Walk by Faith not by Feeling 2 Cor 5: 7 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In giving counsel to folks, we often find that they are being led by feelings rather than by the facts of God’s words and faith in these words. But getting this point across can be a real challenge. Many years ago I saw an illustration of fact, faith and feeling that helps people see how feelings get them “off track.”
Imagine that you are looking at an old steam engine train. You see the engine, the coal car and the caboose. The engine is fact; the coal car is faith; and the caboose is feeling.
- Fact is what the Bible, God’s word, says.
- Faith is your belief of, trust in, and action upon what God said.
- Feeling is what you feel, whether your feelings are based on your faith in God’s words or whether they are a response to some other thought or circumstance in your life.
Which car pulls the train? The engine, of course. Which car gets the engine going? The coal car, of course. And which car is along for the ride? The caboose. So, when people hear the truth of the gospel [fact] and believe on Jesus Christ [faith], they will, generally, say that they feel [feeling] a great weight lifted off their shoulders. But what if they don’t feel saved? That doesn’t matter; the caboose does not pull the train. The converse is also true. If they feel saved but they have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, they are still lost. That’s a fact.
This illustration is fairly easy to understand, particularly as it relates to whether a person is saved. It can also be applied to Christians who, in certain areas of their lives, are led by their feelings, rather than by the fact of God’s words and faith in them. For them, the caboose is often pulling the train or, at the least, derailing the train. Fear, anger and the feeling of love are three feelings that really try to derail your train.
Here are some examples from the Bible to help you understand and apply this simple truth. You may see an area of your life in which your feelings are leading you and prevailing over the truth of God’s words. You find that you are living by feeling rather than by faith [2 Cor 5:7]. Here are three cases where men walked by feeling rather than by faith:
Elijah’s fear of Jezebel – 1 Ki 19:1-3 – Elijah was a great man of faith. He stopped the rain by prayer [1 Ki 17:1; Jas 5:17]. He believed the poor widow would always have enough to feed him [1 Ki 17:9] and she did. He raised her son from the dead [1 1 Ki 17:22-23]. He called down fire on the sacrifice at Carmel [1 Ki 18:36-38]. He slew the prophets of Baal [1 Ki 18:40]. He brought the rain again by prayer [1 Ki 18:44-45; Jas 5:18]. What faith; what power. But then, in a moment of weakness and exhaustion, he ran from Jezebel. He feared for his life. The caboose derailed his train. Fear is a bad caboose. You can feel: fear of perceived but unreal danger; fear of rejection; fear of ridicule; fear of failure. These derail faith. They ruined Saul. They affected Peter’s conduct with the Gentiles in Galatia.
Moses anger against Israel – Num 20:7-13 – Moses met God at the burning bush. He saw the signs God gave him for Israel to believe. He performed the plagues before Pharaoh. He parted the Red Sea. He received the manna. He brought forth the water out of the rock. He received the law from God. He had two fasts of 40 days with God. He led the children of Israel through the wilderness. And yet, in a moment of weakness, he disobeyed God and struck the rock twice. He did this because he was angry [Ps 106:32-33]. The caboose derailed his train. Anger is a bad caboose. It distorts the truth. Moses called them “rebels,” [v.10] when he was in rebellion.
Amnon’s love for Tamar – 2 Sam 13:1 – Amnon wasn’t particularly noted for his faith but he was a king’s son. He loved Tamar. The Bible didn’t say the he thought he loved her. He loved her. In a plot to have her, he violated the law of God, the fact of the words of God. He wasn’t supposed to have his sister and he wasn’t supposed to fornicate. His caboose derailed his train. After he had her, he hated her [1 Sam 13:15]. The process of hatred overshadowing love may not be instant. It may take several years, in fact. But it results from people getting into relationships based on their feelings rather than on faith in God. Feelings change, they are fickle. God’s word never changes. He gives you direction in relationships. That’s why we tell people to wait on God and follow his words. They must be certain of God’s leadership in their choice of a mate.
Conclusion: we have just looked at three feelings, fear, anger and love. They overshadowed faith. Each man affected walked by feeling rather than faith. To avoid getting derailed by your feelings, you must trust God, put your faith in his words, and let the feelings take care of themselves. They’ll wiggle behind you because they are fickle, but they won’t derail your train or pull it away from God. You are to walk by faith [2 Cor 5:7] not by your feelings.