Overcoming feeling, overcoming by faith
For most people, feelings are the gauge of enjoying life and success. ‘I feel good, therefore all must be well’. Although this is very real, it is a fallacy! A person may feel good and yet have cancer, so that underneath all is not good. Alternatively, when people feel bad, physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, emotionally, they often judge the problem to be either with themselves, others or God. Too often this leads to foolish decisions and often stressed relationships.
So then, what does John the Apostle mean “ this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1John 5.4).
He described the world in chapter two as ‘ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life’ . These are not necessarily bad things, but they are human impulses without God. In the other chapters, he describes the world of error and deceit.
How then can we overcome that which is natural to us? ( It is natural for me to get depressed when things don’t turn out how I feel it should ). How can I see the correct perspective on the events of life? (It seems that logic leads to confused conclusions). How can I know what is right , what is truth in a mixed up world? (The Australian response is to become indifferent ).
The answer in our Bible text is FAITH.
Please let me qualify this word ‘faith’. Faith is not some warm feeling of confidence that all will work out in the end (that is fate...alistic). Faith is both a noun (a thing) and a verb ( an action). Faith must needs have an object i.e. to have faith in someone or something. Often in the New Testament faith is mentioned alone, with the object implied. For example, the Lord often responded to those blessed by His hand – “ great is you faith” –the object of the faith was Himself. And so it is with “overcoming faith” – it necessarily means we have faith in God revealed in His son Jesus Christ.
Let us put this into the context of 1 John. If I believe (have faith) in God at work through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, I am released from the feeling of guilt. The blood of Christ cleanses, and the promise of God to forgive sets me free from guilt and fear.
Chapter two considers the reality of Gods commands and our inability to perform. I might well have feelings of despair and inadequacy, but faith believes that sins are forgiven. I might well feel conquered by the evil one ( the pressures of evil about me ), but faith grasps the fact that I know the Father ( God who alone is wise). I may feel fruitless in the presence of much error and deceptive doctrines - Herein lies the overcoming victory – Faith to be strong in the Lord, filled with the word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit (not just any spirit) 2.14-20
Chapter three faces the daily reality of God in us expressed in practical ways.( In contrast to the many modern recipes for ‘fulfilment’). Paul the Apostle concurs with the teaching here – “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3), leading to an appreciation of the surpassing love of God, which will result in good doing (not just good feeling). Walking in love, or as John put it, love to others is about action, not just words. When we lay down our lives for others with the motive of love, ( faith in God’s love), we will not be self focused and feelings will become subservient to God’s love and God’s way. Chapter three concludes with the assurance to victory by His Spirit dwelling in us.
Chapter 4 highlights the problem of faith being assailed by other spirits. Spirits chiefly operate in the realm of error – teaching wrong. Primarily Satan is against God, but to do this he seeks to promote error about God and His Son Jesus Christ or Lord. He is very successful in this by promoting God as unfair and unjust. Often he promotes new standards of morality and encourages the unrestrained lustful person to feel good, no matter what God says.
This is the ultimate feel good/ feel bad rollercoaster , when faith in God’s standards, God’s sovereignty and God’s love is removed.
So what is the answer to overcoming ? FAITH in God, faith in God’s SON, faith in God’s word.
It will likely mean turning off the TV, choosing better books to read, keeping company with godly persons, spending much time alone with God and His word.
Warning – To just be myself is dangerous ( I have a fallen nature which leads to failure of pride). To go with the crowd is the happy road to destruction. I need to turn around and seek God.
Faith in Him is the victory that overcomes the world
Instead of using feelings as the compass of life, let faith in God and His word be your compass.