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A Matter of the Heart

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • March 18, In the year of our Lord, 2018


  1. The past two weeks I showed you
    1. that faith is not a feeling or a hunch, but
    2. it is accepting evidence for something,
      1. although you have not personally witnessed
      2. that person or event.

        18 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10.17).

        1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11.1).

        1. Faith means
          1. that you have heard and
          2. in this case, that you have heard God’s word, and
            1. you have concluded
            2. that He is credible.
        2. Faith accepts the evidence for things not seen.
  2. That certainly does not mean
    1. feelings and emotions do not have a place in Christianity.
    2. Truly, if we do not feel in the appropriate ways,
      1. something is wrong.
      2. We could lose our souls if we have no emotion.
  3. We do not establish our faith by our feelings, but
    1. our faith leads us to have strong feelings or emotions.
    2. Feelings cannot determine truth, but
      1. knowing the truth
      2. brings on the greatest feelings.
  4. Seeking to establish truth by our feelings
    1. can lead to spiritual disaster and
      1. what leads to spiritual disaster
      2. leads to disaster in the rest of our lives.
    2. In Deuteronomy 4, Moses warned Israel about this,

      19 “And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage” (Deuteronomy 4.19).

      1. So do not say something feels natural
      2. when it violates the word of God.
  5. First Samuel 13 shows that when Samuel confronted Saul
    1. for personally making a burnt offering
    2. rather than waiting for Samuel, as they had planned,
      1. Saul offered this lame excuse,

        11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering” (1 Samuel 13.11–12).
      2. His feelings violated the Lord’s will and
      3. he suffered badly for it, as the rest of the story shows.
  6. Unsurprisingly, the Bible declares,

    26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool…
    (Proverbs 28.26)
  7. Trust in the LORD with all your heart…
    (Proverbs 3.5)
  8. VIII.What does the Bible say about our feelings?


  1. Faith Leads to the Greatest Feelings
    1. If we conclude
      1. that God exists,
      2. we have discovered the greatest truth!
    2. Should that not bring out of us
      1. joy,
      2. rejoicing,
      3. gladness,
      4. happiness,
      5. celebration, and
      6. exhilaration?
    3. How can I contain my feelings for what I have discovered?
  2. He Went On His Way Rejoicing
    1. Whenever I think of emotions in Christianity,
      1. I think of the Ethiopian treasurer,
        1. who after he learned of the prophecy of Jesus in Isaiah 53 and
        2. then was baptized,
      2. the Bible says this about his reaction,

        39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8.39).

        1. What do you imagine that he did?
        2. If you had seen him just after his baptism,
          1. what do you think you would have seen him doing?
          2. Did he show any expression of joy?
    2. Since that Ethiopian Treasurer
      1. knew Jesus,
      2. was headed for heaven,
      3. was saved from hell,
        1. who would have faulted him,
          1. if he had tears in his eyes,
          2. if he sang a song,
          3. if he shouted Praise the Lord,
          4. if he…well, you name it?
        2. What if we saw him doing the same thing
          1. because he just got a promotion and a raise, or
          2. because he just welcomed his first child into the world, or
          3. because he discovered a wonderful woman he hoped to marry?
    3. If he had not gone on his way rejoicing,
      1. I would have thought that something was wrong.
      2. I would have concluded that he did not understand
        1. from what he had been saved and
        2. to what he had been saved.
  3. Love God with All Your Heart
    1. In Mark 12, the Bible shows a scribe asking Jesus
      1. about which commandment comes first.
      2. Notice how Jesus answered,
      3. especially as it pertains to loving God,

        28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12.28–30).

        1. I do not mean to equate love with a mere feeling, for
        2. loving with your mind shows the conscious decision to love God.
      4. Truly, though, we can and should have good feelings about our God,
        1. considering His love for us.
        2. How can I not be touched emotionally
          1. when I compare my sin
          2. with God’s goodness toward me?
    2. Christianity is intellectual, but
      1. it is not intellectual alone.
        1. Thomas à Kempis (14th century German) said,

          “If you knew the whole Bible by heart, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would all that profit you without the love of God, and without His grace? Vanity of vanities; all is vanity except to love God and to serve Him only.”
        2. Paul the apostle said,

          1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him (1 Corinthians 8.1–3).
      2. It is not like the scientist who
        1. examines something and
        2. discovers how a plant works, and
          1. that discovery brings him satisfaction, but
          2. does not move him to love with all his heart.
            1. For some people, that is how Christianity is.
            2. However, if you have faith as the Bible instructs,
              1. you will not only know what you need to know, but
              2. that knowledge will move you
                1. to love God,
                2. to love your neighbor, even
                3. to love your enemy.
    3. If you leave the heart out,
      1. what kind of love would that be?
      2. Do you want heartless love from your family?
        1. Heartless love is doing what should be done for another, but
        2. not really caring whether it helps them or not,
        3. not really caring for the person.
          1. Heart-felt love gives the love a person needs, and
          2. cares genuinely for the well-being of that person.
  4. Let Us Not Be Like Unbelievers
    1. Ephesians 4 shows how the Gentiles
      1. live without Christ,

        17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (Ephesians 4.17–19).
      2. Look at what surrounds people who are “past feeling.”
        1. They have futile minds.
        2. They have darkened their understanding.
        3. They have alienated themselves from the life of God.
        4. Ignorance dwells in them.
        5. They have blinded their hearts.
        6. They have given themselves over to lewdness.
        7. They work all uncleanness with greediness.
          1. They do not care about living as God directs.
          2. They do not care for all people.
          3. They gladly give themselves over to lewdness.
          4. They want to work all uncleanness.
          5. They are greedy, doing everything for themselves.
    2. Mark 7 shows Jesus accusing the Pharisees and scribes
      1. of having serious spiritual heart problems,

        6 “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

        ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
        But their heart is far from Me.’”
        (Mark 7.6)

      2. Do you want the people whom you love
        1. to say that they love you, but
        2. only to mean it with their lips?
          1. Or do you want them to say it with their hearts?
          2. What do we mean by that?
            1. We want some feeling behind the words.
            2. Likewise, the Lord wants us
              1. to put our feelings into our words
              2. when we say we honor Him.


  1. You know God is.
    1. You know what His word says.
    2. But do you love Him?
  2. Do you know that He loves you?
    1. How do you think you exist from moment to moment?
    2. And do you know what the story of Jesus of Nazareth says?