Emotions are a gift of God. We can feel Adam’s enthusiasm in his words upon first seeing Eve. Jesus himself expressed a complete range of feelings, from joy to exasperation.
Like all things human, emotions were also subjected to futility after the Fall, Romans 8.20. Satan uses our emotions to steer us away from God’s will. One of his best tactics is to stir up our feelings so that he can manipulate us.
When the Evil One manages to persuade us to live by our emotions, he knows the potential to harm us and keep us from God. How exactly does living by emotion harm us?
It keeps you from looking ahead
Feelings act on what is happening now. They focus on the present. The hope of eternal life, Titus 1.2, looks ahead to the coming of Christ. Like Abraham, we are “looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God” Hebrews 11.10. But life driven by emotion blocks out the future for the present experience, whether it be exciting or frightening, sad or glad. Gone is the perspective of future joy and justice.
It keeps you from self-control
Giving emotions control of our lives keeps us from living with self-control, which is a part of the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5.22-23. Living by emotion means letting circumstances and external forces control us, similar to what Paul mentioned to the Ephesians:
“So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes” Ephesians 4.14.
Something will control us; we have the choice as to whom we deliver up control of our lives, Romans 6.16.
It prevents you from acting rationally
Given rein, emotions short-circuit logical thought. Life by emotion crowds out the rational process. Jesus wants the mind to guide us; he wants us “thinking the way God thinks” Matthew 16.23 GW.
The emotional person is more easily manipulated by others. This is why the media appeals to one’s feelings and passions and seeks to stimulate the emotions, so that the user/viewer will do what the advertiser wants: buy their product. So the emotional person often lives in debt, burrows deeper into depression and unhappy feelings, always seeks new situations and relationships, and envies the person who lives on an even keel.
It throws you to extreme highs and lows
Some people like roller coasters, but constant dips, heights, and stomach-flipping rolls are a terrible way to live. Life by emotion upends the even keel, throwing you into driving storms one minute and ecstasies the next. The jagged edges of emotion keep you seeking the highs and dreading the lows.
Emotions do not reflect reality. Things may be going well, but you don’t feel it. Or you may feel great when disaster is occurring all around you. Emotions change often and rapidly. They are untrustworthy. Go with what you know, not what you feel.
It leads to bad decisions
Emotions are reactionary. They are not pro-active. They tend toward extremes. Cain’s misdirected anger led to murder, Genesis 4. Life by emotion leads to destruction. When faced with decisions and choices, it tends to go with the worst possible options.
It centers in self
Uncontrolled emotions reveal immature attitudes of the child. It is a repulsive thing to see in adults. Discipline is, in great part, the control of the emotions. The life led by emotion thinks first of self. It views everything through the filter of the ego.
Only the rational person is able to mentally separate self from events and the actions of others. The mind can suspend judgment, while feelings rush to unjustified conclusions.
It takes you directly into sin
Many sins that appear in the lists across the Bible are pure emotions, such as anger. You can be angry without sinning, Ephesians 4.26, but it often surfaces as the expression of a sinful impulse, so much so that James will say that “human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” James 1.20.
Conclusion: The train of faith
Emotions make for a great caboose on the train of faith. They are a lousy engine, because they lead you to a destructive wreck that will cost you eternity with God. Let the Lord lead your life through the renewal of the mind, Romans 12.1-2, and make emotions take their rightful place.