Impressions and feelings are no sure evidence that a person is being led by the Lord. Satan will, if he is unsuspected, give feelings and impressions. These are not correct and safe guides. All should acquaint themselves thoroughly with the evidences of our faith, and the great study should be how they can adorn their profession, and bear fruit to the glory of God.
Job 22:21, 22, 29: Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee. Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart…. When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.
At times a deep sense of our unworthiness will send a thrill of terror through the soul; but this is no evidence that God has changed toward us, or we toward God. No effort should be made to rein the mind up to a certain intensity of emotion. We may not feel today the peace and joy which we felt yesterday; but we should by faith grasp the hand of Christ, and trust him as fully in the darkness as in the light.
Isaiah 30:15: Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.
Be not discouraged because your heart seems hard. Every obstacle, every internal foe, only increases your need of Christ. He came to take away the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. Look to him for special grace to overcome your peculiar faults. When assailed by temptation, steadfastly resist the evil promptings; say to your soul, “How can I dishonor my Redeemer? I have given myself to Christ; I cannot do the works of Satan.” Cry to the dear Saviour for help to sacrifice every idol, and to put away every darling sin. Let the eye of faith see Jesus standing before the Father’s throne, presenting his wounded hands as he pleads for you. Believe that strength comes to you through your precious Saviour.
Philippians 1:6: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
We are not to make our feelings a test by which to discern whether we are in or out of favor with God, whether they be what we consider encouraging or not. As soon as one begins to contemplate his feelings, he is on dangerous ground. If he feels joyous, he is confident that he is in a favorable condition; but when a change comes, as it will, for circumstances will be so arranged that feelings of depression will make the heart sad, then he will naturally be led to doubt that God has accepted him. It is not wisdom to look at the emotions, and try to test your spirituality by your feelings. Do not study yourself; look away from self to Jesus. While you acknowledge yourself as a sinner, yet you may appropriate Christ as your sin-pardoning Redeemer. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Satan will not be slow in presenting to the repentant soul suggestions and difficulties to weaken faith and destroy courage. He has manifold temptations that he can send trooping into the mind, one after another; but the Christian must not study his emotions, and give way to his feelings, or he will soon entertain the evil guest,—doubt,—and become entangled in the perplexities of despair. Expel the suggestions of the enemy by contemplating the matchless depth of your Saviour’s love.
Psalm 77:7-10: Will the Lord cast off forever? and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone forever? doth his promise fail forevermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.
Do not exalt your feelings or be swayed by them, whether they be good, bad, sad, or joyful…. We cannot be lifted up in thought, or know what it is to be the sons and daughters of God, unless we trust implicitly in the word of God; for Satan will ever be on the ground to dispute our claims. We must educate the soul to trust in God’s word with unwavering confidence. Let gratitude and thankfulness flow out of the heart, and cease to hurt the heart of Christ by doubting his love, which has been assured to us by most astounding evidences; for he so loved us as to give his own life for us, that we should not perish, but have everlasting life.
James 1:2-8, 25: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways…. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
It is no sign that Jesus has ceased to love us because we experience doubts and discouragements. Affliction comes to us in the providence of God in order that we may see that Christ is our helper, that in him is love and consolation. We may receive grace whereby we may be overcomers, and inherit the life that measures with the life of God. We must have an experience so that when affliction comes upon us, we shall not depart from our faith and choose fables.
Job 13:15: Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
We should grow daily in faith in order that we may grow up to the full measure of the spiritual stature of Christ Jesus. We should believe that God will answer our prayers, and not trust to feeling. We should say, My gloomy feelings are no evidence that God has not heard me. I do not want to give up on account of these sad emotions; for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The rainbow of promise encircles the throne of God. I come to the throne pointing to the sign of God’s faithfulness, and cherish the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. We are not to believe because we feel or see that God hears us. We are to trust to the promise of God. We are to go about our business, believing that God will do just what he has said he would do, and that the blessings we have prayed for will come to us when we most need them. Every petition enters into the heart of God when we come believing. We have not faith enough. We should look upon our Heavenly Father as more willing to help us than an earthly parent is to help his child.
Isaiah 55:6, 10, 11: Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near…. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it to 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.
When we go to Him for wisdom or grace, we are not to look to ourselves to see if he has given us a special feeling as an assurance that he has fulfilled his word. Feeling is no criterion. Great evils have resulted when Christians have followed feeling. Satan can give feelings and impressions, and those who take these as their guide will surely be led astray. How do I know that Jesus hears my prayer?—I know it by his promise. He says he will hear the needy when they cry unto him, and I believe his word. He has never said to the seed of Jacob, “Seek ye me in vain.”
Jeremiah 29:12, 13: Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
If we would develop a character which God can accept, we must form correct habits in our religious life. Daily prayer is as essential to growth in grace, and even to spiritual life itself, as is temporal food to physical well-being. We should accustom ourselves to often lift the thoughts to God in prayer. If the mind wanders, we must bring it back; by persevering effort, habit will finally make it easy. We cannot for one moment separate ourselves from Christ with safety. We may have his presence to attend us at every step, but only by observing the conditions which he himself has laid down.
Religion must be made the great business of life. Everything else should be held subordinate to this. All our power of soul, body, and spirit must be engaged in the Christian warfare. We must look to Christ for strength and grace, and we shall gain the victory as surely as Jesus died for us.
Philippians 4:6, 7: Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Satan is very ready to insinuate that prayer is a mere form, and avails us nothing. He cannot bear to have his powerful rival appealed to. At the sound of fervent prayer the hosts of darkness tremble. Fearing that their captive may escape, they form a wall around him, that Heaven’s light may not reach his soul. But if in his distress and helplessness the sinner looks to Jesus, pleading the merits of his blood, our compassionate Redeemer listens to the earnest, persevering prayer of faith, and sends to his deliverance a re-enforcement of angels that excel in strength. And when these angels, all-powerful, clothed with the armory of heaven, come to the help of the fainting, pursued soul, the angels of darkness fall back, well knowing that their battle is lost, and that one more soul is escaping from the power of their influence.
Psalm 20:1, 2, 6: The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion…. Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.
Pray in faith. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Prevailing prayer is the prayer of living faith; it takes God at his word, and claims his promises. Feeling has nothing to do with faith. When faith brings the blessing to your heart, and you rejoice in the blessing, then it is no more faith, but feeling. How strange it is that men will put confidence in the word of their fellow men, and yet find it so hard to exercise living faith in God! The promises are ample; why not accept them just as they read? “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
Let there be much praying done, and even with fasting, that not one shall move in darkness, but move in the light as God is in the light. We may look for anything now to break forth outside and within our ranks; and there are minds undisciplined by the grace of the Holy Spirit, that have not practised the words of Christ, and who do not understand the movings of the Spirit of God, who will follow a wrong course of action because they do not follow Jesus fully.
John 12:35: Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
Excitement will not avail to save any soul. To have faith in Christ, to become a child of God, it is not necessary to be stirred with powerful emotion. You are to come to Jesus just as you are, for you know it is the only right thing to do.
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.
Zechariah 4:6: Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
FAITH NOT FEELING: The feelings, whether encouraging or discouraging should not be made the test of the spiritual condition.
It is not a decided evidence that a man or a woman is a Christian because he manifests deep emotion when under exciting circumstances. He who is Christlike has a deep, determined, persevering element in his soul, and yet has a sense of his own weakness, and is not deceived and misled by the devil, and made to trust in himself. He has a knowledge of the word of God, and knows that he is safe only as he places his hand in the hand of Jesus Christ, and keeps firm hold upon him.
Romans 10:1, 2: Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
While many profess to be sons and daughters of God in practise they ignore the example of the works and words of Christ. “It is my privilege,” they plainly say by their actions, “to act myself, I should be perfectly miserable if I could not act myself.” This is the religion current with the world; but it does not bear the heavenly endorsement. It is a deception, a delusion. Persons may under certain influences of the moment, be full of ecstasies; for chords are touched whose vibrations are pleasing to the natural taste. But these persons will have to learn that this is not the religion of Jesus Christ. When the circumstances change which so elated them, the depression and want of stimulus is felt, as the drunkard feels the want of the stimulus of the intoxicating cup.
Exodus 12:38: And the mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
Numbers 11:4: And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat.
Nehemiah 13:3: Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
There is a class of people who are always ready to go off on some tangent, who want to catch up something strange and wonderful and new; but God would have all move calmly, considerately, choosing our words in harmony with the solid truth for this time, which requires to be presented to the mind as free from that which is emotional as possible, while still bearing the intensity and solemnity that it is proper it should bear. We must guard against creating extremes, guard against encouraging those who would either be in the fire or in the water.
Acts 17:20-23: For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which are there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ Hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription To the Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
We should study the Bible more that we may become familiar with the promises of God, then when Satan comes in, flooding the soul with his temptations, as he surely will, we may meet him with, “It is written.” We may be shut in by the promises of God, which will be as a wall of fire about us. We want to know how to exercise faith. Faith “is the gift of God,” but the power to exercise it is ours. If faith lies dormant, it is no advantage to us; but in exercise, it holds all blessings in its grasp. It is the hand by which the soul takes hold of the strength of the Infinite. It is the medium by which human hearts, renewed by the grace of Christ, are made to beat in harmony with the great Heart of love. Faith plants itself on the promises of God, and claims them as surety that he will do just as he said he would. Jesus comes to the sinful, helpless, needy soul, and says, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Believe; claim the promises, and praise God that you do receive the things you have asked of him, and when your need is greatest, you will experience his blessing and receive special help.
Isaiah 59:19, 21: So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him…. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever.
Many know so little of faith that when they have asked God for his help and blessing, they look to themselves to see if their prayer is answered; and if they have a happy flight of feeling, they are satisfied. This is not faith, but unbelief. We should trust God, whether we experience any change of feeling or not. We cannot expect to be very joyful and hopeful while we look to ourselves; for we must think of self as sinful. A large class of the professed Christian world are watching their feelings; but feeling is an unsafe guide, and those who depend upon it are in danger of imbibing heresy.
Hebrews 4:2: For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
As a faithful physician, the world’s Redeemer has his finger upon the pulse of the soul. He marks every beat; he takes note of every throb. Not an emotion thrills it; not a sorrow shades it; not a sin stains it; not a thought or purpose passes through it, with which he is not acquainted. Man was purchased at an infinite cost, and is loved with a devotion exceeding that which a father feels for his child. The prayer that comes from a sincere heart will ever find a response in heaven.
Hebrews 4:15: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
If there is anything in our world that should inspire enthusiasm, it is the cross of Calvary.
John 12:32: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.1White, Ellen G. Pamphlet 048: Living By Principle, E.G. White Estate.
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|1.||↑||White, Ellen G. Pamphlet 048: Living By Principle, E.G. White Estate.|