there are emotions that exist that can actually keep us from experiencing the fullness of God and His purposes for our lives here on this earth. Speaking from that angle, I believe there are two primary emotions, or feelings, that can create distance between God and us. Not only have I seen these two emotions tear people apart and cause them to at best walk away from God’s purposes and at worst walk away from their faith altogether, but I have actually experienced these destructive emotions in my own life as well.
Maybe you can relate.
My goal in this blog isn’t to point out everything that you have wrong with your emotions. In fact, I want the exact opposite. What I desire to do is encourage you by hopefully helping you identify feelings and emotions that can keep you away from God and highlight the truth found in His word. Hopefully by taking a look in the emotional mirror and comparing that with God’s incredible love for us we will be able to draw closer to Him as we head into the Christmas season and into the new year.
The first emotion, or feeling (and I use both terms pretty interchangeably) that I have found can keep us away from God is the feeling of GUILT. You know the feeling. I know the feeling.
It’s that little thought in the back of our mind that gnaws at us. It’s that small voice that whispers to us and says words like….
“You’re not good enough.”
“You don’t measure up.”
“You’ve made too many mistakes today.”
“You didn’t handle that situation very well.”
“You haven’t made the best choices today.”
“Your performance doesn’t match up to your intentions.”
“I thought you were a Christian / Good Person.”
“How could God ever forgive you.”?
“If you really loved God / People than you wouldn’t have done that.”
See the pattern? When we experience the emotion of guilt we immediately put ourselves on a performance-based treadmill that God never intended us to be on. We begin to fall into the trap of thinking that somehow we can actually have a day where our actions can please God through our performance alone and somehow earn His approval. When we experience guilt, our emotions tell us that that we have fallen short of our own perceived standard and that there is now no hope of redemption for that day, week, month, or year.
The times in my life where I have enjoyed my walk with God the least have been when I felt guilt over choices I’ve made compared to my intentions. And during these times of guilt I find myself running away from God, not toward Him. I begin to reason that my surely my choices will cause God’s love for me to waver and that his care for my life will be less.
Maybe you have walked through the same thing.
So what does God have to say about the subject of guilt? Are there scriptures that talk about guilt and how God wants use this emotion to draw us closer to him? Is it God’s design to use the feeling of guilt in our lives to send us a message and to make us comply with His will and purposes?
For those feeling guilty right now, the answer to these questions may surprise you.
After searching and searching and searching, I couldn’t find one scripture where God uses the feelings of guilt to help us and make our lives better. Truthfully, the more I search the scriptures the more I find a God who covers our guilt and shame and sent his son, Jesus Christ, to be the substitute for His wrath so that we would never even have to feel the emotion of guilt. I find scriptures like:
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I don’t see one scripture where it states that God’s design is for us to feel the emotion of guilt. All I see is scriptures where God loves us unconditionally, covers our sins and mistakes, and offers to continually restore the broken parts of our lives. If, when it comes to our walk with God, we experience the performance-based emotion of guilt I can most assuredly tell you that it doesn’t come from God.
So does that mean that we can do anything we want to and God’s okay with it? Does that mean that God doesn’t have any standards and that we are now free to do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it guilt free?
Not at all!
This just means that we have to now to recognize God’s way of bringing correction and change into our lives. He doesn’t do it through guilt but actually does it through love and kindness.
Romans 2:4 – God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.
Hebrews 12:6 – God disciplines those that he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.
Job 5:17 – Blessed is the man who God corrects.
See the new pattern? Even when God corrects us, challenges us, and changes us he always does it from a standpoint of love and kindness! I don’t see any guilt involved, nor do a see an absence of standards. I strictly see a loving God who draws us in with love, corrects us with kindness, and considers us blessed because he cares enough to mature us.
Some of the closest times I have walked with God is through seasons of His correction. That doesn’t mean that these times necessarily always feel good but because God always approaches his correction with kindness these times still are good!
So today, I would ask you to do a mental inventory of your thoughts and emotions. Take a moment and look in the preverbal mirror of your life and ask yourself how much of your walk with God, or distance, is driven by guilt.
How much would your life change if you began to walk guilt free with God but still allowed for His kindness based correction in your life?
I would bet this new attitude would be a game changer.
And let’s not forget the second emotion that can keep us away from God. How about the emotion of FEAR? I’ve seen fear try to creep its way into my life and my faith so many times, all with negative consequences. I’ve found that there are numerous instances where fear tries to work its way into my relationship with God. Maybe you have experienced some moments of fear as well.
Fear of failure
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of surrender.
Fear of God’s leading.
Fear of opinions.
Fear of God’s plan.
Fear of trusting God.
Fear of God’s timing.
Fear of God’s purposes.
Fear of the future
Fear of the past
Fear of the hear and now.
All too often, I find myself in situations where I know what God wants me to do and I know his plans for me are good but I still experience the feeling of fear. Once I let fear set in, I begin to question and doubt the goodness of God and his provision for my life. Even though I know God’s goodness in my head, my heart and emotions don’t follow! I began to question whether He truly has my best interests at heart. I begin to wonder if God truly has “got me.”
Maybe you have experienced this level of fear before. Maybe you are experiencing it now. Maybe there is a situation in your life that you are dealing with currently that is causing a great amount of anxiety and fear. I want to encourage you with the simple truth that God is not the author of fear. In fact, His word is very clear on the matter.
2nd Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear but has given unto us a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind.
So if God has not given us a spirit of fear, why do I still fear? Why do I still have moments of fear and doubt that cripple my ability to walk in His plans and purposes for me? Why can’t I just snap my fingers and stop feeling the emotion of fear?
The answer is simple.
God uses the fearful situations in our lives as the backdrop to show us the He truly is greater, bigger, and more powerful than anything we could ever face.
The battle doesn’t lie in the situation. The battle lies in our mind. It lies in deciding what we are going to believe; God’s promises or our fear. The belief that wins is the one we will act on.
So let me ask you again to do a personal inventory of your emotions. How many times in a day, week, month, or year does fear stop you in your tracks? How many times do you listen to that voice of fear and follow it?
How many times do you do the safe thing?
How often do you shy away from God’s plans because you are fearful of the future?
Does the opinion of others keep you from acting on your God given destiny?
Do you think more in “what could go wrong” as opposed to “what could I accomplish?”
Have you purposefully held back when you know you are supposed to go forward?
If you’re anything like me, I have fallen trap to any number of these mindsets a number of times and still feel the temptation to follow them now. The only remedy I have found to squash this fear is to constantly shine the lights of God’s word on it. And honestly, with me doing that it still doesn’t mean the fear goes 100% away completely. There are still times I must make the choice to act with fear still in my heart. But it’s during those times when I also know I’ve beat it. I’ve won. I’ve conquered fear.
I know I’ve beat my fear if my actions go against what it urges me to do.
The same is true for you. Every single time you take an action that goes against what your fear tells you to and instead act on God’s promises for your life you gain a level of freedom in your life. Every step of freedom you take squashes the voice of fear. Eventually, over time, you will get to the point where fear doesn’t have any control over you at all.
All it takes is a small step.
And as I close, that is the biggest piece of encouragement I want to leave you with when it comes to the emotions of fear and guilt.
One Small Step.
One small step today will lead to a long journey of progress in the near future. One small step away from guilt and toward the loving kindness of God today looks like a joyful, fully free life tomorrow. One act that goes against the voice of fear in your life today looks like a courageous season tomorrow.
What small steps do you need to take today to beat guilt and fear? What misconceptions about God do you need to challenge in order to embrace God’s word and promises for your life?
God is for you, not against you.
Guilt and fear are not from Him.
My prayer is that you would find the courage and freedom to view yourself how God views you and embrace His destiny for your life.
You’re one small step away,