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Chapter 17 - Truth versus Feelings
There are many activities in which we engage that are rather mundane. We have to work to provide for food, clothing, and shelter. It is often tempting to segregate our thoughts into lofty ones about ideals, religion, or truth and more pragmatic thoughts about daily living. This is a common way we avoid applying truth to ourselves.
We might ambitiously contend for a promotion at work telling ourselves that the financial increase would be good for our family. However, we can fall into seeking that which appeals to the flesh by deceiving ourselves with noble justification. Work promotions can appeal to prestige, power, and the things more money can purchase. The deficit of increased time away from family and the values that imparts to oneís children are often minimized in oneís mind.
The decision to put oneís children in public school as opposed to the expense and effort of homeschooling can reflect a self-oriented priority similar to the decision not to have children at all. It can be difficult to consider truth if it suggests that we might be in error or have less than noble motives. Like the drunkard faced with the loss of alcohol or the addict facing withdrawal, the flesh is reluctant to allow anything that might threaten it.
There are two methods of transitioning from the flesh to the Spirit. The first is to slowly reflect on our motives and actions in light of truth. This usually results in a gradual letting go of the layers of self-serving motives we have accumulated in life.
The second method is a drastic one of mentally stripping away of every thought, value, and opinion as if we had died and stand naked before God. At this point we add on to ourselves that of which we feel the Lord would approve.
Both techniques represent 'dying' to self. The second method is not often selected but rather may be forced onto one by harsh circumstances.
Modern times have been designed to elevate the flesh through things like 'self-esteem', affirmations, 'positive thinking', and advertising. It has been said that stories are more powerful than facts because they touch the heart more than the mind. Our feelings serve a useful purpose when they allow us to enjoy life or even warn us when something is wrong. Feelings serve a malignant purpose when they lock us into a cycle of self-stimulation or motivate us to distort truth to sustain the comfort of delusion. For this reason feelings need to be subordinate to truth.
who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. - Psalm 15:1b-2
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. - Psalm 51:6
Truth can have an almost surgical effect on the fleshly inclinations of the heart.
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. - Proverbs 16:6
Selfishness leads to distortions of truth from which increasingly greater iniquities flow. The influence of others compounds the problems of our enslavement to the deceptions of the flesh.
Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD. - Jerimiah 9:4-6
The bible calls four things 'truth', the bible itself, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God. While the Holy Spirit leads us in truth, we have the opportunity to abide (live) in the words of God and receive a constant source of truth.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. - John 8:31-32
Jesus is called the 'word' of God and there is an element of vitality such that the 'living word' works inside of us.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. - Colossians 3:16
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. - Isaiah 55:10-11
Godís word is truth and it is alive and sent to work in us to accomplish what God wills. This work requires our active participation. One measure of the extent to which we have died to self is our interest in Godís word. If it is a chore to even read a sort passage in the bible, we may not have made much progress. If we get a concordance or use computer software like esword to dig into the bible to try to understand word studies or topics, it may reflect more progress Godís word has had working in us.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 199:105
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. - Psalm 119:9
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. - Psalm 119:133
Once Godís word (truth) enters in and works in transforming us, our feelings also transition from the sensual to the sublime.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. - Psalm 32:11
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