Biblical EQ

A Christian Handbook For Emotional Transformation



By John Edmiston


ISBN:  1-4196-4913-2


Ó Copyright, John Edmiston, 2001



Table Of Contents


How to Understand and Use This Book                                                                                 4


PART 1  Jesus As Our Model of How Our Emotions Work                                        5

Commencing the Journey                                                                                                           6

Common Questions About Emotions                                                                                      9

Can Jesus Be Our Model for Biblical EQ?                                                                               14

The Holy Spirit and the Emotional Life of Jesus                                                                 21

The Emotional Life of the Apostles, Prophets and                                                            30

Great Christian Leaders

The Emotional Life of Carnal Christians                                                                                  37


PART 2The Inner Self and Our Emotional World                                                        42

Perception                                                                                                                                         43

Perception In and By the Spirit                                                                                                  56

The Thoughts and Intentions of the Heart                                                                           73

The Learning Organization                                                                                                          84

Emotions and Our Physiology                                                                                                    92


PART 3Practical Techniques For Emotional Self-Mastery And Expression     104

The Masterful Mind                                                                                                                       105

Getting A Handle On Our Emotions                                                                                         118

Acting On and Reacting to Our Strong Emotions                                                              124

Recognizing and Understanding Emotions In Others                                                      133

The Appropriate Expression of Emotions                                                                             143

Love Is a Many Splendoured Thing                                                                                         149


Index                                                                                                                                                    159

Appendix 1 – Teacher’s Guide                                                                                                   164

Further References                                                                                                                        165

About the Author                                                                                                                            168




How to Understand and Use This Book


This is a Christian handbook on emotional transformation. Biblical EQ is about emotional competence, about being able to handle and discern emotions and express them wisely. The emphasis of the book is ongoing growth rather than healing. The book does not assume that the reader has emotional “problems” that need to be “fixed”.  This is not a book for people with high levels of emotional pain to read in order to get better – though it may achieve that. Biblical EQ is a fitness manual rather than a diagnostic manual. Its focus is strength, health and maturity.


The aim of this book is to equip Christians, especially those in the ministry, by putting them in touch with the basics of their emotional being, getting them to commit to become emotionally mature and Christ-like, and helping with the correction of areas of imbalance and immaturity. Our aim is to show them how to express emotions with clarity, integrity and sensitivity in the context they are in. That’s a lot for one book, so Biblical EQ starts with some solid foundations and builds upward. We are not tackling one emotion at a time but actually trying to rebuild the Christian’s entire understanding of the emotional life of the believer from the ground up.


The first section, Jesus As Our Model, deals with some of the basic overall biblical theology of emotions and is foundational to the rest of the book. It is written from an evangelical viewpoint and at a level that should suit most committed Christians. Its central premise is that Jesus Christ is the model for our emotional life and that the sanctification of our emotions is a work of grace involving the power of the Holy Spirit working in the committed Christian. It pictures the ideal Christian as having grand and powerful emotions that are holy and good and which are wisely and appropriately expressed in God’s timing for His glory.


The second section, The Inner Self and Our Emotional World, is the part of the book that perhaps has the most new teaching for many readers. It spends a lot of time looking at how emotions arise in our spirit, in our soul and from our body and how these complex interactions create our emotions and our character. It draws together many counseling techniques and Scriptural insights. It should lead the reader to a deep understanding of self and of how others arrive at the place they are emotionally. It is founded on a very literal and exhaustive treatment of the Scriptures and tries to work from the biblical data and carefully build an adequate understanding of the human person. Its central premise is that our inner self is not constant and fixed but is “being renewed day by day” and that we can be co-workers with God in this process of inner renewal.


The practical section is grounded in Proverbs-like general wisdom and common sense.  Much will be familiar territory to some readers, however it is useful to “be stirred up by way of reminder”.  It deals with our experience of self-mastery, emotions and issues of emotional regulation, how we can read other people’s emotions and how to express those emotions appropriately in love. It also deals with how to tap into God’s love so we can minister to others. Its central premise is that God links to us through faith, which works through love, that employs specific focused wisdom and knowledge to do good deeds. On our side of the equation we facilitate this process by fixing our minds firmly on Christ and mastering our personal responses.


This book tries to give you both the relationship aspects and the specific focused wisdom and knowledge aspects of biblical EQ. References for further reading, a teachers guide and an exhaustive index has been provided for those who want to dip into the book to research a particular issue.  A seminar manual is also available as a separate publication.





This first section of the book sets the biblical basis in place. It looks at the emotional life of Jesus and then develops a model for how our emotions work, and how they can be redeemed, so that they end up mirroring the emotional life of Jesus Christ. The change needs a change agent and we look at how the Holy Spirit was behind the emotions of Jesus and how co-operating with Him is a large part of the secret of emotional development. First, we shall look at some common questions about emotions and establish whether or not we should bother about them. Then we shall investigate whether or not we can use Jesus as the model for the emotional life of the Christian. Having established that, we will move on to see how the Holy Spirit empowered His emotional life. At this point a five step model will be put forward for how godly and holy emotions arise. We shall then test this model by seeing if it predicts the results of the emotional life of the apostles, prophets and great Christian leaders. Then we shall test it again to see if it has a kind of “negative prediction” of how the emotional life of carnal Christians will turn out. By the end of this section the importance of the Holy Spirit in the emotional life of the believer will be firmly established. We will have then a biblically based and well tested model of the emotional life, that we will investigate more deeply in the second section of this book.


Commencing the Journey


Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NKJV)


Good emotional management is a highly needed commodity in Christian work. Without it we can unintentionally make a complete mess out of our service for God. One emotional explosion at the wrong moment can be held against us for a long time to come and we are often judged by others on how we handle our emotions. Many very productive Christian workers have had to leave the ministry because they just could not manage their emotions well and this marred all their relationships. So we need to do something – but what can we do? The good secular materials available do not draw on the resources that the Holy Spirit can bring to emotional transformation and few good Christian resources exist that combine biblical insights with good clinical data. This book is an attempt to do that.


In order to do this I have had to start with first principles and work out a biblical paradigm with Jesus at its center and the emotional life of Jesus as our model. The Holy Spirit is seen as the main power behind emotional transformation. Also tips and techniques from secular authors as well as their data has been incorporated where this material is “Christian-compatible” so to speak. So this book is divided into three sections, the biblical basics, discussion of the inner self and our emotions, and practical tips on self-mastery and emotional expression. Each of these sections have five or six chapters. The biblical section discusses some foundational teaching about the Christian emotional life. The “inner self” section looks at how emotions arise in our spirit and soul and are influenced by our body, and how our inner emotional life is formed. Finally, the practical section looks at our experience and understanding of emotions and how they should be best expressed.


What is EQ?

Emotional intelligence is the term we use to describe a complex set of human abilities related to emotional management. The four key aspects of emotional intelligence as described by Mayer and Salovey (the pioneer researchers in the area) are:

1. Emotional identification, perception and expression

2. Emotional facilitation of thought

3. Emotional understanding

4. Emotional management

Various other researchers, most notably Daniel Goleman, have broken these into various sub-factors which are continually being reviewed. Recent findings in neurology have contributed greatly to our understanding of where emotions arise in the brain. The field is fluid and a final decision on what finally constitutes EQ has not been entirely reached yet and there are two or three main schools of thought. However, much is coming out of these studies that are very interesting from a Christian perspective, as we shall see in this study.


What Is Biblical EQ?

This is the biblical perspective on the above four key skill areas. It doesn't neglect the findings of neuroscience but it adds in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of Proverbs. It has as its model the emotional life of Jesus Christ with His personal presence, self-control, emotional expressiveness and discernment of situations. Thus it has a clear pattern, a master plan that can be used to analyse theories and to determine what is true and false, wise and unwise. Secular theories have no "ideal person" to point to - they merely assemble ideals from their own theories and worldview. In Jesus we have a model, a guide, a point to aim our teaching towards and this is invaluable.

The Christian believer is to aspire to have the emotional life of Christ Jesus for that is very much part of being "in His image". Above all Biblical EQ is biblical - founded on faith in the inspired, inerrant and authoritative Scriptures.


The Failure Of The Secular Models of EQ

After reading various EQ books you know that emotions are important, that you should handle them better and a lot about how they arose within you, but you are not shown how to conquer them. In fact many of the EQ programs based on this kind of research have had fairly middling results. The corporate sector is pulling back from them, partly because of recession but partly because they are not delivering as expected. Why is this so? Why has the secular approach to emotional intelligence fizzled?


First, they have a philosophical underpinning that has no definite direction. There is nothing intrinsic to the theory that tells them what to aim for when helping a person achieve a higher level of emotional intelligence. Apart from being in touch with ones emotions and being able to express them accurately, appropriately and responsibly there is no “big picture” of what the emotionally intelligent person should be like.


People end up confused and perplexed. Theories seem at variance with each other and the result is that some practitioners are almost Zen Buddhists while others are extremely businesslike, manipulative and pragmatic. Without any agreement on what an ideal person is they cannot make much real progress.


Second, much of the work of Goleman and others involves a model steeped in a medical and neurological framework that sees our responses as entirely conditioned by biology, genetics and environment. Alteration of responses is through medication, education and behavior modification. After a while people start to feel depersonalized by this approach, and react against the diminution of human responsibility that seems to be the outcome. It is so reductionistic and materialistic that after some initial enthusiasm people are repelled.


Third, prayer and spiritual disciplines are marginalized in the literature despite their utility. For instance on page 75 of Goleman's first book, Emotional Intelligence,  he says, "Finally, at least some people are able to find relief from their melancholy in turning to a transcendent power. Tice (a researcher into depression) told me "Praying, if you are very religious, works for all moods, especially depression". Despite this obvious therapeutic value for prayer it is never again referred to in Goleman's book. People know religion works - they are just refusing to admit it much in print.


Should we then throw out their work entirely? Not at all. Truth is truth and measurements are measurements. There is an enormous amount of good work and wise information in the current EQ literature. It can be, and is, very helpful in giving us understanding of how our emotions work. However, it does not give us a whole lot of power to transform them. The power to defeat deep and difficult emotions comes from God and involves the human spirit coming into contact with God's Spirit. So in this book we shall tend to turn to secular sources to explain much of the physiology and the mechanisms of emotion and to Christian sources for the power to deal with them.


Core Concepts

To get answers that genuinely help people we need two things, a clear destination, and the power to get there in a reasonable amount of time. Our destination is the image of Christ Jesus. Our power to get there is the infilling with and transforming work of the Holy Spirit. These are just some of the great advantages of the gospel. We have hope, and we have lots of hope!


Thus the central premise of the book is that Christians can have their emotional life redeemed so that it is transformed to mirror the emotional life of Jesus Christ and that the Holy Spirit’s power and grace are the key to this process. This involves renewing seven key aspects which will be discussed in detail as we move along:

1.        Renewing our basic perceptions of reality and our perspective on life.

2.       Renewing our individual belief system.

3.       Renewing the purposes and intents of our heart.

4.      Renewing our physical bodies and their influence on our emotions.

5.       Renewing our ability to be aware of and to understand our own emotions.

6.      Renewing our ability to understand the emotions of other people.

7.       Renewing our ability to appropriately express emotion according to the desire of the Holy Spirit.


The first few of these are a very deep work. It takes effort, courage and time to change one’s perspective on life or to review and change core beliefs, thoughts and intentions. However, unless this is done the foundations are not strong and any positive emotional changes will be temporary at best. Thus it is important that you work through the foundational chapters and understand them. They are the chapters which will give you the deepest wisdom to assist you with your emotional growth. Before we go much further we need to answer a few of the common questions about emotions and that is the topic of the next chapter.


Discussion Questions


1.         What do you want out of this book?


2.        Are you prepared to change?


3.        How can we combine secular insights with biblical insights?


4.        What are some of the reasons that the secular models of EQ have not got the results that everyone hoped they would?


5.        What advantages does the revelation of Scripture give us?


6.       What advantages do we obtain from having Jesus as our model?

Common Questions About Emotions


A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back. (Proverbs 29:11 NKJV)


What Kind of Emotions Should Christians Have?

While God is emotional there are some emotions that God never has. God is never envious, lustful, greedy, bitter with selfish ambition, small-minded, or petty. Neither is he anxious or fretful but dwells in perfect peace. His emotions are positive, holy, noble and appropriate. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Since we are called to be “in the image of God”, then whatever else that means, it means that at the end of our Christian maturity, our emotions should in some measure share these divine qualities. We should be “walking in the light”.


Thus godliness means forsaking some emotions and embracing others. We should be utterly free from unholy and fleshly emotions and moving toward mature and holy emotional responses.  The mature saint of God is filled with love and utterly free from bitter envy and selfish ambition. (James 3:15-18). Petty covetous worldly longings are replaced by the love of the Father (1 John 2:15-17) and perfect love casts out fear so that we dwell in quietness, peace and confidence (1 John 4:18; Isaiah 26:3). Holy people do not easily fly into rages or engage in back-biting and quarrelling, rather they are centered people full of love, joy and peace (Galatians 5:19-23). There is thus a grand and holy emotional authenticity that accompanies maturity in Christ.


Generally speaking, our emotions can be broken down into three classes:

Holy Emotions – those experienced by God such as compassion, joy, and holy indignation and those that accompany life in the Spirit such as praise, worship and adoration. These emotions are derived from the kingdom of light and the Sprit (Ephesians 5:18-21; Colossians 3:16-17; Galatians 5:22,23) and are  in agreement with true wisdom (James 3:17,18) They are the emotions of Christ in us. They are not necessarily religious or pious emotions. Admiring a flower or delighting in beautiful music or focusing on the beautiful and the good can be just as holy as going to church (Philippians 4:8).

Human Emotions
– based in our human situation and the created order and shared by Jesus during His time on earth. This includes emotions such as grief, pain, fear, abandonment, sadness and sorrow, anxiety, stress, anguish and vulnerability.  These emotions are well chronicled in the Psalms. For the Christian they are temporary and in eternity there shall be no more crying or sadness or pain (Revelation 21:4). While these emotions may feel bad they are not evil or toxic. They can be painful but they are not poisonous.

Fleshly Emotions – are poisonous and destructive and include toxic emotions such as malice, envy, selfish ambition, sensuality, bitterness, overpowering lusts and murderous hatred. They are closely tied to the works of the flesh and with evil deeds. Their outcome is spiritual death. These emotions were not part of mankind at Creation and are not “natural human reactions” (For instance grief is a natural human reaction but bitterness is fleshly. One can have “good grief” without a trace of bitterness. Bitterness is not natural to the human condition.) Rather these emotions are derived from the kingdom of darkness and have their source in a dark wisdom (James 3:14-16).


This classification helps us see the relative value of our emotional responses and to use the techniques described in the succeeding chapters to assist with our sanctification. It also puts the lie to the old humanist rubric “there are no right or wrong emotions.”  All emotions are not equal. Some are of much higher value than others and some emotions and impulses are positively wrong. This classification also goes a bit beyond the black and white classification of emotions as “spiritual” or “unspiritual” that causes so much pain in traditional missionary circles. When pain and disappointment are seen as “unspiritual” we simply add to the burden the person is carrying. Hurt, disappointment, pain and frustration are valid human emotions stemming from our creatureliness encountering a fallen world. Human beings were created good but mortal and it is as we explore this mortality that we find out many useful things about ourselves. The above simple classification also saves us from the error of stopping there with our human emotions and being content simply to explore ourselves at that level. It tells us there is something higher, something beyond our mortality and that it is as we focus on our immortality in Christ that we develop the highest and noblest parts of our being.


We are thus called to participate in the holy emotions so that they transcend the human emotions and overcome the fleshly emotions. By this I mean that we must choose our emotional level and which emotions we will be gripped by. When disappointment strikes we can choose to respond with holy emotions and pray through until we trust God and can praise Him as the Psalmist did or we can respond at the human level and sit down disconsolate in human misery and gradually see it through or we can respond from fleshly emotions and lash out in anger, bitterness, distrust and revenge. Consider Paul in jail in Philippi in Acts 16. He praised God, sang psalms and rejoiced thus transcending the human emotions of pain and discomfort and effectively banishing any fleshly emotions such as bitterness or desire for revenge. Thus Paul participated in holy emotions so that they transcended the human emotions and overcame the fleshly emotions. The human emotions are not denied or seen as wrong rather they are acknowledged but not focused on. They are transcended. The saint focuses on and deliberately chooses to move toward the holy emotions. Prayer, fasting, praise and worship, reading Scripture, meditating on good teaching and doing good works are all helpful in this process. However above and beyond these things we need the work of the Holy Spirit.


The Holy Spirit responds differently to each of these three categories of emotion. The Holy Spirit rejoices and assists us when we engage in holy responses. He produces them within us so they can justly be called “the fruit of the Spirit” (Romans chapters 8 & 12, and Galatians 5). On the other hand the Holy Spirit comforts us when the human emotions, such as grief, overwhelm us (see 2 Corinthians 1). Finally He is determined to break the grip of fleshly emotions such as hatred, lust and revenge. In fact the Spirit wars against such impulses so that we cannot fully give way to our worst desires (Galatians 5:16-18). Thus the Holy Spirit produces holy emotions, comforts overwhelming human emotions and wars against fleshly emotions. However, we have a choice in the matter. We can heed the Spirit’s promptings or we can discard them in fleshly rebellion. This leads Paul to say that the mind set on the flesh and its fractious emotions “is death” but the mind set on the Spirit with His holy emotions is “life and peace” (Romans 8:5,6).


As we will see in other chapters, the Spirit renews the mind with its personal perspective and belief structure. The renewed mind becomes centered on God and can be validly called “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). Thus as the mind is redeemed, renewed set on the Spirit, life and peace result. This life and peace that results from a well disciplined and renewed mind is the aim of this book. This simple classification of emotions will be vastly expanded as the complexities and subtleties of the emotional life of the Christian life are explored. Our emotions need redemption if they are to become holy and the focus of all redemption is Jesus Christ who will be our model and pattern for biblical EQ.


Why Do Christians Seem To Stop Changing Emotionally After Few Years?

Massive early transformation followed by accommodation to religious sub-cultural norms is a fairly common pattern among Christians from an emotionally damaged childhood. Church life provides many little nooks and crannies where we can hide from the Holy Spirit and the hard work of emotional transformation. In many cases painful emotions are not understood by the clergy and even by some Christian counselors and damage is done. This book will seek to bring wisdom and balance to the Christian handling of emotions. However all is not the fault of the clergy, church culture or inadequate theological and counseling training. Much is our own fault. Each of us has defense mechanisms against change such as rationalization, projection, and denial. We avoid dealing with God and with change.


I believe one of the greatest obstacles to emotional health in Christian circles is that we simply don't understand our emotions or we lack proper mechanisms for dealing with them. Many Christians are ignorant of Scriptural teaching on emotional life and so are left stranded with a few basic techniques that barely scratch the surface of the problem. In a puzzling, almost paradoxical way,  we also take our emotions too seriously and make them the source of our spiritual self-esteem. When we feel holy and good and positive we judge ourselves as being "up" spiritually and when we are feeling distant or depressed we judge ourselves as being "down" spiritually.  In fact the connection between emotions and spirituality is fairly loose. Some very happy optimistic people are carnal and worldly, while some serious gloomy types are deeply spiritual - and the reverse applies as well. While it is certainly preferable to feel good and to "rejoice in the

Lord always" even the apostle Paul admits to times of intense pressure and discouragement. We see this particularly in his letters to the Corinthians. And, of course, Jesus was known as "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief...". Even tempting emotions need not be sinful. Jesus was "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin". Yet there is indeed a deep connection between our emotions and our character.


Are Emotions  Important? Do They Build Christian Character And Ethics?

The common observation of philosophers and theologians as diverse as Aristotle and C.S. Lewis has been that right affections and emotions form the basis for right morality. If we love the good and abhor the evil we are far more likely to be good. And if we hate bribes and value integrity we are far more likely to be honest.


Ethics is not a purely intellectual exercise. From antiquity it has involved feeling, thinking and acting rightly. True agape love has emotions that are ethical. “Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth”(1 Corinthians 13:6). Being horrified by certain sins is a good and moral thing. Rejoicing in the truth is a right emotional response for the disciple. Our emotional valuation of life should be in agreement with our ethical stance. In biblical terms the person who is right emotionally loves good and hates evil. In their emotions they value what God values. The emotionally perfected Christian is not just “together” or integrated in the secular sense rather they are righteous, just, holy and perfectly loving. Their emotions agree with their ethics which agree with the Scriptures which agree with God.


What we like and dislike gradually shapes the course of our life and character.  This is why TV and advertising can have such a profound effect. It teaches us to like a certain lifestyle filled with material things and to value being sexy and attractive. It teaches us, ever so gradually, not to dislike fornication and adultery. Rarely does it blatantly say “adultery is good” – it just teaches people to like the idea of being attractive to many people and to being quietly thrilled by the notion of perhaps having many sexual partners. Thus, over time their ethical resolve is weakened, the emotions that drive holiness are eroded and thousands of Christians fall into sin they would not have contemplated a few years ago. What we like and dislike, what we value and esteem, is critical to what we will eventually become.


Unfortunately we have divorced emotions from ethics. We see ethics as “our opinion” about things not  our reaction to things. At times we even train ourselves to think one way and feel another. We ask people to be righteous and biblical yet feel embarrassed at our fellow Christian who get genuinely angry over sin and moral decay. By doing this we say it’s alright to just have notions not emotions. That Christianity is best kept in the head not in the heart. Then we wonder why they do not give and why they do not commit to discipleship! We teach Christian young people to be sexy, sophisticated and emotionally unshockable, then expect them to value chastity. We are asking the impossible.


Our emotions reflect what we value and cherish, admire and love and they also reflect what we dislike, loath and reject. Our emotions undergird our choices and our choices form the foundations for our character and destiny. If our emotions are askew our choices and destiny will surely follow suite. During my university years I often tutored high school students in calculus. The biggest obstacle was nearly always emotional rather than intellectual. It was moving the student past emotional valuations such as “I hate math” and “homework is horrible”. Because they had been taught by parents and peers that mathematics was odious and loathsome and homework was dull they were not doing their work. Because they were not doing their work they were failing mathematics. If they failed mathematics they would not get into university in Australia or into a decent career. Their emotional attitude, learned from others, was affecting their entire future.


The ability to delay gratification is fundamental to the development of good character. An experiment was set up where small children were given a choice: one marshmallow now, or two in ten minutes time. To get two marshmallows they had to delay gratification - a basic skill in managing and discipling their emotions. When the children were then followed up in a longitudinal study the difference between the “grabbers” and the “patient” was incredible. The most impatient and impulsive achieved less and got into trouble more while the most patient were more successful in practically every sphere of life. In fact this test proved more predictive of success at school and in life than IQ tests or any other social variable. This simple act of emotional management was a key to later success in life.


Thus right emotions are an important part of right character and right ethics and right emotions undergird right choices and right destiny. To emotionally rejoice in truth, to celebrate justice, to delight in noble actions and to embrace compassion and mercy is to have emotions that complement our faith. On the other hand confused emotions can destabilize us and create conflicts. Finally, the presence of strong lustful and evil emotions can drive us to sin and blind us to truth.  Thus sorting ourselves out emotionally is much more than just getting our act together. It is getting our heart in line with our faith and with our God.


But which way is up? How can we know which emotions are right, which are wrong and which are neutral? How can we get an idea of what an emotionally healthy and righteous and holy Christian looks like? As in everything, Jesus is our model and that is the subject of the next chapter.


Discussion Questions


1.         What have you learned from this chapter?


2.        What are the differences between holy emotions, human emotions and fleshly emotions?


3.        How do emotions fit into the Christian life?


4.        What would the Christian life be like without emotions?


5.        Are people in your church generally threatened by emotional change or generally comfortable with emotional change?


6.       Are extroverts more spiritual than introverts, or vice versa or does it matter?

Can Jesus Be Our Model For Biblical EQ?


Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)


It is one of the key teachings of Christianity that our Master and Model is Jesus Christ and we are to be conformed into His image and be like Him in all respects. Let’s look at two well-known verses in this regard:


(Romans 8:29 NASB)  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.


(Ephesians 4:15 NASB) But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.


God's plan for our lives is that we become conformed to the image of  His Son. Now to "grow up in all aspects into Him" includes the emotional aspects of the nature of Jesus Christ. Becoming emotionally mature and skilled is part of our sanctification - but it is only a part. There are many other aspects of sanctification as well such as faith, knowledge and purity. Growing up emotionally is important and it’s the part of sanctification that this book focuses on but Biblical EQ is certainly not all there is to sanctification.


Is Jesus Christ an Appropriate Model for Emotional Maturity?

There are a number of objections that people might think of  against using Jesus Christ as our Model of  EQ:


1.        The standard is too high. The idea is terrifying. It gives me a panic attack to think of it. I can never be like that.

2.       He was God and sinless; I'm neither. He had an unfair advantage. What's possible for Him is just not possible for me.

3.       There isn't enough information in Scripture to make a judgment. It’s an argument from silence. You can just make Jesus into whatever you want Him be to suit your purposes.

4.      He was Jewish and lived in the Third World 2000 years ago and just ambled around the place healing lepers. What would He know about the pressures of corporate life and the emotional jungle that my office is? (I'm a woman, He was a man and totally different emotionally. It’s just silly to ask me to be like Jesus.)

5.       Jesus was a prophet and had the emotions of a prophet. I could never be that confrontational - its not my spiritual gift.

6.      Jesus? High EQ? Kind of lacking in social skills if you ask me! I'm much more tactful and artful that that. Don't ask me to act in ways that get you nailed to a lump of wood.


Well let’s look at some ways we can answer those objections and the assumptions that underlie them.


Objection 1: The Standard Is Too High

Solution: Jumping Off Jacob's Ladder - Getting Rid Of Legalism Over Emotions


Many evangelicals have a "Jacob's Ladder" view of the spiritual life with Jesus at the top, host of angels in-between and Christians climbing up rung by painful rung. The idea is to ascend to perfection – to strive to arrive. One slip and you tumble to the bottom to start all over again. Those that adhere to this view of spirituality are always envying those ahead of them, clinging on to the ladder for dear life, and not having too much to do with those “below” lest they get dragged down.


This view of the Christian life is thoroughly unbiblical. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that all those who are in Christ are already seated with Him in heavenly realms and Hebrews 12 tells us that we  have come (past tense) to the Heavenly Zion. In Christ we have already arrived in terms of spiritual status. There is no ladder and if there is all born-again Christians are standing shoulder to shoulder on the top rung as brothers of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:10-15).  We have been saved by grace and not by our own spiritual strivings (Ephesians 2:8-10) and there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) including condemnation about our emotional life.


Aspiring to be like Jesus is not a matter of status or spiritual ascent. It’s a journey, a destination, a joyous arriving. He is what we were made to be like from all eternity. If we view our emotional life as an indicator of spiritual status then it will be utterly terrifying to think of Jesus as our model. Every emotional insecurity will seem a "sin" and every lustful thought a pathway to Hell. If we judge ourselves and rate our spiritual life by the difference between our emotional life and the emotional life of Christ, by how far we have yet to go on our imaginary Jacob's ladder, then all we will feel is endless guilt and insecurity. By trying to go up, you will go under.


If you recognize yourself as being on an imaginary Jacob's Ladder, it’s time to "jump off". You need to let go of striving and relentless self-assessment, and stop comparing yourself to those around you. Let go of the strain of sanctification go and to instead to learn how to receive grace so that you grow far more quickly than you can in your own strength.


When I am saying "let’s consider Jesus as our model for the emotional life of the Christian" I am NOT setting a new standard to be "lived up to" by discipline and self-control. Your discipline and self-control will run out long before you reach that standard! Being like Jesus is our vision and our destination. We fix our eyes on Jesus, we seek to grow up into Him, and we pattern ourselves after Him. It becomes an exploration and an adventure, a time of growing and learning, a receiving of grace upon grace as we learn to be like Him. It is a gracious growing - not a terrifying ascent.


Objection 2 - He was God and that's cheating!

Solution: He was also fully human. Jesus was the prototype of the perfect Christian, the elder brother among many brethren. We are of the same kind as Him.


Jesus was not some aloof divine maharaja floating six inches above the ground, another category of being entirely from you and I. Jesus is God yet He was also fully human and tempted in every point as we are and still retains that humanity in Heaven as our faithful high priest.

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. (11) For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, (12) saying, "I WILL PROCLAIM THY NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING THY  PRAISE." (13) And again, "I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM." And again, "BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME." (14) Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; (15) and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (16) For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. (17) Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (18) For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.  (Hebrews 2:10-18 NASB)

This passage and others like it in Hebrews (4:14-16; 5:7-10) emphasize that life or Jesus was difficult. It was so difficult that it was quite rightly described as suffering and had all the emotional hallmarks of suffering. It was no light suffering for it was to have the effect of perfecting Him! It was a suffering that matured His obedience by testing it under very stressful conditions. As we shall see, Jesus was pressed again and again to almost breaking point but He never sinned. Though He was God He laid aside those privileges (Philippians 2:5-11) to become fully human and a servant and was "made like His brethren in all things that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest".


He was made like us in our experiences of hunger, thirst, tiredness, frustration, misunderstanding, betrayal and even of unjust treatment by others. Even a cursory reading of the gospels will tell you that He did not just cruise through these experiences. He wept, He rebuked, He cried out, He rejoiced, He got angry, He became "troubled in spirit", He groaned in anguish and sweated drops of blood. Life for Jesus was difficult and it was often emotionally intense. This has made Him merciful in His role as high priest for He has fully been where we are.


In fact the reason we can be like Jesus is because He became very much like us. In fact He calls us “brethren”(Hebrew 2:11) which means that we are enough like Him to be considered family and to bear a close “genetic relationship” that has some sort of equality about it. The Scripture also say that we share the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus, and are members of Heavenly Zion (Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 12:22-24). Therefore, we are literally “in the same realm” as Christ Jesus. Romans 8:29 tells us that we will be conformed to His image almost like someone pressed into a mould. Our shape will be the same as His shape. We will be like Him. There will be a resemblance. We can resemble Him because he chose to resemble us. Finally Ephesians 4:15, which I quote often in this book ,says we are to be made like Him “in all respects”.  That’s a very close likeness.


To illustrate this with a touch of humor- imagine I was to compare a trout with a horse using these same criteria. Can a trout occupy the same realm as a horse? No, a trout swims in the river and a horse gallops on land. Can a trout be called a brother of a horse in any genetic likeness? Not at all! Can a trout be made into the image of a horse or expect to be made like a horse in all things? It’s ridiculous. In order to occupy the same realms, be brothers and be able to be transformed into the image of Christ Jesus, we must be very much LIKE Jesus. In fact we are like Jesus because we are fully human and He became fully human. He became like us so that we could become like Him. Jesus took on our emotional life so that it may be redeemed and become like His emotional life.


Finally we share a common destiny with Jesus Christ and a common home.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. (2) In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (4) And where I go you know, and the way you know. (John 14:1-4 NKJV) 

"That where I am you may be also". This is not just the offer of streets of gold. It’s the offer of an elder brother to His younger brethren. It’s fellowship, it’s love and it’s family. We shall be enough like Jesus to be considered family. He as the Son of God and we as sons of God. When we are made in all aspects like Him and conformed to His image we will share His habitations and have meaningful fellowship with our Lord and God. Going back to the trout and horse illustration, there is no possibility of meaningful fellowship there. It is only in likeness and communication that there can be fellowship with God. Jesus is not alien to us but in fellowship with us and we can be like Him. Our emotions, in the end, will be fitted for life in eternity with God. The goal of biblical EQ is thus not commercial success or social popularity but fellowship with God and harmony in Heaven.


Objection 3: There isn't enough information about His emotional life to base an EQ theory on.

Solution: There is enough to give us key reference points so we can gain a reasonable impression of what it means to have a redeemed and Christ-like emotional life.


The information about the emotional life of Jesus is contained both in direct references to His humanity such as "Jesus wept" in John 11 and in broader more theological references that imply His full humanity and complete goodness. For instance John calls Him “the light of life” and states that darkness had no place in Him and could not overpower Him. To have no "darkness" in one's spirit is to have emotions that are never deceitful, false, envious, spiteful, grumbling or small-minded. All His emotions were "light", not in the sense of light-hearted but as in the sense of positive, true, illuminating, righteous, appropriate and genuine. There was never a snicker or a snarl, never a dark brooding, violent emotion. Whether in tears or triumph the emotions of Jesus were noble, wise, good and perfectly righteous. Then there are the direct references. A survey of any good systematic theology such as Erickson or Grudem will find a wealth of information under the heading "the humanity of Jesus" as well as a good discussion of the complexities this entails (such as how the divine and the human were combined in one person). I will leave these intricacies to the theologians and will just list some of the biblical references which show how complete His humanity and emotional life was: Jesus experienced hunger (Matthew 4:2; 21:18), thirst (John 19:28) ,  fatigue (John 4:6) , He rejoiced at the end of the sending out of the seventy (Luke 10:21), marveled at the faith of the centurion (Matthew 8:10) and felt love for the rich, young ruler (Mark 10:21) . His most frequent emotion is compassion which is recorded eleven times in the gospels (see Matthew 9:36). Anger was part of life for Jesus such as when He became angry at the Pharisees for their hardened cruelty (Mark 3:5) .


Zeal for God's honor caused Him to cleanse the temple (John 2:17). He grew in stature and in wisdom and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52), was subjected to high-powered temptation (Matthew 4:1-11) , and learned obedience without sinning (Hebrews 5:8-9) . He had some of life's more painful emotions as well. For instance He wept (Luke 19:41; John 11:35) , His soul was troubled (John 12:27) and a while later He was "troubled in spirit" (John 13:21) . He underwent extreme emotional distress to the point of death (Matthew 26:36-41) and prayed with loud cries and tears (Hebrews 5:7). Finally, He experienced an agonizing death on a cross (Matthew 27:34-54) with its attendant feelings of abandonment (Matthew 27:46).


The way Jesus processed His emotional life can also be deduced from some of the incidents in His life. For instance, He was extraordinarily calm in the face of storms and authoritative even in the face of arrest. He was an accessible person who was a "friend of sinners" and seemed to enjoy a reasonable social life with stable friendships with His disciples and with the household of Lazarus, Mary and Martha at Bethany. He had an inner circle of Peter, James and John and the apostle John seems to have been a true friend and was known as "the disciple whom Jesus loved". Thus there is sufficient evidence from direct references, incidents in the gospels and proper theological inference to construct a reasonable portrait of the emotional life of Jesus - at least one that can inform our discussion of biblical EQ.


Objection 4: Jesus is not a culturally relevant or gender relevant model for the emotional life I lead. To ask me to model my emotional life on His is inappropriate.

Solution: The cultural details of Jesus life are scant. God seems to have mainly preserved only those details about Jesus that are relevant for all places and times.


The core message of who Jesus is has been perceived by Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female down through the centuries. We will find out that Jesus shows us how to cope with pressure, express anger, set limits and boundaries, participate in grief and feel for the lost, the sick and the downtrodden. No one argues that Jesus shows us how to have compassion and love as our primary emotional realities. These are the sort of principles that survive cultural and gender differences. Each of the EQ skills that Jesus displayed is written into Scripture for our instruction. Much about His personality is left out - even such vital details as His age or His personal preferences. This means that those details that are in there (e.g. He is recorded 9 times as saying thanks at meals) are ones that the Holy Spirit wanted to draw attention to and are largely personality independent. [In the case of “saying grace” it is  the value of being thankful and cultivating a life of gratitude for daily provision.] Millions of people in dozens of cultures find the gospel accounts of Jesus highly relevant to their situation. Using Jesus as our model means following what Scripture says not what medieval paintings portray. There is no indication that Jesus had a beard or long hair or was slightly effeminate looking. All these cultural details are absent from the gospels. What is present is the account of a

person with a remarkable understanding of humanity and an enormous desire to heal it and redeem it. If we mould our passions on His passions we will be highly relevant people in a very needy world.


Objection 5: Jesus had a totally different spiritual gifting. I could never be as assertive, confident or confrontational as He comes across as in the gospel narratives.

Solution: Becoming like Jesus is not about becoming a clone of a prophet but is a unique journey of self-discovery.


God does make us each very different and He certainly does not ask us all to be evangelists or prophets. In fact it is quite clear that there is no one "right" Christian personality. Some are like Peter or Paul, while others resemble Moses, Daniel, Barnabas or Elijah. Yet as different as each of these people are or were, each of them was Christ-like. There is almost a trick to this. If I imitate another human such as Billy Graham, I end up not being myself in the end yet  if I imitate Jesus the reverse happens – I find myself. This is because Jesus is the center of humanity and the crown of humanity and we were all created by Him and for Him and in Him everything holds together, including our personalities (Colossians 1:15-20). Thus becoming like Jesus is like a journey to the center of the universe, full of adventures and surprises where we end up back where we began but marvelously transformed. When the timid person decides to become like Jesus he finds new boldness.


When the sarcastic wit decides to become like Jesus he finds new gentleness and tact. When the messed up and confused person decides to become like Jesus, clarity appears as if from nowhere. The gospels talk about losing yourself in order to find yourself and indeed we do. One person sets out, another returns who is somewhat similar but entirely different. The timid person loses their fear that they have harbored for so long, the sarcastic person loses their cruelty, the disordered person loses their freedom to be foolish. No one becoming like Jesus becomes a clone. It’s not a journey to a single point, a “dot” we must all approximate. We don’t all end up in Jerusalem wearing sandals. Maybe it’s a bit like a spiritual black hole in which we seem to vanish but actually end up on a journey in another universe traveling faster than the speed of light .


Objection 6:  Jesus was tactless and His "high EQ" just got Him crucified. That is not something ordinary people should imitate. They should be tactful and careful.


Solution: Jesus was not tactless. He was an effective agent of change and a brilliant communicator who was steadfastly opposed. His EQ skills made Him effective and powerful and thus are worth imitating.


The ministry of Jesus and His EQ skills seem to have gone through three stages:

Favor: First Jesus grew in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). Secondly His early ministry was characterized by people being astonished at the gracious words that fell from His lips. (Luke 4:22). At this stage His EQ skills make Him perceptive, gracious and tactful.

Effectiveness: He taught with authority and challenged the teachings of the scribes and the Pharisees. Some opposed Him, many listened and His following grew. His opponents were infuriated by Him, but they were not yet afraid of Him. At this stage His EQ skills make Him authoritative and effective as a public speaker and prophetic teacher.

Power: Jesus eventually became a national political and religious figure that many people wanted to see become King. He was able to challenge the highest authorities in the land and to create genuine fear in His opponents. His enemies were now truly afraid of Him and plotted His death like that of any political enemy. At this stage His EQ skills make Him a skilful leader of a mass movement and also someone able to withstand enormous pressure and persecution.


For Christians the development of a high biblical EQ goes through these same three stages of favor, effectiveness and power. Stage One is "growing in favor" where EQ skills are honed and refined and poor strategies are discarded. Stage Two is effectiveness where EQ skills are honed in one's own home town and district and an effective and authoritative ministry develops. Stage Three is power when EQ skills are used to effect large scale change in one's community such as being a community organizer, politician, writer, moral crusader, preacher or evangelist.


These latter stages generally provoke a reaction from the Evil One who launches his attacks against the now highly effective Christian. Two Scriptures are relevant here:


Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV) 


Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (25) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (26) For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (27) For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:24-28 NKJV)


Godliness will attract the scorn of some and the hatred of a few. If those few occupy places of power then the persecution can be trying indeed. Nevertheless, we are called to be lights in the midst of darkness and sheep in the midst of wolves; as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. A high EQ will enable you to skillfully handle high level social and political issues and be a real influence for good in your society. However, this will attract attention, envy, rivalry, and in some cases ridicule, scorn and hatred.


The prophet Daniel is a prime example of this. His high biblical EQ, wisdom and maturity made him effective and influential but made others envious and landed him in the lions’ den amongst other places. But God delivered him! My experience of Christian political involvement is that the persecution is always more than I wanted but always far less than I feared. If you strive to attain the EQ of Jesus Christ you will eventually become so gracious, poised, and authoritative that you will have a real presence that makes a difference at national and international levels. Unfortunately you will also have real enemies opposing the righteous changes that you are seeking to bring about. Then it’s time to take up your cross and follow Him!



So we see that Jesus is indeed a very adequate and, in fact, ideal model for the development of the Christian’s emotional life. This is a high calling and in some ways a daunting one. How did Jesus cope? What gave Him the strength as His neighbors in Nazareth questioned when He returned from the wilderness, “Where did He get this wisdom?” From the Holy Spirit!  And the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, particularly in His emotions, soul and spirit, is the subject of the next chapter.


Discussion Questions


1.         How scary is it to have Jesus as the model for your emotional life? Is it adventurous, scary or terrifying?


2.        How much like Jesus can we hope to be?


3.        What is the best thing about having Jesus as our spiritual model?


4.        How can we “jump off Jacob’s ladder”?


5.        Name the three stages Jesus went through in developing His EQ skills?


6.       At what stage are you in developing your own EQ skills?


7.        Name six emotions that Jesus felt. What do you think it was like for Him?


The Holy Spirit, the Emotional Life of Jesus, and the Emotional Life of the Spirit-Filled Believer.


There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. (2) The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1-2 NKJV)


The central teaching of this book is that as part of their redemption Christians are to take on the emotional life of their Saviour and that this occurs as a result of the power of the Holy Spirit who transforms us into the image of the Son of God. If the Holy Spirit is indeed the divine dynamic and the agent of deep emotional transformation then we should see some evidence of that in His work in the life of Jesus. Obvious questions arise that we will investigate such as: Did His baptism and empowerment with the Holy Spirit change Him or did He remain just the same? Are there any hints that the Holy Spirit lay behind the impressiveness of His personality? Can we appropriate some of the same power that moved Jesus?


The Baptism of Jesus and His EQ

While Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man there was also a sudden break in His life, a radical change in His emotions and personal authority so that those who knew Him said "where did He get this wisdom..."

And when He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? (55) "Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? (56) "And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?" (57) So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." (58) Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:54-58 NKJV) 

He had changed! While Luke shows us that Jesus was a child prodigy (Luke 2:42-50) no one expected Him to turn into a miracle working prophet. The transition from promising youth to powerful prophet seems to have come at His baptism. There was a massive empowering work of the Holy Spirit that changed Jesus just as the Holy Spirit at Pentecost changed the disciples.


The highest level EQ skills such as boldness and courage and skill in healing and proclamation are Holy Spirit endowed. The early church realized this when they prayed for boldness and the room shook! (Acts 4:29-31). EQ change empowered by the Holy Spirit can be remarkable and sudden and leave others astonished. I can testify personally to a remarkable change in one meeting in September 1978 when I went from being a timid and secretive Christian to being as bold as a lion and an ardent evangelist!


The Body of Jesus and the Holy Spirit

As we all know our physical state and our emotional state are closely connected. We are more disposed to get angry when we are tired or hungry. We also seem to inherit certain emotional dispositions from our parents. We are "hard-wired" from birth into a certain emotional disposition However, this can later be altered as we shall see. This can be as toxic as a problem with rage or as beneficial as the ability to be enraptured by music. The Holy Spirit set Jesus' genetic structure at conception so that He was unusually inclined to love righteousness and hate wickedness (Hebrews 1:9). A passage from Hebrews indicates that His body was prepared for Him by God, so that Jesus would love to do the will of God.


Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. {6} In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. {7} Then I said, 'Behold, I have come; In the volume of the book it is written of Me; To do Your will, O God.'" Hebrews 10:5-7 NKJV. (Author’s emphasis) 

Here we see that as Jesus came into the world He had a body prepared for Him by the Father and the express intent of His coming into the world was "to do Your will O God."  Jesus had a body that was free from sinful genetic predispositions towards rage, alcoholism, drug addiction, or whatever other negative traits that can be passed on genetically. Basically Jesus was born without any sinful dispositions. His body and nervous system were formed to do the will of God by the creative, body-renewing and forming work of the Holy Spirit.


If the creative work of the Holy Spirit was able to make Jesus’ body such that it was free from sinful tendencies then obviously that power can go to work in our bodies also. This gives us hope that long standing biological urges can be erased by the healing and renewing ministry of the Holy Spirit. Countless Christian recovery programs attest that this is the case. Alcoholics can and do lose the biological desire to drink, homosexuals can and do have their sexual orientation set right, drug addicts can and do completely lose their cravings, sex addicts can be and are freed from the torment of twenty four hours a day lust. But is this a realistic and a scriptural expectation? Let’s look at Romans 8:11:

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

The Holy Spirit can give life to our mortal bodies – not just our resurrection bodies, but the very bodies we have now, our mortal bodies. His renewing life can pulse through us and cleanse us from sins and addictions just as He can heal a person from illness or disease. Like a divine electrician He can fix the fuse box and rewire the house so the circuitry functions as it was always meant to – for the glory of God.


The biological basis of sin is not separate from the spiritual basis of sin. When God delivers you from sin He can deliver you from sin in your spirit, sin in your soul and eventually from the power of sin in your members. He can fix the physical and medical basis of rage, lust, addictions and anti-social behaviour. Minimal brain dysfunction, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and whatever else may be engraved in our neural tissue - can be healed by the Holy Spirit.


Let’s see how this happened for the Christians at Corinth:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, {10} nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV. (Author’s emphasis) 

The Corinthian Christians have come from some terrible backgrounds including fornication and adultery (sexual addiction), homosexuals and sodomites (probably pedophiles in this case), and drunkards (alcoholics). These behaviors are generally acknowledged to have a strong and persistent biological and neurological component.


However, they are now PAST behaviors, they have been repented of and forsaken and the Corinthians are now washed and made holy! "Such WERE some of you" – it’s over, dealt with, fixed. And this transformation took place "in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God". Paul puts it this way:

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 NKJV) 


I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (17) For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18 NKJV) 

The Spirit can deal with the flesh in both its spiritual and biological aspects. We are not at the mercy of our genetics or our addictions. The Holy Spirit can set us free! What He did in constructing the body of Jesus so that it was prepared to do God's will can be done for you as well "for nothing is impossible to him who believes".


The Soul and Spirit of Jesus

Listed below are all the direct gospel references to the soul and spirit of Jesus Christ.

Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." (Matthew 26:38 NKJV) 

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. (Matthew 27:50 NKJV)

 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? (Mark 2:8 NKJV)

But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation." (Mark 8:12 NKJV) 

 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch." (Mark 14:34 NKJV)

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. (Luke 10:21 NKJV) 


Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46 NIV) 

Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. (John 11:33 NKJV) 

"Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” (John 12:27 NKJV) 

When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." (John 13:21 NKJV) 

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 NIV) 

Three things especially stand out:

Ø  That Jesus perceived life's situations with His Spirit.

Ø  That Jesus was moved on the basis of those perceptions.

Ø  That Jesus candidly expressed His emotions to those closest to Him.


Also to be noted are His ability to surrender His spirit to God and that with the surrender of His spirit His life ended. Note the power and depth of Jesus’ reactions. He cries out with a loud voice, is troubled unto death, or rejoices greatly. His Spirit-filled emotions were powerful and present. He is no antiseptic, calm beyond belief, purely logical and mental being. The triumphs and tragedies of faith move Him deeply indeed - as they have moved all great men and women of God.


Jesus and Perception

In Mark 2:8 Jesus "perceived in His spirit". The spirit is the true organ for the perception of reality for Jesus as Isaiah declared in one of the best known passages in the Bible:


There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. (2) The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (3) His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; (4) But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. (5) Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist. (Isaiah 11:1-5 NKJV)


The presence of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus gave Him extraordinary knowledge and wisdom so that He judged situations righteously and truthfully and inwardly. He did not judge situations as they appeared to the eyes and ears and to sense perception (verse 3 above). Rather He judged life's situations with a spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and knowledge that saw into the heart of things. This special perception that Jesus had shows in many of the gospel encounters and is neatly summarized by the apostle John who writes: (John 2:24 NKJV) But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men. (see also Matthew 9:4; 12:25; Mark 5:30; 12:15; Luke 11:17; John 5:6; 6:61, 64; 13:1-3; 18:4)


Jesus' perceptions of situations then led to His emotional reactions to them. On sensing His impending death His soul was troubled unto death. On seeing the grief at Lazarus’ tomb He groaned in spirit and was troubled. When the disciples returned victorious He rejoiced. When He perceived the hardness of heart of the Pharisees He became angry. When He sees masses of people coming out after healing and teaching He is moved with compassion. (see "objection 3 in the previous chapter) . Jesus then expressed these emotions powerfully but appropriately. There is always great dignity in the reactions of Jesus Christ. His emotionality was deep and expressive - never trivial, sentimental or chaotic. This then gives us a process for our own emotionality:


1.        Perceive life spiritually, righteously, truthfully and with a Kingdom


2.       React in our soul and spirit. Be moved by life. Not aloof and

detached or cold and hard.

3.       Express those reactions with dignity, power and poise. Be full-

hearted emotionally but also be wise in expression.


In the next chapter we will see that the apostles and many great men and women of God over the centuries have done precisely this - bringing their emotions under the control and empowerment of the Spirit of God so they reacted to things no longer from a merely human perspective with its five senses and self-interest but from a divine perspective with spiritual perception and true Kingdom interests. This is what makes a good Christian biography so compelling - we sense a different way of  looking at the world - a heart controlled by God and seeing His interests in all things. In that chapter I will argue that a Kingdom perspective is not only good for our sanctification it is also critical for good emotional health and a

high EQ. However, I have more to say about the emotional life of Jesus first.


The Beliefs of Jesus Christ

Emotions flow from beliefs. When I was a young boy I was playing by the local creek when I found a huge lump of iron pyrites (Fool’s Gold) and it was heavy and soft and looked like gold. I showed my brother Peter and we went home very secretively so nobody could see us with our important find. We then showed Dad and said, “We are rich! We are rich! We found this huge lump of gold and there’s more just down by the creek!” Dad just laughed and explained about Fool’s Gold. Even though our belief was not a true belief it still made us very happy while it lasted. We were so excited, not by actually finding gold, because we didn’t actually find gold, but by the belief that we had found gold. When this belief was corrected, our emotion of joy was unsupported by an adequate belief, and it vanished. We went from very excited to being a bit disappointed. Once the belief vanished, the emotion vanished.

Underneath emotions are beliefs, if you take way the belief the emotion vanishes. If you change the belief sufficiently, the emotion changes.


How we believe has a direct affect on how we feel. This applies even in spiritual things. So if, like Jesus, you think that stealing houses from poor widows is wrong, you will react to it with the intensity that Jesus did. The difference between a video camera recording an event and a person seeing the event is that the person has prior beliefs. These prior beliefs cause the person to react to what they see.  Let’s look at three incidents in the life of Jesus to see how His beliefs informed His emotional reactions and made them different from those of so called "normal people". First we will look at His cleansing of the temple:


So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. (16) And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. (17) Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a 'den of thieves.'" (Mark 11:15-17 NKJV)


Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (14) And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. (15) When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. (16) And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" (17) Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." (John 2:13-17 NKJV) 


What beliefs of Jesus lay behind the strength of His reaction here? In Mark's gospel we see that Jesus believed:

a) That the purpose of the Temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations. 

b) But that it had become a robbers den.


In John's gospel Jesus is shown believing that it is:

c) My Father's house 

b) But instead it had become a house of merchandise (with the implication that it was dishonest trade.

[The accounts are not contradictory they just report slightly different examples of Jesus reactions at the time. It is probable that he said many other things as well while He was overturning the tables.]


Let’s look at the sequence of events. Jesus believes it should be “A” but perceives it is in fact “B”. This leads to emotional reaction “C” which is expressed in verbal and physical behaviour D. For Jesus His beliefs included the honor due to His Father, the fact that the right use of the temple was prayer and that all nations should have access to it. They also included the belief that trade, especially dishonest trade, was inappropriate in such a location. These were not widely and strongly held beliefs in His time otherwise the traders would not have been there in the first place. His unique beliefs led to His unique emotional reaction based on His spiritual perception of the nature of the situation.


Let’s look at another of Jesus' puzzling reactions - during a fierce storm on the lake of Galilee.


And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. {25} Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" {26} But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:24-26 NKJV) 


Here Jesus' belief seems to have been that He was absolutely safe and that nothing could touch Him because His Father was protecting Him and the disciples. His belief also included the fact that it was a sane and reasonable thing for Him to speak to waves and wind and expect that they would obey Him. Furthermore, He seems to believe that the disciples ought to share these beliefs and were quite unjustified in being fearful in the midst of such a storm.


Based on these beliefs Jesus’ perception of the situation seems to have been "Not a problem!". It just wasn't a big deal. To say that this is "counter-intuitive" and defies all common sense is no under-statement. Nevertheless, his beliefs were justified for He calmed the storm with a word. It truly wasn't a problem for Him at all.


People of great faith have a tremendous poise in crisis situations. In a later chapter we shall learn how to handle situations we dread from a position of faith and a sense of mastery. Here Jesus’ beliefs led to Him having emotions of calm and a sense of mastery in a crisis situation and enabled Him to take effective action to remedy the situation.


For our third illustration of Jesus' belief system we will go a few verses earlier in Matthew 8 to see the only time Jesus is recorded as "marveling" at something…


And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." (8) The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. (9) "For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." (10) When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (11) And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (12) But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (13) Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour. (Matthew 8:7-14 NKJV) 


Here Jesus is marveling at the "great faith" of the Roman centurion. There are many beliefs of Jesus recorded here such as the hardness of Israel, the salvation of the Gentiles and the power of His commands to heal the sick but none of these beliefs are the mainstay of His marveling at the centurion. Jesus is reacting to the presence of great faith in an unexpected place - a Gentile and a soldier, a man who was outside of the covenant and whose job was killing people and who was in part responsible for the occupation of His nation.


This was the reaction of one belief structure to another belief structure. The centurion expressed His beliefs about a) his unworthiness as a Gentile (though a powerful man) to have Jesus visit him and b) His belief in Jesus' authority and the power of His words of command. As the centurion expressed these beliefs Jesus in turn resonated with them. Just as the hardness of heart of the Pharisees enraged Him, just as the littleness of faith of the disciples disappointed Him, the great faith of the centurion  encouraged and astonished Him. It was a "rare find" : Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!


So we see that belief structures react to one another and evaluate one another. When we find another who is astonishingly full of faith we rejoice. When we find someone hard and cynical and unbelieving we are discouraged or angered. Like Jesus we search out those that resonate with us. They are a rare find and a treasure. The way we interact with others will depend in large measure on what we believe about what they believe. Much inter-denominational misunderstanding revolves around "what we believe about what they believe" and the strong emotional reactions that result. It’s a critical area for mental health and is why some types of fundamentalism though very sound in many areas are incredibly damaging psychologically.


Putting It All Together

Earlier we saw that perceptions led to internal emotions which were then expressed appropriately. Later we have seen that our perceptions work with our beliefs to produce astonishing emotional reactions that are unique to the Christ-like Spirit-filled believer. In addition, we have a physical predisposition to certain types of emotional reactions and behaviors - covered in the first part of this chapter. Thus we can say that for Jesus and the Spirit-filled believer the steps are:


  1. Perception of person or situation – ideally in the Spirit.
  2. Interaction of perception with belief system.
  3. Internal emotion generated.
  4. Interaction of internal emotion with physical predisposition.
  5. Expression of emotion outwardly.






















Let’s now look at where the Holy Spirit is in Jesus’ beliefs and perceptions!



But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." {10} But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. {11} For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. {12} Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. {13} These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:9-13 NKJV) (Author’s emphasis) 


Thus verse 13 is the culmination of a long sequence. Firstly truth which eye cannot see and ear cannot hear is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit (verses 9-11). Then we receive them through the Holy Spirit who teaches us and works them into our belief system. This is freely and graciously given (verse 12). Finally we speak and we speak not human, but divine wisdom and not in human words and categories but in words the Holy Spirit gives us.


Thus Scripture is not just God's Word in human words; rather it is God's Word in the Spirit's Words. Let’s see how this worked for Jesus:


Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. {29} "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (John 8:28 NKJV) 


The responses, reactions, words and expressions are taught to us by God and are in spiritual categories "comparing spiritual with spiritual.”


 That leads on to the last section of this chapter - symbols, metaphors, and archetypes - how the Spirit teaches us to express spiritual things - including our emotions.


The Language of the Spirit and the Emotional Realm - Symbols, Metaphors and Archetypes

As I am writing this "Just As I Am" is playing on the stereo in the background and the choir is singing "O Lamb Of God I come..". This is the language of the Spirit that makes no sense to the carnal man but which abounds in Scripture and in the great moments of the Christian faith including the hymns that lift us to God. To take up where we left off in the passage1 Corinthians:


These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (14) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. (16) For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:13-16 NKJV) 


There is something called "the mind of Christ" which enables the believer to make sense of symbolic language such as "the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" and to quickly grasp the meaning of parables and to feel the wonder of the scenes in Revelation. The Holy Spirit enables us to perceive and believe correctly thus renewing our mind into the mind of Christ. He is our Teacher and instructor and does so in the language of the spiritual realm - dreams, visions, symbols, parables and metaphors - using analogues of the faith to explain it as well as more straightforward language such as that of the book of Romans.


In the language of the Spirit beasts with seven heads and ten horns are juxtaposed with scarlet women and numinous symbols such as the Throne of God. These can be visual as well as verbal symbols and realities. Angels, demons, cherubim and seraphim are seen by the  seers and prophets. To the purely material and "scientific" mind this is all quite offensive and many liberal theologians have stumbled over it. The more we think of  the power of our own intellect the less we think of God's Word and the more we think of God's Word the less we think of the power of our own intellect!


Jesus was supremely taught of God and a master of the symbolic realm so that He expressed Himself skillfully in parables, aphorisms, sermons and stories. His teaching was unlike that of the scribes and Pharisees for He taught with authority and in such a way that those truly seeking God understood Him while those who were just curious walked away puzzled and frustrated with His teaching. The language of the Spirit is not "plain language" but is strangely numinous and symbolic. If you have seen some of the "New Age advertising" that taps into these common and universal symbols of the emotional world you will know what I mean.


These symbols or archetypes such as a woman dressed in a flowing white robe holding a torch aloft, a dove against a clear blue sky, a rainbow, a man on a white horse dressed for war, a shining sword or a red dragon have universal emotional content almost independent of culture. The psychologist Carl Jung spent His life exploring them and Hitler was a master at exploiting them. Transpersonal psychology and various schools of psychoanalysis take them very seriously indeed. Myth, saga, music, song and poetry all tap into this treasure trove of emotional and spiritual symbols as do fables and stories and most national anthems.


We interact with spiritual language either totally or not at all. The phrase "the Lamb of God" either has immense meaning or is a total enigma. It is an almost binary form of communication that literally "separates the sheep from the goats" and believers from unbelievers.


Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. (26) But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. (27) My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:25-27 NKJV) 


In a startling statement Jesus said "but you do not believe because you are not of my sheep". In other words you have to be one of God's people to understand His teaching! It’s the other side of the more usual "because you do not believe you are not God's". Here it’s "because you are not God's - you do not believe." Some eagerly believe and can understand the language of the Spirit while others are just further hardened by it. (John 12:40).


Thus the spiritual person understands the things of the Spirit including symbols, parables and dreams. He is taught spiritual things by God and has a deep emotional response to them which in turn finds its deepest expression in the language of the Spirit, speaking spiritual truths in words taught by God comparing spiritual with spiritual.



For Jesus and ideally for the Christ-like Spirit-filled believer the model of the process for the development of the emotional life is as follows:

1.        Things are perceived in and by the spirit by believers with the mind of Christ and a lucid grasp of symbol and metaphor. These believers see life as being in a Kingdom framework.

2.       This perception is then passed through a grid of beliefs taught to the believer by God.

3.       This results in a godly internal emotional state in the believer of rejoicing, awe, wonder, repentance, burdens for the lost, etc.

4.      This is then mediated through the renewed life-filled temple of the Holy Spirit that is the believer’s body and translated through his natural God-given temperament.

5.       Finally, the emotional response is expressed in words taught by the Spirit bringing edification to the body of Christ and reflecting the mind of Christ on the matter.


This should result in a deep, powerful resonant emotional life that is totally in tune with Kingdom realities and which can express matters of justice and truth as well as care and compassion. This Holy Spirit produced emotional life should weep for the lost, ache for the poor and celebrate the repentance of a single sinner. Like Jesus we should have a Holy Spirit given courage that enables us to speak God’s truth in God’s words at God’s moment. Like Jesus the Holy Spirit in us should make us radiant with a healing and gracious personality so that people sense the love and peace that is in us and know that in our earthen vessels dwells a priceless treasure.


The next two chapters will test the above five-step theory before we put it into practice on ourselves. First, we will look at the emotional life of apostles, prophets and great Christian leaders. Next we shall examine the dreadful emotional life of carnal Christians. Finally, we shall see if the model we have developed works.


Discussion Questions

1.         What are the steps in the five-step model?


2.        What was special about the body of Jesus Christ?


3.        What difference did the Holy Spirit make in the life of Jesus?


4.        How did Jesus perceive reality differently from others?


5.        How did the beliefs of Jesus Christ affect or determine His behavior?


6.       How is symbolic language often quite different from the language we normally use? Why is it useful ?


The Emotional Life of the Apostles, Prophets and Great Christian Leaders

"…'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'(Acts 13:22 NKJV)


If the previous chapter summary of the emotional life of the Christ-like Christian is correct, then it will predict the lives of the most Christ-like people and will also predict, in a negative way,   the lives of the most carnal people.


In this chapter we will check to see if the theory of biblical EQ has predictive validity when applied to the lives of the great Christian leaders. In the next chapter we will check to see if it also predicts the emotional lives of carnal Christians.


According to our model the following twelve things should be true of the apostles, prophets and great Christian leaders.



1.        They should see the world differently from the rest of us. For them the Kingdom perspective will be the only true perspective.

2.       They should be able from time to time to see into the hearts of men and women and to speak accurately to their condition.

3.       They should be conversant with dreams, visions and symbolic language. They should readily grasp the prophetic and be excited by the Scriptures.


4.      They should have beliefs that the surrounding culture has not taught them or which it opposes vehemently; beliefs that only God can have taught them.

5.       Those beliefs should give them a sense of what is righteous and what is unrighteous, like Jesus had when He cleansed the temple. These should create an unusual zeal within that consumes them.

6.      Those beliefs should give them unusual poise and power in crisis situations, like Jesus in the storm.

7.       As a result of those beliefs they should resonate with and be emotionally drawn to others who are of great faith, like Jesus resonated with the Roman centurion.



8.      They should have deep and vivid emotions like those of Jesus


9.      They should have a sense of  their emotions being God's emotions

and be aware of what they are feeling and able to name it clearly as Jesus did with His emotions. They should be people of authentic and powerful emotional expression - groans, tears, crying, and rejoicing.

Physical Nature

10.    They should demonstrate victory over addictions and sexual

temptations and have a renewed physical nature whereby they were able to express their emotions in godly ways through their physical bodies.

Emotional Expression

11.     These righteous emotions should lead to righteous actions such

as when Jesus' compassion moved Him to act. Their emotionality should be an integral part of being a righteous person, not detached from life like the emotions of an actor or a hypocrite.

12.    The course of their lives should demonstrate an ever-increasing

wisdom in emotional expression as if they were being taught by God in how to say things.


Do these twelve predictions pass the test of Scripture and of the testimony of the saints down through the ages? Are great men and women of God people of deep and vivid emotionality? Do they demonstrate an unusual sense of righteousness? Do they indeed see life differently? Do they hold counter-cultural beliefs or have an unusual power and poise in crisis situations? The answer is Yes! In fact great men and women of God are so vivid emotionally that they are often accused of being overly emotional - from Jeremiah with his tears to John Wesley with his preaching. Luther saw life so differently that he threw his ink-pot at the Devil! Isaiah was so counter-cultural that he went around for three years with his buttocks uncovered! (Isaiah 20:1-3).


Let’s test our predictions on the spiritual heroes of Hebrews 11. I will go paragraph by paragraph commenting on how these heroes perceived, believed, felt and reacted differently.


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. (3) By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11 NKJV) 


These heroes of faith saw a different reality than others. They had evidence of things not seen and they understood that the visible world was predicated on perception of an invisible spiritual world.


 (4) By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (5) By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (6) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.


The belief system of these people was different from and more excellent than that of their contemporaries and was grounded in the invisible spiritual reality that they perceived.


 (7) By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (8) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (9) By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; (10) for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (11) By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. (12) Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude; innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. (13) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (14) For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. (15) And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. (16) But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.


These great men and women of God had beliefs that gave them an unusual sense of righteousness which condemned their generation e.g. Noah. Their beliefs gave them the courage to be counter-cultural to seek a heavenly country and to see life from a Kingdom perspective.

(17) By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, (18) of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," (19) concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. (20) By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (21) By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. (22) By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. (23) By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. (24) By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, (25) choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, (26) esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. (27) By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. (28) By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (29) By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.


Their unique beliefs led to godly emotions such as Jacob worshipping on the top of his staff. It led to unusual poise and courage in the face of enraged Pharaoh. It led to the ability to go against normal human emotions in the case of Abraham sacrificing Isaac.


(30) By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. (31) By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (32) And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: (33) who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, (34) quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (35) Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. (36) Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. (37) They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (38) of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. (39) And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, (40) God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.


Finally, we see such great emotional mastery and Kingdom perspective that men and women of faith were enduring torture in the hope of a better resurrection!  Poise, power and peace and a most unusual set of emotions characterized these heroes of faith. Their emotions moved them to righteous lives and actions. They were not subject to cravings or addictions or impulses of the flesh, rather they had the steady strong enduring emotions that were part of the life of Jesus Christ.


What’s the Difference Between Overly-Emotional People and the Vivid Emotions of Jesus And the Prophets?

Let’s start this investigation by taking a look at that chronicler of the emotional life of David the Psalmist. I have chosen a Psalm "at random" - Psalm 30.


I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me. {2} O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. (3) O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (4) Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. (5) For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. (6) Now in my prosperity I said, "I shall never be moved." (7) LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled. (8) I cried out to You, O LORD; And to the LORD I made supplication: (9) "What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? {10} Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!" (11) You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, (12) To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalms 30 NKJV) (author’s emphasis)


These twelve short verses give us a good example of David's emotional life. What is the difference between David’s emotional life and the emotional roller coaster of some Christians?

·         The negative emotions are temporary, "weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning".

·         There is a righteous resolution of the emotions, a giving of thanks in the end.

·         The emotions are primarily directed towards God in a private and appropriate fashion.

·         There is a wide range of appropriate emotions from joy to a troubled spirit. The emotional thermostat is not stuck in just one position e.g. deep gloom or

constant happiness.

·         There is an ability to see good in God in the midst of it all - to sing

praise and give thanks. The spiritual perspective is not lost.

·         There is no stifling of emotions, they are expressed in spiritual terms , "that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent".

·         There is repentance of false perspectives and beliefs. "Now in my prosperity I said 'I shall not be moved..". When God challenges this David repents of his self-sufficiency.  People who are out of balance emotionally do the opposite and cling to their self-defeating perspectives.

·         In the expression of emotions there is genuine dignity and beauty. This psalm is poetry!


[If this area interests you why not take some more of the Psalms and explore their emotional content. The men and women of God down through the centuries have valued them for the insights they give into the emotional life of the believer.]


So we see there is a vast difference between the deep, powerful and godly emotions of the saints and the clanging, shrill emotions of Christian neurotics. The emotions of the saints have God at the center. The emotions of neurotics have self at the center.


What About the Different Temperaments?

The question "which Bible character are you most like?" is an interesting one. I am a miniature "clone" of Paul the apostle sharing much of his impatience and his intellectual approach to the faith.  Others say they are like Peter or Moses or David or Jeremiah or Amos. Tim La Haye made an important contribution with his book, Transformed Temperaments, which identified four personality types - Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy and Phlegmatic. Those of you familiar with Myers-Briggs personality tests will know it also has four basic categories divided into sixteen sub-types. Whatever your schema, one thing is obvious, there is a wide range of personality types! God uses people of all temperaments in His Kingdom and designs ministries and places for each of them. He called complex Thomas as well as straightforward Peter, Simon the Zealot and the sons of Thunder as well as Matthew the pragmatic tax-collector. Sophisticated Daniel was sent to minister to Nebuchadnezzar while Amos the farmer went to bluntly prophesy to the northern kingdom. Having a high biblical EQ does not mean that you are the same as everyone else or that you become a cute, saccharine sweet, always smiling, never-a-hair-out-of-place believer. There is a vast range for individuality and even for eccentricity within the Kingdom of God!


Eccentricity? Well the prophets were hardly "normal"! John the Baptist wearing camel's hair clothes and eating locusts may be viewed as "eccentric" along with Elijah, Ezekiel and characters such as Samson. These people were culturally distinct but not the least bit mentally ill - they just lived by a different and higher reality which consumed them.


Different temperaments have different uses within the Kingdom of God. Barnabas was a great encourager of the brethren, while Peter's high emotionality made him a master preacher and evangelist. Paul's razor sharp mind made him a great one for attending to the operational details and theology of church life. John's mystical temperament pointed to the deep abiding spiritual realities and resulted in wonderful teaching on prayer. Titus seems to have been a born trouble-shooter while Timothy was the sensitive and caring pastor par excellence.


God will use your basic temperament that He has built into you - and even some of your weaknesses, for when you are weak then you are strong! Your basic God-created and renewed self is OK! God can and will use it and has accepted it in Christ Jesus (Romans 14:7).


Being accepted does not mean being unchanged. The Holy Spirit will take certain parts of your basic emotional temperament and refine them into the image of Christ Jesus. Paul matured in tolerance and love and Peter became stable and reliable. Timothy had to overcome his timidity and learn to suffer hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. As the Holy Spirit convicts you, teaches you and ministers to you a slow but sure transformation will take place that will increase your maturity in Christ and your usefulness to the Master. I find Hebrews especially encouraging by the fact that I have a merciful and faithful High Priest in heaven who understands my weakness and intercedes for me and I have a throne of grace to go to for strength and help in time of need (Hebrews 4:12-16).


Emotions In Times of Revival

If the Holy Spirit acts to redeem our emotions into those of Christ Jesus what causes the emotional excesses during times of revival? Does the Holy Spirit, who so desires balance, holiness, wisdom and truth cause these bizarre manifestations? This is an often discussed question and in recent years this has become a controversial topic. Therefore, I will try to offer some comment and resolution.


Firstly, emotions DO run high when God moves mightily in times of genuine revival. I recommend the book "The Nature of Revival" a collection of writings from the journals of John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitfield abridged and put into modern English by my friend Clare G. Weakley Jr. and published by Bethany House Publishers. These journal entries give great insight into the emotionality of these great men of God and the extraordinary events of their times.  Here are a few random extracts:


P 84. John Wesley.. "On Friday all Newgate rang with the cries of those whom the word of God had cut to the heart. Two of these were filled with joy in a moment, to the astonishment of those who watched them."


P 85. John Wesley regarding one who opposed the revival: “While reading the last page he changed color, fell off his chair, and began screaming terribly as he beat himself against the ground…between one and two in the morning I came in and found him on the floor. The room was full of people who his wife tried to keep out. He cried aloud "No let them all come! Let all the world see the just judgment of God!". Two or three men were trying to hold him down. He immediately fixed his eyes on me, stretched out his hand and said "Aye this is he who I said was a deceiver of the people! But God has overtaken me! I said it was all a delusion, but this is no delusion!" …(He is eventually released from torment.)


P 87. "While I was enforcing these words "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10), God began to bare His arm, not in private but in the open air and before more than two thousand witnesses. One then another, and yet another was struck to the earth, greatly trembling at the presence of God's power. Others loudly and bitterly cried "What must we do to be saved?"


Few revivals have been without great emotion and the revivalist Jonathan Edwards wrote a famous treatise on "Religious Affections." which established that the emotions were a by-product of grace not its chief aim. The aim of the godly evangelist is not an emotional audience but a repentant and believing audience.


If the emotions expressed so powerfully indicate that repentance is taking place and that people are meeting with God and having their souls transformed then that emotion is a good thing. However, if it is simply emotionality, hype, manipulated sentimentality and the like and no work of God is taking place and people are not truly turning from darkness to light then it is unprofitable.


A revival in which there is no great emotion would be like a wedding without joy. Such a momentous thing is happening to so many people that surely some great expression of emotion must accompany it. However, when the emphasis is on the manifestations - the tears, the laughter, the falling, etc., then it has gone off track. The wedding should focus on the bride and groom and the revival on Christ and on the believer's transformation. The emotions are just part and parcel of the process and not ends in themselves. In a later chapter on handling our strong emotions I go into the issue of discernment at quite some length. However, I think we should conclude this brief section by saying that the powerful and bizarre emotions of revival are a temporary excess that God permits, but does not encourage. After the emotions and the changes the person so powerfully affected should go on to lead a normal, balanced, wise, godly and sanctified life. They should not keep on having bizarre emotional experiences. That is immature. Mature people display resonant love, deep wisdom and emotional control.


Christian Maturity and Emotion

I soon got the impression as a new Christian that my enthusiasm was expected to wear off and that when I "became mature" I would have rather dull and respectable emotions that resembled cold porridge poured into a grey flannel suit. Is this the sort of emotional maturity that Scripture speaks of in Ephesians?


Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (14) that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, (15) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ. (Ephesians 4:13-15 NKJV) 


Christian emotional maturity does involve emotional stability - we are not "tossed to and fro…by every wind of doctrine".  It also involves "growing up" in all things and becoming a person participating in the stature and fullness of Christ. While it involves the stability of Christ it also involves the passion and zeal of Christ (John 2:17; Titus 2:14) and His ability to bless and to care. In fact part of the purpose of our redemption is to become a people “zealous for good deeds”.


Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:14 NASB) 


Maturity is not the loss of emotions but the educating of emotions so they are like those of Jesus Christ and the mature person is both stable and zealous.


Childish emotions are OUT for the mature Christian but Christ-like emotions are IN. In the next chapter we will see what carnal emotions look like, how they are the reverse of the biblical EQ process and how we can move beyond them and start the process of "growing up in all things into Him who is the head - even Christ".


Discussion Questions


1.         Do you think that King David was overly emotional? If not, why not?


2.        What is different about the emotions of the great Christian leaders?


3.        What about revival? How should we cope with strong emotions in Christian gatherings?


4.        Go back over the twelve predictions at the beginning of this chapter. How do you feel as you read them and what picture do they paint for you about how the Christian life should be lived?


5.         How do our different characters and temperaments fit in with a view of emotions that is centered around one person – Jesus Christ?


6.       What do you think Christian maturity looks like?


The Emotional Life Of  The Carnal Christian


And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. (2) I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; (3) for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? (4) For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal?

 (1 Corinthians 3:1-5 NKJV)


We just saw how the five-step model of emotions quite accurately predicted the emotional life of Spirit-filled men and women of God. Now the model has as its central theme that emotional maturity is arrived at by focusing on Jesus, and modeling our emotions after Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who renews our perceptions, beliefs, emotions, and physical bodies and who gives us wisdom in how to express our emotions in ways that are “taught of God”. We saw a positive correlation between what the theory predicted about the great saints of God, who cooperated with the Holy Spirit, and how they turned out emotionally, becoming beings of emotional grandeur. If our model stands the test, then those who resist the Holy Spirit, those who are unspiritual, should not be beings of emotional grandeur. Rather they should be emotionally unformed and immature. If, as our theory predicts, the Holy Spirit is essential for full emotional formation, then unspiritual Christians should be emotional wrecks, or at the least quite shallow and indifferent emotionally. These unspiritual Christians are termed  “carnal Christians” and in this chapter we will see if our model can predict how they will turn out and what lessons we can learn from that.


The carnal Christian is characterized by an astonishing lack of spiritual maturity to the point where they cannot be addressed as spiritual people. Carnal Christians behave like "mere men" and are indistinguishable from the surrounding culture with their actions and reactions. Using our model we can again make certain predictions about the emotional life of those who do not give the Holy Spirit full lordship of their lives. We will just reverse the predictions in the previous chapter.



1.        They will see the world in much the same terms as the surrounding culture. For them the Kingdom perspective will be rare and they will be mainly self-centered.

2.       They will be unable to see into the hearts of men and women and even empathy will be rare. They will not speak accurately to the human condition.

3.       They will be baffled by dreams, visions and symbolic language. They will be bored by the prophetic and struggle with understanding the Scriptures.


4.      They will mainly have beliefs that the surrounding culture has taught them. They will not hold beliefs that the culture opposes vehemently, and will have few beliefs that only God could have taught them.

5.       They will have a very weak sense of what is righteous and what is unrighteous and rarely react to social evil. They would tolerate the selling of doves in the Temple. Zeal will be unusual for them and even undesirable. They will not be consumed by Kingdom interests.

6.      They will not have unusual poise and power in crisis situations, like Jesus in the storm, but rather will be prone to anxiety.

7.       They will not  resonate with and be emotionally drawn to those who are of great faith. Rather they will feel more at home with the world and with other carnal Christians.



8.      They will not have deep, vivid and stable emotions like those of Jesus Christ. They will instead be characterized by shallow sentimental spiritual feelings that vary with every wind of doctrine.

9.      They will have little sense of their emotions being God's emotions. They will often be unaware of what they are feeling and will be unable to name their emotions clearly.  They will not be people of authentic emotional expression.

Physical Nature

10.    They will not demonstrate victory over addictions and sexual temptations. They will fail to express their emotions in godly ways through their physical bodies.

Emotional Expression

11.     Their spiritual emotions will rarely lead to righteous actions.

Compassion for the lost or the poor will rarely be felt and will not move them to action. Their emotionality will be detached from real life and be like the emotions of an actor or a hypocrite.

12.    The course of their lives will not demonstrate an ever-increasing

wisdom in emotional expression. They will go from bad to worse and become increasingly discordant like "a clanging gong and a clashing cymbal" if they should continue as carnal Christians.


How does this tally with your experience of carnal Christians? Unfortunately, the tally indicates they are not growing and in fact they are often going backwards spiritually. Let’s see what the New Testament says about them:


In the quote that opened this chapter we find Paul referring to the church in 1 Corinthians as “carnal”, so what was it like? The carnality of the church is reflected in a long list of  very serious sins. The first four chapters detail division, intellectual and spiritual pride, factions, and infighting.  Chapters five and six show they were visiting prostitutes, and engaging in sexual immorality, and incest. Chapter seven discusses marriage, divorce and the basics of sexually appropriate behavior. Chapters eight through eleven correct gross disorder such as being drunk at the Lord's Supper, not waiting for one another so one goes hungry while another is full, and participation in feasts in pagan temples and eating food sacrificed to idols. Chapters twelve to fourteen reveal a paganization of the spiritual gifts and their use in competitive, unloving and chaotic ways. Chapter fifteen finds them denying the resurrection and being in major error over basic doctrines. The church was a mess but it was still considered a Christian church. The church James wrote to may have even been worse! There they murdered one another (James 4:2) and treated the poor with contempt (James 2). Both these churches were considered Christian churches and the recipients were addressed as believers and referred to as saints or holy ones (1 Corinthians 1:2).


Several epistles are addressed to churches with a good percentage of carnal Christians these are: Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Titus, Hebrews and James. In these epistles the language is extremely plain and there are many stern warnings about the consequences of sin and the judgment of God (Galatians 5, Hebrews 6, 1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 12 & 13). In the first six or so chapters of his epistle the writer to the Hebrews says of his audience that they were  sluggish, unfruitful, dull of hearing, immature, like children, neglectful of their salvation, in danger of drifting away from the faith, hardening their hearts to God's Word and at the point of having "evil, unbelieving, hearts" (Hebrews 3:12).  In chapter ten the writer goes on to say they are neglecting meeting together and on the verge of giving up the faith, returning to sin and being judged by the living God. This is a terrifying picture indeed!


Carnal Christian’s lifestyles are almost indistinguishable from that of unbelievers. Such Christians are characterized by apathy, division, ongoing strife and a very low EQ! Carnal Christians "bite and devour one another" (Galatians 5:15). The carnal Christians needed lengthy instructions on the basics of human relationships and fortunately the apostolic response to this need has given rise to some of the finest literature on relationships in the world including the famous "love chapter" in 1 Corinthians 13. This is in direct contrast with other more Spirit-filled churches like the one at Thessalonica of whom Paul said :

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. (1 Thessalonians 4:9 NKJV) 


Where Then Is the Holy Spirit?

All truly born-again Christians receive the Holy Spirit as part of the dynamics of conversion and the formation of the new man in them, which is Christ in them the hope of glory. So all these Christians in Corinth, called “saints” by Paul, presumably had the Holy Spirit. Yet they were a mess. Something was dreadfully wrong. There seems to be a breakdown in their sanctification process. The Holy Spirit in them was not producing maturity. The fruit of the Spirit was not evident. Was this God’s fault? Had God given up on them? Surely not! These people were doing something that was stopping the Holy Spirit from having His way in their lives. They were sinning against the Spirit’s presence in their lives.

This raises a question. What then happens to the Holy Spirit in born-again Christians who have become carnal? In tribal cultures they often think that the Holy Spirit vanishes from you if you sin. That is not New Testament teaching. The Holy Spirit remains within the believer but is sinned against. Several terms are used such as: grieved (Ephesians 4:30), quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:18-21) lied to (Acts 5:4), put to the test (Acts 5:9), insulted / outraged (Hebrews 10:29), made jealous (James 4:4,5), blasphemed (Matthew 12:31) and resisted (Acts 7:51). In Jude the divisive people are said to be "devoid of the Spirit" (Jude 1:19). We will very briefly look at each of these terms to gain some understanding of the spiritual dynamics of sinning against the Holy Spirit and its effects on the emotional life.

Grieved (Ephesians 4:30) - by unnecessary and immature interpersonal conflict such as bitterness, wrath, slander and malice. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of love and is grieved by that which is opposed to love. Carnal behavior such as divisiveness and quarreling is anti-love, and causes grief to the Holy Spirit who is constantly trying to mature us in love.

Quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:18-21) - by despising the gifts of the Spirit, especially prophesy. It implies that His fire - His inspirational activity in prophecy and revival is resisted - perhaps in the name of order, and "cold water" is thrown on attempts to minister in spiritual power.

Lied To (Acts 5:4) - Ananias and Sapphira conspired in an act of financial deception of the apostles. This was seen as not deceiving men but God and lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:4) and resulted in them being carried out dead.

Put To The Test (Acts 5:9) - Again refers to Ananias and Sapphira and refers to their testing the omniscience of the Holy Spirit by thinking they could deceive those He had filled with power and anointed.

Insulted/Outraged/Do Despite Unto (Hebrews 10:29) - refers to someone who turns back from Christianity to Judaism (or to any other religion) and thus says that the work of the Spirit of grace in his or her life was of no value to them. These are apostates.

Made Jealous (James 4:4,5) - Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"?

Blasphemed (Matthew 12:31) - is used of those unbelieving Jews who so deeply resisted the Holy Spirit that they saw the miraculous ministry of Jesus Christ as the work of the Devil and attributed His power to Satan. Again it is never used of Christians.


Resisted (Acts 7:51) - refers to the unbelieving Jews who were stoning Stephen and resisting the clear testimony of the Holy Spirit. Later God said to one of those resistant Jews "Saul, Saul, it must be hard for you to kick against the goads…" This term is not used of believers.

Devoid Of The Spirit (Jude 1:19) - refers to false teachers who joined into Christian groups and created division leading people away to their own groups. These are probably not even believers to start with.

This is difficult verse to translate. It refers to friendship with the world, which is seen as spiritual adultery and makes the Spirit jealous. The world system and the Kingdom are opposites. To love one is to make the other jealous and if we love the world (as in worldliness, not as in John 3:16) we enrage the Holy Spirit. Worldliness is often characteristic of carnal Christians and does great damage to their relationship with God.

The emotional consequences of sinning against the Holy Spirit are dire indeed. The more people sin against the Holy Spirit the nastier they become. In the above verses we see them pilfering, murdering, lying, fighting and quarreling. As the Holy Spirit is quenched, grieved and resisted His love departs and hatred enters in.


How does this come about? A love of worldly things, a growing resentment, anger and malice, a dislike of prophecy and revivals, a little dishonesty with finances here and there and after a while the activity of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is reduced to a whisper. As they head out the back door of the faith they deliver the final insult by rejecting the value of Jesus whom the Spirit bears witness to.


In answer to our question, “What is the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the carnal Christian?” the relationship is one of struggle and pain. The Spirit is grieved, made jealous, quenched and resisted. He seeks to bring the carnal believer to a point of repentance and to cooperation with God. However, in the words of the famous Campus Crusade booklet  “How to Be Filled With The Holy Spirit” (which I thoroughly recommend),  “self is on the throne”. The carnal Christian is a “me first” Christian led by their own desires, and seeking their own interests and having their own agenda. Christ may be in their life but He is not being allowed to fully direct their lives. The struggle with the Holy Spirit will only end for them when they abdicate from their throne, and instead decide to place Christ on the throne, obey His commandments and be led by the Spirit, not by their own desires. If you think that this may apply to you why don’t you consider praying a prayer somewhat like the following:

Lord, I am sorry that I have put self on the throne and run my life according to my own desires rather than according to Your will. I repent of this and ask that Christ may be on the throne and in the control room of my life, and that I may be ruled by His desires, and by the Holy Spirit. I ask that You may fill me with the Holy Spirit and produce in me a soft and obedient heart. In Jesus name. Amen”.


The Low Biblical EQ Of Carnal Christians

The poor control carnal Christians have over their emotional life is due to their lack of co-operation with the Holy Spirit and can be seen in:

Poor Impulse Control:  Giving in to sexual immorality, drunkenness and even in the disorder of their worship.

Poor Anger Management: Most notably the congregation that James wrote to which were murdering each other (James 4:2) and the Galatians which were "biting and devouring" each other (Galatians 5:15).

Disintegrating Relationships: Envying, factions, strife and contentions ( 1 Corinthians 3:3).

Low Levels of Personal Motivation: They are variously described as evil beasts and lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12-14) , neglectful, dull of hearing, and  in danger of drifting.

Instability: Following after "the latest" false teachers particularly if they were good talkers and emotionally persuasive  (2 Corinthians 11) and being tossed around by every wind of doctrine.

Lack of Basic Empathy and Compassion: Such as saying to a person who was without food or shelter "be warm and filled" and not doing anything to help or dishonoring the poor by making them sit in lowly places in church (James 2).


A Toxic Tongue: Gossip, slander, and the like that proceeds from out of control emotions (James 3).

A Poisonous Personality: Such people are described as a "root of bitterness that defiles many" or like the emotionally rigid Diotrephes who "like to put himself first" and controlled the church (3 John).


The Obvious Conclusion

So we see that our model for Biblical EQ predicts accurately the disastrous perceptions, beliefs, actions and reactions of people who are carnal Christians.  We see that the process we have outlined accurately predicts good and holy emotions for those filled with the Spirit and negative and hateful emotions for those who resist and grieve the Spirit. This leads to two conclusions. Firstly, that our model seems to fit the biblical data and probably does describe the process of emotional development and expression. More importantly it leads to the conclusion that the single most important factor in a high biblical EQ is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the cooperating and Spirit-filled believer. Those most full of the Spirit are grand beings of deep emotional authenticity. Christians that grieve the Spirit are emotional wrecks.


However, believers do not neatly fall into two camps, one with wonderful emotions and the other with sharp, brittle and unstable emotions. That is because we start at different points. Some Spirit-filled believers from emotionally difficult backgrounds may have a lot of learning and growing to do with respect to their emotions, but they are going in the right direction. In time, providing they remain close to God, they will learn and grow and become more Christ-like in their emotions. This seems to have been very much the case with Paul who went from being very abrasive in his early years to very gracious in later life. On the other hand some very worldly and carnal Christians are squandering a wonderful emotional inheritance from a loving Christian family. They seem emotionally together but in time, slowly but surely, emotional disintegration sets in and generally becomes obvious by late middle age.


 What About Non-Believers?

What does our model say about non-believers? Generally, non-believers are neither cooperating with nor resisting the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus the emotional life of non-believers should be normally distributed (that is “on a bell curve”) around a central mean that is less than the emotional mean of Spirit-filled Christians but perhaps not as low as that of truly carnal Christians. Since the Spirit does not indwell unbelievers, the great inner work of the Spirit is not there and the upper reaches of the Christian life are unavailable to them. For instance, they are generally not able to love their enemies. While they may be very decent and loving people they will generally not have the tremendous power and life that being like Christ produces. This deep pulsating joy is almost exclusively a work of God in the regenerate believer. Thus our model is not destroyed by the fact of the occasional good non-Christian.


It needs to be also said that God has His prevenient and common grace and the Holy Spirit will give some external aid to anyone who seeks to live a good, decent and loving life and encourages Jews, Buddhists, humanists and existentialists alike to be decent human beings. In such people many Christian values will be found in the belief system that undergirds their emotional life. Such people who are seeking good, but have not yet found Christ may well be emotionally together as they are cooperating with God in a stumbling sort of way. However the deep transformational power of the Holy Spirit may well be lacking.


The Conclusion

1.        The five-step model accurately predicts the emotional state of

both saintly Christians and carnal Christians.

2.       Emotional authenticity is entirely a work of the Holy Spirit .

However, it can occur to some extent in non-believers who seek it as a work of common grace. More commonly it is found in Spirit-filled believers who are walking in holiness.

3.       Emotional functionality and authenticity come about through the

person cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He forms spiritual perspectives and a Christ-like belief system in the person.

4.      Resisting this work of the Holy Spirit results in emotional


5.       Emotionally undeveloped Christians who remain close to God can

grow into emotionally adept people just as it seems Paul did.

6.      Cooperating with God means not grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit and being careful to avoid worldliness.


Is There a Fast Track To a High Biblical EQ?

Obviously being Spirit-filled and obedient is a great place to start for emotional growth. However, Christians can also directly work on their emotions. Information on how to do this has been provided in three ways. Firstly, God has given His Son to show us what holy and true emotions look like. Secondly, He has given us the special revelation in Scripture and their precise description of the emotional life and the inner man. Thirdly, He has given His natural revelation to scientists who so assiduously seek the truth about emotional growth. Combining these together we will find out how to directly achieve emotional growth and a high biblical EQ. That takes us to the next section of this book, the section on the inner self which deals with how emotions are formed within us, and what we can do about it.  This section will give us the knowledge and tools we need to work on our perceptions of reality and our belief systems. We will also learn how to renew them and to produce Christ-like outcomes and godly emotions.


Discussion Questions


1.         What are the emotional consequences for a Christian if they choose not to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit?


2.        What are the sins against the Holy Spirit?


3.        What sort of descriptions does the Bible give of carnal Christians, e.g. “sluggish”?


4.        Read the twelve predictions at the start of the chapter. What impression do they make on you? What does it say about why some churches experience problems?


5.        How important is the Holy Spirit in developing the emotional life of Christians?


6.       Why can some non-Christians be in a better emotional state than some Christians? Can emotionally clumsy Christians ever improve?





(2 Corinthians 4:16 NASB)  Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

Our “inner man” is not constant, but for the Spirit-filled Christian it is being renewed day by day.  This section is about how we can understand and cooperate with that process of  inner renewal. We will look at how emotions arise within the inner being of the Christian, in our spirit, soul and body.  We will look at what forms our emotions and what affects them and how we can introduce constructive change into those processes. We will primarily do this by considering their functions such as perception, belief, and will.  Any explanation of the inner self and our emotions, that comes anywhere near being comprehensive, sane and balanced, will be complex.   After all, we are complex and somewhat incomprehensible beings made in the image of a complex and totally incomprehensible God (Romans 11:28-30). Emotions arise from the depths of our spirit, from our body being over-tired or the affects of illness or medication, and yet others arise from our beliefs and the determinations of our will. We can even have conflicting emotions. The process the Holy Spirit takes within us as He transforms us emotionally is both profoundly simple and infinitely complex. I hope you will consider both realities in the following chapters.




For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV) 


Perception is the first of the five stages of Biblical EQ and by far the most complex, which is why we will spend two chapters looking at it. In this chapter we will look at perception as it flows from our stance toward life, our life perspective, how we see things and how we explain the world to ourselves. These perceptions and explanations later become that from which we form our beliefs, and out of those beliefs will flow our emotions. In the next chapter we will look at perception at its deepest level, in the human spirit, and how it forms the foundations and framework for our personality. In logical order that chapter should precede this chapter but I have chosen to put the simple material first and move you to the more difficult as a better teaching strategy.


How do you suppose the people of Jesus' day would have seen Jerusalem? A tourist may have just seen a dusty city with a beautiful temple in the middle of it. A trader may have seen an economic opportunity. A priest most likely would have seen the religious community and a chance for prominence in the Temple service. An anxious mother would possibly see it as "the big smoke" where her son had gone to find work. Rome saw it as a trouble spot to be kept under tight control. The disciples at this time saw Jerusalem as a dangerous city with Herod and others intent on killing them (Luke 13:30; John 11:16). Jesus saw Jerusalem in terms of its long hostility towards messengers of God:


"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! (35) "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! (Luke 13:34-35 NKJV)    


His unique perspective was one that viewed cities in terms of their spiritual responsiveness and their attitude to the light that they received. Jesus, the apostles and the prophets all had a unique perspective on people, places and events. They saw things differently and viewed reality in spiritual terms. Instead of the world being a chaotic jumble of almost random events it is a place planned by a sovereign and just God. For Jesus the primary reality was not economic but spiritual - how a person, or even a city relates to God .  Spiritual people see life differently. They have deep abiding spiritual perspectives. They perceive reality through an entirely different set of glasses. They see the world “right side up”.


When our perceptions about life are wrong soon all else goes wrong. If we perceive life to be utterly random we will be without hope. If we perceive ourselves to be unlovable we will live alone in the land. If we perceive others to be hostile, when in fact they are friendly, we will needlessly create enemies. In this chapter we shall first look at secular material that explains how our perspective on life is formed. We will also look at some proven secular techniques for correcting common errors and becoming optimistic and functional. Then once we have achieved that we shall then look at how to gain a biblical heavenly perspective and know life and peace.


The correct perspective on life can calm fears, break us out of depression, give us peace and stability, bring joy and hope, give us empathy and compassion and give us the ability to plan wisely and well for our future. First we have to understand how our perspective is created, then we can look at how it can be fully redeemed.


Explaining Reality to Ourselves

A key element in the creation of our perspective is how we explain reality to ourselves. Bit by bit these explanations become our story about the world and how it came to be and why it is the way it is. Soon we start seeing the world the way we have imagined it to be, through the story we have constructed from our explanations of the world.  The psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman has done much research on people’s "explanatory style" and his book, "Learned Optimism", is excellent. Here is my twelve point summary of its basic teachings:

1.       Optimism and power-fulness are the opposites of pessimism

and Helpless-ness.

2.       Optimism and pessimism are learned by experiences in life.

3.       Experiences form beliefs. These beliefs then combine to produce

        outlooks on life.

4.      The beliefs which we draw from experiences can be well-founded or poorly founded depending on how we explained the experience to ourselves.

5.       We can explain things Personally (it’s always our fault) or Externally (it’s something outside)

6.      We can explain things Pervasively (it’s in everything, everywhere) or Specifically (this is just one instance).

7.       We can explain things Permanently (it will always be this way) or Temporarily (it’s just a glitch).

8.      Personal, Pervasive and Permanent explanatory styles produce self-defeating beliefs and a negative outlook.

9.      The negative outlook is reflected in negative self-talk.

10.    The self-defeating beliefs we have formed can be reasoned with and our negative thoughts can be disputed.

11.     Marshalling evidence against self-defeating beliefs and attacking them logically can slowly but surely lead to a more optimistic outlook.

12.    Sometimes you can “externalize” the belief by writing the thought down on paper or talking it over with a friend.


Martin Seligman then goes on to show how we can dispute our wrong perspective and learn to be optimistic by writing down our thoughts and looking at them logically and in the light of the three P's - Personal, Pervasive and Permanent. According to Seligman’s research, optimists are healthier and have better lives than pessimists. But oddly enough pessimists tend to be more accurate! Pessimists are right in their conclusions but wrong in their living. They are unhappy, unsuccessful and unhealthy. The three key ways pessimists defeat themselves is through their explanatory style - see points 5-8 above. For instance the way we explain things to ourselves will determine how quickly we recover from minor incidents. If I have an argument with a friend and then think "I am terrible at relationships, I will always have arguments with everyone I meet, I'm just a total loser" then I will be unhappy and I may stay unhappy for a while. On the other hand if after the argument I say "I think I was overtired, I'll get over this and have a better day tomorrow, I don't always blow up at people" then I will be much happier and recover more quickly.


Faith Application

Christians have explanatory styles too that determine their faith level, their happiness and their joy. Explanations can vary from "God is punishing me and will always punish me because I am so wicked" to "The Devil made me do it." We have a habitual faith perspective on life and just like the pessimists in Seligman's research we can be re-educated to a more functional and liberating explanatory style and faith perspective.  This is a three-stage process:


Stage One: Acknowledging that our spiritual explanatory style is in need of major repair.

Stage Two: Finding out exactly where it needs to be corrected and

Stage Three:  The job of repairing it.


Is Your Explanatory Style In Need of Repair?

Try the following consciousness raising quiz. It’s not a  psychological test, just a series of questions to help you become aware of the way you explain events to yourself. It is just a simple diagnostic tool to help you realize what you are thinking so you can correct it. Please be honest.

Answer the following questions by putting the numbers 0 to 4 in the corresponding lines as follows:

0 -   I never think that way.

1 -    I sometimes think that way.

2 -   I think that way a fair amount of time but not often.

3 -   I frequently think that way.

4 -   I always think that way.


There are fifty questions in two sections Personal Explanations (20) & Spiritual Explanations (30) and unlike many tests they are deliberately arranged so as to make the patterns obvious so you can see how you are thinking. The areas being examined include the three P's -  Permanent, Personal and Pervasive and a factor called "locus of control" which looks at who or what you see as being in control - yourself, God, other people, luck or the Devil. The theological section also looks at these but adds questions testing our trust in God and our belief in His goodness and our faith in His Word as part of our spiritual explanatory style.

Personal Explanations


___                After making a mistake I tend to think "this is the end".

___                I feel as if I will never change.

___                If you are a success you stay successful. If you are a failure you are always a loser.

___                Nothing can be done about society, it is bound to go downhill forever.

___                You never recover from bankruptcy.


Locus Of Control

___                I believe you need a lot of luck to succeed in life. Success is mainly random.

___                The world is unpredictable, chaotic and confusing so it’s not worth trying too hard to do anything big. It will probably just be messed up.

___                Other people make me react. My emotions are not under my control.

___                I can't do anything about the Government.

___                If I win at anything it is because the other people do not try hard.



___                Evil is everywhere and here to stay. All people and systems are ruined by it.

___                My entire personality is dysfunctional.

___                I am basically bad and if people really got to know me they would despise me or hate me.

___                I am frequently suspicious of other people and their evil motives.

___                All politicians are corrupt.



___                I find failure depressing because it reflects on who I am.

___                The reason I make mistakes is because I cannot do anything right.

___                When people are late for an appointment and say it was the traffic they are just lying to me. It actually means that I am unimportant to them.

___                When someone fails to return a phone call I think they are rejecting me.

___                If I fail an exam it means that I am stupid.


Now add up your score in each section:

Permanence      _____                   Locus of Control_____   

Pervasive            _____                                   Personal                _____

Did you notice any patterns emerging? Where were your highest scores?


Spiritual Explanations


___        My habitual sins are there for life.

___        You can't change the world. It will always be this way.

___        It is easy to sin or mistakenly miss God's will and the results are life-long.

___        I am what God has made me to be and I cannot change.

___        It’s all over, I'm washed up, I've totally failed God. This is the end.


Locus of Control

___        Things go wrong because God is not really in charge of my life.

___        Satan is very powerful and in charge of this physical world and much of my circumstances.

___        I must save the world, the job just cannot be done without me.

___        I am not responsible for my actions. The Devil makes me sin.

___        Of course I have to panic in a crisis.  Someone has to do the work and the worrying - namely me!


___        The universe is totally polluted by sin and cannot be enjoyed.

___        Even my prayers are an abomination to God.

___        My life is riddled with inconsistencies. I am hopeless.

___        All denominations are filled with greedy clergy.

___        Theological error is everywhere.


___        My failure to memorize bible verses means that I am totally unspiritual.

___        I haven't led anyone to Jesus so my life has been a total failure.

___        Good events happen to good people and bad events happen to bad people. When bad things happen to me it must be my fault.

___        I experience temptation because I am sinful and wicked.

___        The reason my family isn't saved is because I have been a poor witness.

Transcendent Spiritual Focus

___        Emotional security and happiness is almost impossible if I cannot pay the bills.

___        When I talk about blessing I mainly mean something tangible in this life such as a salary increase or a new car.

___        For me God's approval of me and the pastor's / Christian community's approval of me is almost identical.

___         I am easily devastated by criticism at church.

___        It is a long while since I have prayed fervently and truly expected a major answer.


Goodness of God

___        Bad people get all the good things.

___        Prayer is for prayer warriors, average people don't get their prayers answered.

___        My life is miserable and difficult but I must not strive to change it, I must accept it as character-building punishment for my sins.

___        I fear that if I  obey God  to the maximum He will make me a poverty-stricken missionary in outer Uzbekistan (or similar).

___        The safest thing to do as a Christian is not to expect too much from God.


Now add up your scores in each section:

Permanence ____          Locus of Control ____   Pervasive ____  

Personal ____   Transcendent Spiritual Focus ____ Goodness of God ____

Did you notice any patterns emerging? Where were your highest scores?


NOTE: This  is NOT a clinical test and should not be used as such or employed as a selection tool. This is a consciousness-raising instrument designed to help individuals become aware of their explanatory style and to help them surface a few issues regarding it.


Interpreting the Results

 If you get 10 or more in any one section then you may have a problem in that area. This does NOT mean that you are crazy or dysfunctional. It does mean that like many people it may be worth your while spending some time looking at that perspective on life and working out what emotions it is bringing to you. Does your perspective cause you to feel out of control?  Do you have trouble believing in a consistently good God? Just use the results from the test to alert you to areas you may need to work on. Right perspectives and beliefs provide a firm foundation for emotional health. We will see much more on this in the section on beliefs that follows.


A Dose of Perspective Restorer

When I was in Balimo in the remote Western Province of Papua New Guinea the missionary doctor there, Dr. Kath Donovan, used to talk about “taking a dose of perspective restorer” when things got out of sorts with someone in the mission station. A dose of perspective restorer was often a provocative question or statement that got us to rethink our miseries. In a similar vein here are a few provocative statements and questions that can help you to challenge the dysfunctional perspectives that you have identified as having some influence in your life. I am sure you will quickly get the idea.


Challenging Ideas of  Permanence

·         Are your negative circumstances really permanent or do they just feel permanent?

·         How impossible is impossible? Is anything impossible with God?

·         Haven't you gotten out of difficult situations before? Can't you do it again?

·         Haven't you changed and learned before? Can't you do it again?

·         Hopelessness is never from God. It is a lie and a deception. He is the God of hope.


Challenging Ideas of Low Locus of Control

·         Is there one single thing you CAN do to change things? .

·         Who is in charge, you, other people, the Devil or God ?

·         Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Make your luck by preparing your skills and seeking opportunities.

·         The Devil is not in control. Resist the Devil and he will flee. (James 4:7)

·         You are not God so you don't have to be responsible for everything. However, you do have some responsibilities - fulfill those and let God handle the rest of the universe.


Challenging Ideas of Pervasive Evil

·         You are not totally sinful if you are worried about sinning. Totally sinful people are unconcerned about sinning.

·         Are all politicians corrupt? Was Ghandi corrupt? Was Abraham Lincoln corrupt? Are there really no good churches - not even one? Is absolutely everyone wrong in their theology?

·         Has the redeeming work of Christ accomplished nothing in 2000 years? Has He not created some good in some corner of the world?

·         Is the Devil so powerful that he can ruin everything? Cannot God preserve some things that are good and beautiful? Cannot one wildflower be excellent in beauty?

·         Cannot God make all things beautiful in their time? (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Can He not make you a wonder and a glory? (Romans 8:28-31)


Challenging Ideas That Everything That Goes Wrong Is Your Personal Fault

·         Have you noticed that sometimes you think people are rejecting you when in fact they are just busy or having a bad day? Might you be exaggerating the degree of rejection? Maybe it’s not that bad.

·         Is it really you at fault? Could it just be the circumstances or the other people?

·         When thinking about yourself stop using "absolute" terminology including words such as: must, have to, always, never, and totally. They are rarely true. One mistake does not make you a "total failure".

·         When there is a problem, list those factors you can control and also list those factors that you cannot control.  Leave those outside your control to other people or even to God.  Do not feel personally responsible for things you cannot control. Then feel free to responsibly and wisely tackle those things you can do.

·         Cease seeing yourself as being at the center of the universe with so many things spinning around you. Be content to just be one of God's creatures, a son or daughter with a few assigned tasks to do.


Renewing Transcendent Spiritual Focus

·         We walk by faith, not by sight. Do not let visible things such as bills and criticism be the only reality.

·         Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God (Carey). Read Hebrews 11 and Matthew 6

·         Faith is often "more caught than taught" so hang around people who are full of faith.

·         Have you drifted away from faith? Have you been deeply disappointed with God? Would it help to talk to a good pastor or Christian counselor?

·         Are there genuine concerns about the canon of Scripture, miracles, evolution, etc? Get some material and investigate your doubts and find answers to your genuine intellectual questions.


Believing In The Goodness of God

·         Look at the goodness of God and how He provides for the birds. As a friend of mine says she has "never seen a skinny sparrow". If God is good to sparrows, then how much more good will He do for you!

·         Remember all the Lord has done for you. Make a list of His goodness and remind yourself of the things He has done. Bring to mind His past love of you and remember He never changes! He is faithful!

·         Spend some time in Psalm 23 and Romans 8. Sing hymns, play Christian music.

·         Examine your background for things like deprivation, cruelty and disappointment. Are you projecting your experiences, particularly of your father/parents, onto God? Try and separate the two so that you can see God for all He truly is in His constant lovingkindness and faithfulness. Stand against those lurking feelings from your past and rebuke them in the name of Jesus. Maybe even seek counseling.

·         Move self off center stage. Sometimes we doubt God's goodness because we are demanding a certain thing - a partner, wealth, the return of a divorced spouse, etc. and He has not answered us yet and we are furious that God is not meeting our agenda in our time. The goodness of God is bigger than His meeting a single important demand of yours. Your focus is too narrow. While you wait for your answer to prayer notice how He sends you beautiful days and good friends and daily bread. Cultivate thankfulness for what you DO have instead of focusing on what you do not have.


Coming Up With Your Own Bottle of Perspective Restorer

Cognitive therapists have come up with a general process for giving yourself a dose of perspective restorer. They believe that underneath our difficult emotions are thoughts that fuel those emotions. With every painful incident there is a thought that makes it painful that keeps the pain ongoing, such as “I’ll never get over this, my life is ruined forever”. When those thoughts are corrected the emotions lose their power and can be brought under control. People vary greatly in their underlying thoughts. That is why one person can just laugh something off and another takes it to heart. Underneath person A is the thought 'Oh that was nothing…", underneath person B is the thought "that's so unjust, unfair and horrible..." Our thoughts are under our control and as we change them we can also change the emotions that they produce. For instance, if you change your thoughts from “I’ll never get over this” to “One day I’ll be able to look back on this and laugh” then you create optimism and give power to your life. Most of the thoughts that hurt us deeply are simply not true. In fact if we take a hard look at them they are nearly always illogical.  Self-talk such as “Everybody hates me” is generally not true at all. It’s painful, it’s untrue and it needs to be challenged. Your perspective is your thought on the situation and like any thought you can change it. As you change it you change the emotions that result. So you can heal yourself of many painful emotions just by working out a more truthful, balanced and biblical perspective on life. How can we do this? The five step process below is summarized from the book, "Feeling Good - A New Mood Therapy", by David. M. Burns.


1.        Find a recent incident that caused you some emotional discomfort.

2.       Look at the feeling - name and write down the feeling.

3.       Try to find the underlying thought that produced that feeling, e.g. "I am always stupid".

4.      Dispute the thought with facts, Scripture, logic and common sense until you come up with a more functional perspective on the event.

5.       Write down the new feeling that comes with the new explanation.


Let’s apply this process to a common Christian situation - rejection at the door of the church:

Incident: Rob goes to shake the hand of the pastor after church but the pastor abruptly turns away because he has just caught sight of the church treasurer who wants a check signed. The pastor gives one of those insincere "fake smiles" as he does so. Rob feels discounted and hurt and is depressed and angry. However, Rob realizes he may be over-reacting and thinks maybe a dose of perspective restorer is needed so he gets out his spiritual journal and starts scribbling…


Name the Feeling: Rob writes in his journal - "I feel rejected, hurt, discounted, yes that's the word discounted - like I didn't count, like I don't matter and I have been at that church for five years!"

Find the Underlying Thought: He deliberately discounted me and despite the fact that I have been at that church for five years I was treated like a nobody.

Dispute the Thought: Yes it was inconsiderate and fake but it wasn't that bad. Most of the time he is polite to me and I need not take things so personally. It was a mistake by him but it doesn’t make me valueless or unimportant. I am important whether or not the pastor pays attention to me. God thinks I am important enough to love, save and die for - that's enough for me. I'll go back and try again next week.

Write Down the New Feeling: I feel much more calm and balanced and I am surprised that I over reacted! Boy can I be overly sensitive sometimes. Glad I gave myself a dose of perspective restorer! I will try again next week.


Well that's about as far as the best secular approaches can take us. Cognitive psychotherapy, like the work of Beck, Seligman, Burns, Ellis and many others, is very good and is generally quite compatible with a biblical approach. It offers real relief from emotional pain however it only "goes so far". It cannot open our eyes to spiritual realities nor can it produce the sudden whole-of -person perspective changes that the Holy Spirit and Scripture can. To go deeper still in changing our perspective we must turn to that which is uniquely spiritual and biblical.


The Perspective of Your Soul

There are three “places” in the inner man that can have a perspective on life. Firstly, there is the mind, the rational part of us that we have just discussed and which can be addressed logically. Secondly, there is the perspective of the spirit, how we perceive life in and with the spirit and how prophets see the world. That will be discussed in the next chapter. Thirdly, there is the soul. The soul is the place of life, joy, personhood, subjective judgments, and valuations. Our soul quickened by the spirit is what makes us a living being. The soul is also a place of unruly and temporary emotions of daily frustrations, of falling in love, of the joy of a good meal, a wonderful sunset, the smile at a catchy tune, the sentiments at a movie. It can be a place of tempestuous emotional storms that need to be stilled. The soul can be up one minute and down the next. [In contrast the spirit is a place of grand and timeless emotions, of great joys and piercing sorrows. We shall discuss this in the next chapter.] 

Bringing the stormy world of the soul under control is one of the great tasks of the Christian life and results in what the Bible calls peace. Peace is when the soul is in the state that God wants it to be in. Peace can be brought to the soul, which is subjective, through things such as a sunset or music of which William Congreve said, “Music has charms to sooth the savage breast” and which seemed to work for King Saul. However, such methods are morally neutral and do not form character or do anything much for us in the long run. We need something better. Pure logic does not quite work with the soul to the extent that it does with the mind. For the heart has reasons that the mind never knows.

The law of the soul is the law of likeness. Our souls become like the souls of people we love, admire or emulate or people we respect, see as authoritative, and obey. That is why children become like parents and disciples like their masters. Adoration and authority mold the soul. We become like Jesus through loving and obeying Jesus. Thus I have found four methods to work in bringing peace to the soul and giving it a dose of perspective restorer. Christo-Centric Worship, Self-Exhortation, Positive Confession Of Scripture (in its proper context), and Scripture Memory.


Christo-Centric Worship

Worship, praise and adoration of Jesus mold the soul into a Christ-like shape. Just like a married couple that adore each other become like each other, just like a young lad that adores his father walks like his Dad and talks like his Dad and wants to grow up like his Dad, just like faithful pooch and the grouch owner sometimes look alike, so worship that is focused on Jesus gradually makes us like Him. Worship can also help get our soul’s perspective on life back into line. Here are some extracts from Psalm 73.


Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. (2) But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. (3) For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked…(12) Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches. (13) Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence...(16) When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me; (17) Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. (18) Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. (19) Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors…(21) Thus my heart was grieved, And I was vexed in my mind. (22) I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You….(27) For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. (28) But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works. (Psalms 73 NKJV) 


This Psalm reflects a time of instability and spiritual crisis. The Psalmist says "my feet had almost slipped", "it was too painful for me", "my heart was grieved", "I was like a brute beast before you”. He had lost his spiritual perspective, he was in deep emotional pain, he was envying the wealth and success of the wicked and he thought it was futile to be righteous. He was on the verge of giving up. 


The turning point comes when he enters the temple and in God's presence sees the fate of the wicked as it truly is - precarious. After this the Psalmist confesses his folly and rejoices in God saying "it is good to draw near to God". The act of worship was the critical turning point in the spiritual crisis. By fixing his mind on God, adoring Him and coming into contact with spiritual realities his soul and spirit were healed of the turmoil within and a proper perspective on life returned.


By worshipping God, his own perception of reality was changed in three areas. He changed his perceptions about the world, himself and God. Instead of perceiving the wicked as prospering he now saw them as on the brink of destruction. Instead of seeing his behavior as rational and justified he now saw it as wrong and foolish. Instead of seeing God as not rewarding him he turns and says “surely it is good to draw near to God”. True worship restored the Psalmist to a right perspective on his faith.


True worship works. Idolatry does not work. Idolatry creates emotional catastrophe and the soul becomes darkened, limited, superstitious and unstable. If we worship an idol our soul is lowered to the level of the thing we adore be it a statue, a  rock, a tree or a fast car. So our worship must be of the Living God, in and through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Worship in Spirit and in truth works because we are designed right from Creation to

experience life and peace when our mind is stayed on God and we behold the true God in adoration and become like our Father in Heaven.


Prayer and worship do not need to be in a certain building on a certain day but they do need to be in Spirit and in truth. Certain practices can help us to cultivate an atmosphere of true worship in our daily life. I do not wish to be too prescriptive or legalistic as we do have a great deal of freedom in Christ but no matter how free we are we do need to be stayed on God. My personal practice is to have times of prayer and meditation in the morning and in the evening. I also take “saying grace” quite seriously. I always pray with meals and refocus myself on God. As I work I may have some Christian music playing in the background. I also find great assistance from reading carefully selected high quality Christian books. There are other helpful practices as well but the key is to keep your focus on God. The constant cultivation of the presence of God based on fixing one’s mind on the truth of God and adoring His glorious nature is one of life’s secrets for maintaining a sweet perspective and right perception of life.


I believe there needs to be a greater focus on Jesus Christ not just on doctrine, nor on ethics or even on good Christian psychology. Those ministering from the pulpit in particular should preach Christ crucified and regularly take the congregation to behold Jesus in His life, ministry and inner nature. This is the most powerfully transformational of all preaching because it portrays Christ to our souls most clearly.



The following section is based on an excellent sermon of Dr. Daniel Tappeiner that I had the privilege of hearing while attending the Union Church of Manila. His surprising claim was that you can interact with your soul and instruct it to take on certain emotional states. His text was  Psalm 42  where the Psalmist, a son of Korah, became aware of his emotional state and eventually used self-exhortation to conquer his despondent mood.


A two-stage process is used of a.) questioning the value of the emotion b) then commanding it to change. First the Psalmist questions the value of his present emotional state that was hindering his ability to lead the throng in the worship procession.  "Why are you downcast O my soul”. After that the Psalmist gives his soul a repeated command to change mood and perspective "hope in God…for I shall yet praise Him". This eventually causes him to triumph and function again in ministry.  In other words, the Psalmist did not just accept his dysfunctional emotional state but corrected it by speaking to his soul quite firmly and bringing it to a functional and biblical resolution.


As speaking to yourself or addressing one's soul sounds rather strange and building a whole therapy on one Psalm is a bit tenuous I searched to see if there is any further scriptural validation. I located a number of Bible references where people interact directly with their soul. These interactions include speaking to one’s soul or commanding the soul  to do something. Seven direct references are listed below and there are many more in a similar vein especially in Psalms (quite a few on the familiar theme "bless the Lord O my soul...").


…O my soul, march on in strength! (Judges 5:21 NKJV)

To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. (Psalm 25:1 NKJV) 

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. (5) Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. (6) O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar… Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 42:4-6 NKJV) 

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. (Psalm 62:5 NKJV) 

 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. (implies an attempt to speak to the soul to comfort it and some interaction with the soul…author’s thought) (Psalm 77:2 NKJV) 

Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! (2) Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: (Psalm 103:1-2 NKJV) 

'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."'(Luke 12:19 NKJV) 


So we see that here the soul/self is being commanded to: be strong, be lifted up to God, hope in God, wait silently for God, be comforted,

bless God and lastly (by the rich fool) to take it easy. We are all familiar with talking to ourselves and even with telling ourselves to cheer up. However, Scripture-based self-exhortation is much more powerful.


With Scripture-based self-exhortation you empower yourself to take charge of your emotional state and to command it to change by divine authority. You use authority to mold your soul. When Deborah the prophetess, in Judges 5:21 above, says "O my soul, march on in strength!...” she is not just giving herself a pep talk! She is celebrating a divine victory over Sisera and is maintaining a faith position that the God who gave her victory then will continue to give her victory in the future so that she can progress and "march on" with a confident expectation of God's help and deliverance. Underneath these exhortations lies a deep relationship with God.


Here is the process for changing your perspective by  biblically-based self-exhortation:


1.        Awareness: Become aware of the state of your soul ("why are you downcast").

2.       Questioning: Decide whether it is godly and functional. If it is not godly and functional then don't accept it. Decide that it must be firmly corrected and brought into alignment with the Word of God.

3.       Go Upstairs: Take your soul before the throne of God either directly or in prayer and worship.

4.      Firmly Command the Change: Command your soul to change to a more biblical perspective within the framework of God's will and covenant purposes.

5.       Repeat As Necessary.


Let’s take an everyday case. You feel depressed for no good reason. You just feel lonely and blue and you start questioning the goodness of God. You find yourself becoming out of sorts spiritually and losing your true perspective.


Awareness: "I'm feeling a bit depressed and blue and I’m questioning God".

Questioning:  Is this useful and spiritual? No! It's useless and thinking this way is damaging my relationship with God.

Go Upstairs:  Lord, I come before your throne and I admit that I am out of sorts and depressed and that my soul is not fixed on You as it should be.

Firmly Command the Change: "Soul, why are you this way? Stop it! Turn and focus on God. Rejoice in the Lord always! That’s an order!"


That may seem a little strange and dramatic but believe it or not- it works.  Painful emotion that is off-center and inappropriate, that does not flow from peace, is often an indicator that our soul is not properly tuned into God, not fixed on the Spirit as it should be. This process is just taking your soul back to its right position – that of being stayed on God. Once it is stayed on God then life and peace will flow in accordance with the promises of God in Romans 8:11 and Isaiah 26:3.  Let’s take another example, this time with the common and very painful problem of feelings of inferiority:


Awareness: "I am feeling inferior and the pain is intense".

Questioning: "Why am I feeling inferior?" There is no good reason in the here and now for me to feel inferior, it’s just messing up my emotions and spilling over into my relationships. I can see that it’s just a hangover from the past. I can also see that it is not relevant today, it is not true today and it is not functional today".

Go Upstairs: O Lord I come before You now. I know that this inferiority is a lie and that you love me but just now it feels very, very true. Bring to mind Your Word and Your truth so I can stay my mind on You. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). God does not condemn me and He is the only true judge. In fact He regards me as His son! Some people may think that I am inferior to them and I may even be not as good looking or important or powerful as they are but that does not make me inferior in my soul, in my inner self, in my true self. I have received the grace of  God, I am seated in heavenly realms with Christ Jesus.  God has chosen to display me as a trophy of grace (Matthew 11:11-13; Ephesians 2:6; 1:20; 1 Corinthians 6:1-3). I am not inferior! I am in the Kingdom of God! I will rule with Jesus (Revelation 2). Praise the Lord.

Firmly Command the Change: Now listen to God, O my soul! Listen to His word and stop your lying and grumbling. Stop telling me I am unworthy. It’s not true. Soul I instruct you to believe the truth of the gospel and to hope in God and I instruct you to

believe in the righteousness you have received. Because you have received righteousness you are righteous and since you are righteous you are not inferior! Believe in God and rejoice!


This is not just a mental exercise it’s spiritually taking hold of one’s self and changing one’s orientation in life.  The person stands outside themselves and their pain and their circumstances and makes a faith decision about what they will believe and how they will feel. They then decide to enforce their faith decision by referring to God’s Word and applying the full strength of their will. Thus the above process moves the person from pain to peace by almost forcing their soul to accept the truth of God’s Word. Dr. Daniel Tappeiner recommends walking around as you do this, saying it out loud and with energy. It seems to take energy to move an out-of-balance soul back into balance. Now I know that this may sounds a bit weird but all I ask is that you try it in private and see how it goes for you. It does work, even if it is unconventional. Taking yourself in hand (in a scriptural way) is good for you.


Positive Confession of Scripture In Its Proper Context

With this method we correct an out of balance perspective by again using the authority of the Scriptures. In this case we vigorously and repeatedly assert out loud the truth of Scripture in context. As we do this we are fixing our mind on God and bringing peace to our soul. Unfortunately, some have taken this practice to foolish and materialistic extremes. They confess Scripture like a magic amulet to bring good fortune. Let’s leave that version of this practice well behind and focus on how to use positive confession in a way that brings emotional transformation.


So here is how to engage in bible based positive confession:

·         Acknowledge the problem.

·         Search the Bible and find appropriate and in context Scriptures.

·         Repeat them out loud declaring them to be true.


Let’s just look at how we can use the positive confession of Scripture to deal with an inappropriate and overly anxious life perspective - that of the chronic worrier.


Stage One: Acknowledge the problem “Lord I have a problem with worrying, I worry over every little thing.”


Stage Two: Do your research and find out what the Scriptures say about worrying:


(Psalms 37:7-8 NKJV)  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. {8} Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it only causes harm.

(Proverbs 12:25 NKJV)  Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.

(Matthew 6:25 NKJV)  "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? ….."Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? {28} "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;…. "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' …. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

(Matthew 8:26 NKJV)  But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

(Matthew 10:19 NKJV)  "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;

(Luke 10:41 NKJV)  And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

(Philippians 4:6 NKJV)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;


Stage Three: Turn this into a positive confession or self-exhortation by quoting the Scriptures or   rephrasing it in our own words and applying it directly to our life and circumstances.:



Repetition and will-power are the keys to positive confession as it is with the following technique of Scripture Memory. You are deliberately willing your self to grasp the truths of God and “dinning it into yourself”. In a way it is a humble thing to do because you are acknowledging your own unruly nature and the necessity of taking hold of it almost “by force” and submitting it to the truth of God’s Word. This acknowledgement of a problem, the biblical research, the humility and wisdom to take one’s nature in hand and the power of being focused on the truths of God make in context confession of Scripture a very powerful tool for correction of our perspective and renewal of our perceptions.


Scripture Memory

Scripture memory is a way we can fix our minds on the truths of God’s Word until it “sticks” and is memorized. In the process it develops personal discipline! Scripture memory can make a very useful contribution to having a renewed mind, an informed soul and a more stable emotional life. It is also a valuable perspective restorer and well-memorized verses can be helpful all through one's lifetime. Navigators and other organizations produce Scripture memory flash cards that are quite helpful.


Concluding The Chapter

We have seen that our perceptions of reality, and our perspective on life, have a lot to do with how we react emotionally. We can restore a more functional and godly perspective through changing the explanatory style that builds up our view of events and how life works. We can also change the way we perceive life by correcting the wrong beliefs that underlie painful emotions. On a deeper level we can change the perception of our soul and its stance on life by bringing it into line so it is fixed on God through bible based self-exhortation, Christo-centric worship, positive confession and Scripture memory. As we do these things we will find that our emotions are more constant and more godly and that we experience more and more life and peace and less and less depression and anxiety. We will be stayed on God with our mind set on the Spirit with all the blessings this brings. But there is a deeper perception - spiritual perception - and we will deal with that in the next chapter.


Discussion Questions


1.         What was Jesus’ perspective on Jerusalem? How did it differ from that of other people?


2.        How important is having the right perceptions and the right perspective on life?


3.        What are the ‘three P’s” of our explanatory style and how do they affect us emotionally?


4.        How can we get the biblical and the eternal to be part of our life perspective so that it even changes the way we view reality (as it did for Jesus) ?


5.        Do you sometimes find yourself challenging the goodness of God? What happens to you emotionally when you do that?


6.       List three techniques for fixing your perspective on life? Which one do you like the most?


Perception - In And By The Spirit

(Mark 2:8 NKJV)  But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?

(Acts 17:16 NKJV)  Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.


The spirit is the place of intuition, dreams, visions and revelation and of the deepest intimacy and the most direct kind of knowledge. It is the deepest part of our humanity and it is the place where we "know that we know..".  The primary functions of the spirit are wisdom and perception and knowledge.


The Bible often talks about our spiritual eyes and ears and of people's ability or inability to perceive spiritual things. The spiritual man of 1 Corinthians 2:10-16  is the person who is most at home perceiving things spiritually and accurately. In a few places the NT makes the seemingly strange assertion that it would be a good idea if all Christians were prophets. What it most probably means is that all Christians are to become people of accurate spiritual perception and have a deep intuition of spiritual reality.


[This includes sensing what is God's will in the immediate situation like the New Testament prophet Agabus did (Acts 11:28, 21:11,12). The considerable difference between OT prophets and NT prophets is well brought out by the systematic theologian Wayne Grudem in his book "The Gift Of Prophecy". Again I will just refer the interested reader to this work and move on.]


What is clear is that Christians are to move from a place of very obscure spiritual perception prior to conversion to a place of abundant and accurate spiritual perception.


Prior to conversion – darkness:

(1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.


(2 Corinthians 3:13-16 NKJV)  unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. {14} But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. {15} But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. {16} Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.


(2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV)  But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, {4} whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.


(Ephesians 4:18 NKJV)  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;


After conversion  - universal and abundant spiritual revelation:


(Hebrews 8:10-12 NKJV)  "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. {11} "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. {12} "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."


(1 John 2:20 NKJV)  But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.


(1 John 2:27 NKJV)  But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.


(Acts 2:16-18 NKJV)  "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: {17} 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. {18} And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.


(1 Corinthians 14:31 NKJV)  For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.


This is truly a vast transition in our nature. We go from being spiritually blind and without understanding, to being able to sense spiritual realities and both understand and enjoy them. We may even sense them so keenly that we are able to edify the Church.  A whole new way of seeing things is opened up. This is variously called "being quickened in spirit", "having the eyes of your heart enlightened." or having one's spiritual eyes and ears “opened” to spiritual reality. This work of the Holy Spirit that is quite independent of human intellect (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1-4 ). Some very intelligent people are spiritually blind while some simple folk grasp the things of the Kingdom. Jesus rejoiced in seeing simple people grasping great spiritual realities by faith alone and being obviously taught by God.


(Matthew 11:25 NKJV)  At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.


(Matthew 16:17 NKJV)  Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.


Thus true spiritual perception which gives poise and balance to life and underlies true emotional stability is a gift of God. While spiritual perception is a sovereign work of God it can also be gained through prayer (James 1:5-8) and Paul prays for spiritual insight to be granted to Christians in many of the famous prayers in his epistles.


(Ephesians 1:18 NKJV)  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,


(Philippians 1:9 NKJV)  And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,


 (Colossians 1:9 NKJV)  For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;


(Colossians 2:2 NKJV)  that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,


He asks for "all wisdom and spiritual understanding" for the Colossians and goes on His knees for it. The first place the biblical exegete must start is on his or her knees asking the Lord to break open the word of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Commentaries have their place but they are ineffective if the ability to perceive spiritual things is not there to start with.


Spiritual Sensitivity and EQ

Well what has spiritual sensitivity got to do with our emotions and our biblical EQ?:


1.        Spiritual sensitivity opens our eyes to God’s love and thus allows us to be solidly grounded as persons..

 (Ephesians 3:16-19 NKJV)  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, {17} that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, {18} may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; {19} to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 To be so able to perceive the love of Christ that we are rooted and grounded in love and even filled up to all the fullness of God (that stretches the mind, O God make it come true!) must be the ultimate in emotional stability.

2.       Spiritual perception gives us the right spiritual passions such as Jesus beholding Jerusalem and seeing it with his spirit ,and reacting with compassion. With right spiritual perception we see the lost, our church and our city and our nation through the eyes of Jesus Christ. We will experience the vast range of spiritual emotions from weeping over the lost to indignation over cruelty and hardness of heart. Whatever our emotion - it will be the Spirit's emotion based on the Spirit's perception of that situation.

3.       Spiritual sensitivity allows us to be grounded in faith and in the spiritual realm not on sight and human reason and sentiment alone. (For we walk by faith not by sight.) Moses was able be steadfast in the face of threats from a tyrannical Pharaoh because of his special spiritual perception. Hebrews 11:27 NKJV)  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. Just as Moses did not fear the Pharaoh and all the pursuing chariots of Egypt because he could "see Him who is invisible" so spiritual perception allows us to discern situations so that fear and anxiety is removed from them. Under pressure and trials we still see the Presence of an all-loving God. A God who is working all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28).

4.      Occasionally people of high spiritual sensitivity will be granted a revelation that turns the whole situation around and has an effect not just on their emotions but the emotions of all involved. For instance Paul's revelation from God during the storm at sea:

(Acts 27:19-26 NKJV)  On the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands. {20} Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up….. {22} "And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. {23} "For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, {24} "saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.' {25} "Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. {26} "However, we must run aground on a certain island."…. (Acts 27:33-36 NKJV)  And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. {34} "Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you." {35} And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. {36} Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves.

The situation in verses 19 & 20 is such utter despair that "all hope that we would be saved was given up". Then in verse 22 an angel appears with a revelation from God to spiritually sensitive Paul. Paul's faith in this revelation caused him to be able to encourage others so they ate, acted appropriately during the crisis and had hope. Thus Paul's openness to the spiritual realm made him able to receive a revelation that had a profound effect on the lives of all aboard.


Errors in Spiritual Perception And Their Effect On A Christian's Emotional Life

I discussing errors in perception am not talking about errors in doctrine - that will be covered in the chapter on beliefs. This chapter is on perception, viewpoints, world-view, perspectives etc. that underlie our beliefs. For instance errors in spiritual perception include blindness - but the resultant beliefs of such blindness are varied. If you are blind to God and His salvation through Christ, then false beliefs of all shapes and sizes, can arise in the darkness within you. Thus the disorder of perception lays the foundation for the disorder in belief. In this section we will deal with what happens when our human spirit goes awry and how this distorts our whole perspective on life.


Inability To Perceive The Obvious:  This is called " a spirit of stupor" and implies that the hearers are dull to the point of senselessness to spiritual thing. Those addressed in the epistle to the Hebrews were called "dull of hearing" and the synagogue Jews were warned by Paul:


(Acts 28:25-28 NKJV) …"The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, {26} "saying, 'Go to this people and say: "Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; {27} For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them."' {28} "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!"


(Romans 11:8 NKJV)  Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day."


People in the "spirit of stupor" fail to "get it". They live life with practically no true spiritual awareness though they may be outwardly religious. If they are religious they tend to be stubborn and quite rejecting of anyone who has genuine spiritual experience.  Emotionally they are at ground zero with a purely human perspective on life.


Paying Attention To Deceptive Spirits: Just as the Holy Spirit is our Teacher , Satan is our deceiver! Spirits can and do tell lies and Christians who pay attention to them can become unstable both spiritually and emotionally and be drawn away from the faith.


(1 Timothy 4:1-2 NKJV)  Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, {2} speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,


(2 Corinthians 11:4 NKJV)  For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted; you may well put up with it!


(Matthew 24:4-13 NKJV)  And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. {5} "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. …{11} "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. {12} "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. {13} "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.


(2 Thessalonians 2:3-13 NKJV)  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, {4} who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. …{9} The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, {10} and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. {11} And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, {12} that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.


(Revelation 16:13-14 NKJV)  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. {14} For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.


Spiritual deception involves an opposite kind of error to hardness of heart. Those who are hard of heart miss seeing the good while those who are spiritually deceived miss seeing the evil.  The carnal nature of false teachers, their lies, immorality and lust for money is overlooked. The deceived person does not love the truth and does not really seek it. (2 Thessalonians 2:10,11). Rather they pursue signs and wonders and good feelings. The promises of wealth and freedom mean more to them than finding out the truth about God and His Son Jesus Christ.  They do not stop and look at the leader’s character , the fruit on the tree, and instead they follow wolves in sheep's clothing. (see Matthew 7, John 10, Acts 20 and 2 Peter). Those who are deceived in turn deceive others becoming increasingly unstable. They are described as "clouds" and  "tossed to and fro" even downright bad "with eyes full of adultery.." (see 2 Peter 2:12 and following for some colorful descriptions)  The cure for spiritual deception is to know and love God's Word, pursue truth, check basic doctrine and character and to test the spirits as in 1 John 4:1-5.


Spiritual Inflation

This term “spiritual inflation” was coined by Carl Jung but has good biblical antecedents. It describes the overpowering effect of suddenly encountering the spiritual realm on certain individuals who had generally not encountered much of the spiritual realm previously. Lacking a proper grounding in their inner being for spiritual things they become totally carried away with notions of spirituality. They almost seem to blow up like balloon, becoming  overly obsessed with "being spiritual", and are often grandiose, clamorous, and frequently pompous. Their utterances, which they esteem as being of great value, are generally of dubious worth. An elegant and brief description is found in Colossians of people who are "puffed up". (In other words "inflated"!). They are wordy but powerless. Saying they know more of Christ, they are actually completely out of touch with Him. completely! They place their faith in "what they know" about spiritual things – which, according to Paul, indicates they actually know nothing at all. For it is not knowledge that justifies but faith working through love. Not infrequently they are also licentious in their morality. The Corinthians also seem to also have had a problem with spiritual inflation and were overly confident in their knowledge of spiritual things.


(Colossians 2:17-19 NKJV) {18} Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, {19} and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.


(1 Corinthians 4:17-20 NKJV) {19} But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. {20} For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.


(1 Corinthians 5:1-2 NKJV)  It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife! {2} And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.


(1 Corinthians 8:1-2 NKJV)  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.


Being Spiritually Enslaved To Rules And Regulations:  This is known as a spirit of bondage and slavery:


(Romans 8:15 NKJV)  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."


(Galatians 4:6-11 NKJV)  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" {7} Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.  {8} But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. {9} But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? {10} You observe days and months and seasons and years. {11} I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.


The spirit of bondage is characterized by a desire to observe "days and months and seasons and years" to take on aspects of the Law such as circumcision and to be much concerned with dietary regulations and minor laws such as the Sabbath. (Also see Colossians 2 and 1 Timothy 4 as well as all of Galatians). This produces a sanctimonious rigidity. It also produces fear , "the spirit of bondage again to fear…" and a terror of trespassing in even quite minor matters. This fear can be tremendously destabilizing and in my experience full-blown phobias are not uncommon in children from legalistic backgrounds. It is seen at its worst in victims of mind-control cults where flashbacks occur. In people recovering from spiritual abuse and coming out of the "spirit of bondage" quite biblical levels of freedom may feel sinful at first. They nearly always have bouts of fear over "breaking a rule" no matter how innocent - such as going to a G-rated family movie if all movies were previously "of the devil".


A Spirit That Lacks Courage And Assertiveness:  Paul calls this is "spirit of fear" and it is counteracted by stirring up the Spirit within you and praying for boldness as the church did in Acts 4. It seems to be most common when there is real danger and persecution and the temptation is to go easy on preaching the gospel. Emotionally it produces the desire to back out of God's clear calling on one's life and is a perspective of 'safety first".


(2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.


(Acts 4:29-31NKJV)  "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, {30} "by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." {31} And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.


Timidity seems to have been Timothy's affliction and he is told at various times to "stir up" the gift that was in him, not to let people despise him, not to be fearful, to suffer hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus and so forth. This exhortation seems to have worked because Timothy was there through the last, and according to Hebrews even endured a bout of imprisonment himself.


Other Spiritual Errors

Below are 22 references to the human spirit going "out of true" .In each of them the person's perspective on life is deeply affected by their spiritual affliction. In some cases a spirit of jealousy,  in others of ill-will. Others feel that they are poisoned in their spirit and bitterness colors their world. Some references seem to be what we would call "moods" and some would hesitate to attribute them to a spiritual cause. But the ancient Greeks - who invented the term "mood" thought of moods as inspired and as the work of the spiritual realm. They would even call on certain spirits when certain moods were desired (see Theocritus "Idylls"). Moods resemble spirits in that moods tend to come over us unbidden, dominate us for a while then leave suddenly. There is thus some spiritual tie up between the human spirit and moods, and that connection sometimes comes across in these verses. The human spirit is complex and interacts with the person, with God and with the various entities in the whole spiritual realm. [I will again duck and weave around the verses below that mention the Lord sending an evil spirit on someone and just say "Go look up a commentary!". ]The point I want you to get is that our emotions can flow from our human spirit which can go out of balance due to a wide variety of factors (we will see four main ones) and that many of these discordant emotions are grounded in our spiritual perspectives and out of balance perceptions.


1.         A Spirit of Jealousy: (Numbers 5:14 NKJV)  'if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she has not defiled herself;


2.        A Hardened And Obstinate Spirit: (Deuteronomy 2:30 NKJV)  "But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand, as it is this day.


3.        A Spirit Of Ill-Will: (Judges 9:23 NKJV)  God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,


4.        A Sorrowful Spirit: (1 Samuel 1:15 NKJV)  And Hannah answered and said, "No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.


5.        A Distressing Spirit : (1 Samuel 16:14-16 NKJV)  But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him. {15} And Saul's servants said to him, "Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. {16} "Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well."… And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.


6.       A Sullen Spirit: (1 Kings 21:5 NKJV)  But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?"


7.        A Poisoned Spirit : (Job 6:4 NKJV)  For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; My spirit drinks in their poison; The terrors of God are arrayed against me.


8.       An Anguished Spirit: (Job 7:11 NKJV)  "Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.


9.       A Spirit Turned Against God: (Job 15:13 NKJV)  That you turn your spirit against God, And let such words go out of your mouth?


10.     A Broken Spirit: (Job 17:1 NKJV)  "My spirit is broken, My days are extinguished, The grave is ready for me.


11.       A Hasty And Compelling Spirit: (Job 32:18 NKJV)  For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me.


12.      An Unfaithful Spirit: (Psalms 78:8 NKJV)  And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.


13.      A Spirit That Is Overwhelmed By Troubles:(Psalms 142:3 NKJV)  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk They have secretly set a snare for me.


14.      A Failing Spirit: (Psalms 143:7 NKJV)  Answer me speedily, O LORD; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.


15.      A Haughty Spirit: (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV)  Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.


16.     An Uncontrolled Spirit: (Proverbs 25:28 NKJV)  Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.


17.      A Perverse Spirit: (Isaiah 19:14 NKJV)  The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst; And they have caused Egypt to err in all her work, As a drunken man staggers in his vomit.


18.     A Spirit Of Deep Sleep: (Isaiah 29:10 NKJV)  For the LORD has poured out on you The spirit of deep sleep, And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.


19.     An Errant Spirit: (Isaiah 29:24 NKJV)  These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine."


20.    A Spirit of Heaviness: (Isaiah 61:3 NKJV)  To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."


21.      A Grieved Spirit: (Isaiah 65:14 NKJV)  Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, But you shall cry for sorrow of heart, And wail for grief of spirit.


22.     A Merely Human Spirit: (Ezekiel 13:3 NKJV)  Thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!


This biblical data may be uncomfortable for many from overly rational backgrounds. However the realm of the human spirit needs to be explored if we are to understand the human person. After all our spirit is the deepest part of us. Without getting lost in all the details lets see if we can draw out a handful of general principles:


·         The human spirit has a vast emotional range. It is not a cool, analytical, emotionless part of the human person. In fact the spirit generates the deepest and most powerful emotions we know.

·         A person's fundamental outlook on life flows from their spirit and when the spirit is affected this affects the actions of the whole person.

·         The spirit is vulnerable and can be damaged. Traumatic life circumstances and intense suffering can break the spirit or cause it to be overwhelmed.

·         The person has some degree of control over their spirit, and this is a good and desirable thing. A person who lacks control over their spirit has trouble with maintaining proper boundaries. (Proverbs 25:28)

·         The human spiritual realm is subject to change. Moods seem to be linked to a temporary state of the human spirit. 

·         God can cause both positive and negative changes in the human spirit.  In Isaiah from a spirit of heaviness is changed into a garment of praise. In the case of King Saul he moves from being anointed with the Holy Spirit to being tormented by a distressing spirit.


The Four Causes Of  Problems With The Human Spirit

To mine the biblical data above a bit further I have found the above list of spiritual problems can be put into four fundamental categories based on what causes them. The four main causes of problems with the human spirit are – sin, folly, trauma and spiritual attack. Each of these can affect our most basic perceptions of ourselves, life, others and God and lead to emotional discordance. By understanding these four causes we will be able to frame a wise and appropriate response as we minister the grace of God.


Problems Caused By Sin

Firstly there are those spiritual problems based on  sin - such as the "haughty spirit" described above which flows from the sin of pride, and affects our perceptions of others. The others in this category is “a spirit turned against God”, which flows from the sin of rebellion, and affects our perception of God.

All of us sin but this is different. This is much deeper. Here the sin has got right down to the deepest level of the personality and gained a stronghold. In these cases the human spirit itself has been captured or defiled by a particular sin. Pride or rebellion has become deeply ingrained in the person’s nature and now affects their entire outlook on life. When our own inner spirit has become allied with either of these sins the only cure is deep repentance, confession and restoration. God repeatedly engineers painful circumstances in our lives until we realize the great hold such sins can have on us.

A third and special case of this is where the sin is the sin of unbelief concerning Christ in which case repentance and faith leads to conversion. Christian approaches that are repentance based and helpful here include: Jay E. Adams' Nouthetic Counseling, and  Alcoholics Anonymous.


Indications Of When Sin Has Deeply Affected The Human Spirit :


Dealing With Sins Of The Spirit:

The course here is fairly well known. Awaken the person to their sin, then ask them to repent from their sin and to confess it to God and to make restoration where practical. Repentance involves a turning around from the wrong behavior or attitude to the right behavior or attitude.


(Isaiah 55:7 NKJV)  Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.


Wrong ways are to be forsaken and an unrighteous thought life is to be put aside.  Sin is not just confessed, it is also left behind.  Awakening the person to their sin may be a difficult process and may even require some confrontation by the elders of the church. This should not be done lightly and the proper procedure is outlined in Matthew 18.15-20. The seriousness with which the apostle Paul took church discipline and its severity is almost unknown in the modern church (see 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 12 & 13).  Above all pray that the Holy Spirit will help you help the sinner and will provide both the conviction of sin and the grace and power for change.


Problems Caused By Folly

Secondly there are those spiritual problems based on folly in the human spirit. This is an abiding disposition of foolishness rather than just a one-off mistake. People characterized by folly in their human spirit demonstrate a nature lacking in personal insight and basic wisdom. They are unbalanced and unwise and unable to rightly judge themselves or others. A foolish person lacks wisdom in one or more key areas of their life and makes the same mistakes over and over again. They are frequently stubborn and unteachable and education is of little avail until the errant spirit is fixed.

They seem to need discipline combined with a sudden transforming work of God that corrects the spiritual damage at the root of their folly. Once the error in their spirit is corrected and wisdom flows a whole major aspect of their character can instantly change. There is frequently a moment of realization when light dawns and they say "how could I have been so dumb!". Among them are those having an errant spirit, a perverse spirit, a hasty spirit, a sullen spirit, and an inappropriate spirit of jealousy as described in the bible passages above.

Proverbs describes a range of foolish people such as the naïve, the young men seduced by a harlot, the unteachable fool, the lazy sluggard, the scoffer, the person wise in their own eyes and the boorish fool.  For these people loving discipline, fervent believing prayer for wisdom (James 1:5), good scriptural teaching and high quality ongoing discipleship may help correct the error in their spirit. Christian approaches that have proved helpful here include: Neil T. Anderson's truth encounters and various discipleship strategies, church discipline and accountability groups. Many men's ministries specialize in this approach. 


Indications of when folly has overtaken the human spirit:

·         When the person consistently makes unwise choices that are not so much "bad" as "just real dumb". They are characterized by an almost total lack of insight about themselves, their lifestyle and other people..

·         Where they are naïve, credulous, gullible or always falling in love.

·         A deeply derisive attitude to education, knowledge and learning and wisdom.

·         They constantly show off their knowledge but do not listen to others and are quite unteachable.

·          Foolish habits, erratic behavior, impulsiveness, wild schemes, dreaming, loud inappropriate and boorish behavior, lack of insight,  poor decisions.

·         The person does not set out to be immoral but finds themselves being easily caught up in immoral relationships or they seem unable to avoid bad company.

·         Where a person is chronically lazy, slack and disorganized and their life drifts from job to job and failure to failure, when there is a great sense of wasted potential.

·         Poor and very inappropriate communication such as boastfulness, an inability to listen or be corrected, hasty speech, quick displays of anger and provocation and little idea of how to be socially appropriate.


Dealing With Folly In The Human Spirit

As we saw in previous chapters wisdom is closely associated with the presence and teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom can be prayed for and is prayed for by Paul. James is quite specific in saying that a Christian can receive wisdom from God directly through prayer (James 1:5) This wisdom can be in ordinary daily things where wisdom may be lacking. An interesting passage that illustrates this is found in Isaiah 28:


(Isaiah 28:23-29 NKJV)  Give ear and hear my voice, Listen and hear my speech. {24} Does the plowman keep plowing all day to sow? Does he keep turning his soil and breaking the clods? {25} When he has leveled its surface, Does he not sow the black cummin And scatter the cummin, Plant the wheat in rows, The barley in the appointed place, And the spelt in its place? {26} For He instructs him in right judgment, His God teaches him. {27} For the black cummin is not threshed with a threshing sledge, Nor is a cartwheel rolled over the cummin; But the black cummin is beaten out with a stick, And the cummin with a rod. {28} Bread flour must be ground; Therefore he does not thresh it forever, Break it with his cartwheel, Or crush it with his horsemen. {29} This also comes from the LORD of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.


God guides and instructs the farmer in the humble daily routines of farming! God is thus concerned with our work as well as with our religion. It is His will for us to have wisdom in all  aspects of our lives. This confidence that God loves to instruct His people should give us great hope when dealing with foolish Christians. It gives us a solid basis for prayer when we ask Him to give wisdom to those who lack it. He delights to do this and James says He gives ‘without reproach”. (James 1:5-8)


Foolish Christians first need to realize they have been foolish. Once the light dawns they need to be encouraged to seek wisdom from God. Finally they need to learn the basic disciplines that will enable them to correct their folly in the light of their new wisdom. This process takes place best in a Christian community where accountability and discipleship are lovingly practiced without harshness or legalism. [See the chapter on Learning Organizations later in this book]. In such communities personal change is normal and  others around them are also working on aspects of their character. Support groups, bible study groups, one to one discipleship sessions, counseling and Christian communities all provide good contexts for the correction of folly in the life of the Christian.


However awakening a person to the fact that their behavior is foolish is not easy. Pain is the great awakener as well as honest and true Christian friends who speak the truth in love. One method that can work is to get a person to write out in a journal the consequences of the behavior you are trying to get them to correct. Then get them to do a cost-benefit analysis.  This has awakened many gamblers once they have honestly done a calculation of the cost of their habit.


Some people know they are foolish but have no idea how to change. If you want to lead someone from folly to wisdom be prepared to provide careful, detailed step by step instruction and modeling.  Going from folly to wisdom involves learning and learning requires a good and patient teacher. Do not dump a whole heap of demands and ideas on people. Give them bite-sized bits of counseling homework and encourage every step of improvement. As I mentioned earlier sometimes wisdom can arrive from God in answer to godly believing prayer. When it does it sometimes comes in a rush, in a huge "Aha" moment the person sees what they should have seen all along and suddenly changes. This is good, but a good structure of discipleship and the careful systematic teaching of biblical truth can help those moments to occur with greater frequency.


Problems Caused By Trauma

Thirdly there are those spiritual problems based on the effects of suffering or trauma. For such people the trauma of life has been so deep and so overwhelming that it has affected their human spirit. These people literally have a damaged spirit, which is in need of healing or comfort. The spirit of such people can be described as broken, failing, poisoned, overwhelmed, grieved or anguished.

This damage to the human spirit is far beyond the normal upsets of life and is a deep and personal wound such as those inflicted by rape, violent crime, death, divorce, deep injustice, cult involvement and torture. For these people there needs to be prayer ministry and an atmosphere of gentle encouragement. In some cases the damage may be so profound that the person has an "uncontrolled spirit" and is like a city with broken down walls - easily exploited, and easily manipulated. Such people will need much rebuilding of the walls and instructions in setting appropriate personal boundaries. For many damaged people the biblical truths that give hope and grace may need to be repeated often in an atmosphere of love, encouragement and healing prayer. Counselors operating in this area have to be especially gentle and caring and able to spend hours in healing prayer with a single client. Christian and Christian-compatible approaches that have proved helpful here include: Healing of the memories, inner healing, Theophostic counseling, many retreat centers and prayer ministries, Bradshaws’s championing the inner child, etc.


Indications of trauma having affected the human spirit:

·         A distinct event that precipitated the problem.

·         Painful emotions such as grief, bitterness and sorrow.

·         Flashbacks, problems with memory.

·         The person is overwhelmed by life, fearful, or consumed with anxiety.

·         The person indicates they feel they are emotionally crippled and "lame".

·         The person communicates that they are broken or damaged inside.

·         The person pulls away from life and indicates a deep need for comfort and healing, space and privacy, gentleness and restoration.

·         As you talk to someone you get the sense that you are dealing with both an adult and a damaged child in the same person.

·         Unusual reactions to normal stimuli. A sense that the person is reacting inappropriately because some wound is being touched.


Dealing With People Whose Spirit Has Been Affected By Trauma

Go slowly and go gently. Traumatized people need care and comfort and support because life has already overwhelmed them. Dealing with severely traumatized people should be left to trained professionals. However many people can be helped and many ordinary Christians restored by appropriate and gentle prayer ministry and healing of the memories. One of the better Christian approaches is Theophostics (its not as New Age as the name sounds) by Dr. Ed Smith of Kentucky. David Seamands  has also done good work with his "Healing Of The Memories" and "Healing For Damaged Emotions". Of secular approaches John Bradshaw's "championing the inner child" is among the better ones and is worth a read by those involved in ministry. A lot of research is now being done on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and on Multiple Personality Disorder which I believe are extreme forms of having a damaged and broken spirit. So you can see that this is a huge and specialized area in which a great deal of research is currently being undertaken and which is quite impossible top cover in a few hundred words in this chapter. What can we do then?

1.        Be supportive, understanding, loving and caring. Give the person lots of freedom. Let them be angry but don’t let them dwell too long on it.

2.       Be extremely patient, do not condemn, do not censure. They are bruised and hurting. Remember "a bruised reed He will not break and a sputtering wick He will not extinguish."

3.       Avoid strong emotion. A gentle quite retreat atmosphere is generally far more healing for trauma than a hyped up evangelistic meeting. There is so much strong emotion inside them that they are already overloaded emotionally. Part of healing is to decrease this overloaded emotional level.

4.      Above all do not suggest to them how they may have been abused or attempt to recover memories. False memory syndrome induced by zealous counselors is very real and very damaging.

5.       Where necessary help them seek justice. Empower them to go to the police and through the court system. Many Christians are uncomfortable with this but people need to feel supported and protected and that there is justice in the world. If the offender is hardened and unrepentant and a continuing risk to the community then that offender should not be protected by "gracious" Christians. I faced this dilemma when I knew that a schoolteacher was a serial pedophile, lacked insight into his condition and was still around young children. He went to jail for eight years. The victims agreed with this course of action and were benefited by it.

6.      If they are agreeable pray for them and soak them in loving prayer. Do not expect or demand immediate miraculous outcomes. Just soak them in prayer and let them slowly come face to face with Jesus who heals them. Repeat as necessary.

7.       Encourage them to seek God's Presence in prayer and worship. Do not censure them for seeking God in ways that are outside your personal religious tradition. Many evangelicals are disturbed when a recovering person spends time reading the mystical writers or sets up a chapel at home with a cross and a candle. Remember that the spirit is a world of symbols and they are trying to reconstruct their symbolic realm. This is a complex task - let them be.

8.      Encourage them to express their feelings via art, acting, music, poetry, writing, pottery, crafts, gardening, keeping pets and other non-destructive outlets.

9.      Don't argue but do gently correct false perspectives on life. Much of the continuing damage comes from believing untruths about God, self or others. These need to be gently shown to be false and the person shown who they are in Christ and in the loving eyes of God.

10.    Give them lots and lots of time to heal and realize that recovery from trauma may happen in bits and pieces over many years. Don't feel it has to be fixed right now. Let God heal them in God's time.

If you are someone that feels that you may have a broken and damaged spirit do not sit alone and try to heal yourself. You need grace and you need special people and places that have a healing effect on the emotionally damaged. Ask the Lord to lead you to the right people and places where you can find the grace you need.


Problems Caused By Spiritual Attack

Fourthly there are those spiritual problems which are the outcome of a spiritual attack that  has affected the human spirit.  For mostly Christians this is just harassment of the believer by an evil spirit external to them. For some people particularly those involved in the occult or grave sexual sin, exorcism may be necessary.  For simplicity I will break spiritual attacks into two categories: minor attacks which are generally attacks on our mood, and major attacks that go deep into the spirit and involve a major change in consciousness observable to others. 

The classic mood attacks are the suddenly swinging moods of King Saul who was afflicted by an evil spirit. These dark and evil moods often accuse the person, others or God  and produce hopelessness, despair and discouragement.. They can also suddenly give rise to lurid and vivid temptations or can fuel abiding anger and cause an irrational "spirit of ill-will" to develop. These moods have the following characteristics:

·         They come over the person without warning.

·         They then control their thinking and emotions for a while and take it in a negative direction.

·         They leave suddenly when rebuked in the name of Jesus

·         They sometimes can be assuaged by Christian music such as when David played his psalms on the harp for Saul.

Please note carefully the above mood "attacks" are not the same as "demon possession"! In mood attacks the attacking spiritual entity is external to the believer and is engaged in harassment of the believer through their thoughts and emotions.


Other indications of spiritual attack on the human spirit include:


Major attacks are where the consciousness of the person is greatly altered and it is evident that the person’s human spirit has been invaded in some way.. A second personality or consciousness may take over the person and speak in a different voice or the person may suddenly enter a trance state (which is often rather sweet and seductive) and which obliterates all moral consciousness. In this trance state the person may perform sinful actions of which they later have reduced or blurry recollection. In such cases exorcism by an experienced practitioner who has the recommendation of sensible and mature Christians may be called for.


Dealing With Spiritual Attacks

Here is a general formula for dealing with minor spiritual attacks on the Christians emotional life:

·         Become aware that it may be an attack of the Devil.

·         Try and give it a name if you can e.g. "a mood of deep discouragement".

·         Resist its effects on you and say a firm "No' to its lies and suggestions.

·         If necessary counter its lies with the truth of Scripture or just plain facts. When Elijah was deeply discouraged and said "I alone am left" God just said "I have 7000 that have not bowed the knee to Baal" (1 Kings 19).

·         Rebuke the harassing spirit sternly in the name of Jesus with the spiritual authority you have as a believer. (see Ephesians 1:20, 2:6, Colossians 2:13-15, Matthew 11:11-13)

·         It should leave virtually instantly. If it tries another bout later on - then rebuke it again.

·         If it returns you may have given ground to it by nurturing resentment or hatred, or actually liking the vivid temptations or believing there might be some truth in the accusations If this is the case then remove the ground the Devil is using to afflict you by repenting of your wrong attitude and then exercising forgiveness towards others.


When is exorcism necessary?

When there is clear evidence of an indwelling evil spirit. These indications include changes in personality such as a male person talking with a female voice or vice versa. They also include various peculiar odors and bizarre manifestations that are quite uncharacteristic of the person; a strong aversion to prayer and spiritual disciplines and especially to communion and an attraction to unclean behavior. Some people are overwhelmed by sinful obsessions and compulsions (unlike in obsessive-compulsive disorder where the obsessions are generally morally neutral acts such as hand-washing or locking up repeatedly) and unusual trance states where sinful acts are performed including a compulsion to suicide and dark obsessions.


Before engaging in exorcism make sure you are aware of your authority in Christ over the demonic realm. See the following verses Luke 10:19, 1 John 5:18,19; Ephesians 1:20, 2:6, Colossians 2:13-15, Matthew 11:11-13, Hebrews 1:14, and 1 Corinthians 6:1-3 and any good and reasonably recent systematic theology. You should also consult some of the books on deliverance ministry recommended in the section below. It is best to learn the art of exorcism from an experienced, wise and balanced practitioner who can show you how to go about it sensibly and effectively.  Now to consider a special kind of spiritual attack - curses.



Curses are an unusual topic for a book on emotions, but they are real, and are profoundly emotionally disturbing for those who experience them. They are not just angry words or swear words; they are acts of power in the spiritual real. Curses are mentioned over 200 times in Scripture, and were foundational to the Old Covenant (see Deuteronomy 28-30). God Himself was the first one to pronounce curses – on the earth, on Eve’s fertility and upon the serpent. Curses are not just a primitive superstition; they are spiritual pronouncements recorded in Scripture, that profoundly affect the very structure of reality in some way.


The world was created by the word of God and is held together by the power of His Word (Genesis 1, Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:17-20). Thus God’s words can change creation and Jesus’ curse caused the fig-tree, representing barren Israel, to shrivel up. Blessings and curses are first of all God’s words that operate at this fundamental level of creation and “tilt the playing field” of life one way or another. Secondly curses and blessings can be from evil spirits or flow from the human spirit. Goliaths curses against David were “by his gods” (1 Samuel 17:43) and were ineffective for reasons we shall see later. The David and Goliath encounter was a power encounter of one spiritual system against the other and both contenders came in the name of their respective deities. Shamans and magicians such as Balaam were hired to curse people in OT times and still do this today. Though curses from evil sources much less powerful than curses from God they still were feared and were able to do much damage. There are 22 references exhorting believers not to curse others. Curses are finally ended in the new creation (Rev 22:3).


The origin of blessings and curses is found in the book of Genesis. The first blessing is upon the living creatures, which were told to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22). When God made mankind He also blessed them saying “be fruitful and multiply” and added a third blessing “have dominion over” (Genesis 1:28). These three basic blessings of: “be fruitful”, “multiply” and “have dominion over” form the basis of all future blessings, such as the Abrahamic blessings, and their reversal forms the basis of all future curses such as those in Genesis 3. Lets look at this a little bit further:


Fruitfulness is the ability to joyfully express your inner nature and feel that which you are doing is truly creative, worthwhile and significant. Its opposite is pain in creation especially barrenness.


Multiplication is exponential increase - increasing as in 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 not additively as in 2 , 4, 6, 8, 10, Multiplication is a huge increase in productivity for a small increase in effort.  Its opposite is frustration and futility. Putting in a huge effort for little or no reward.


Authority to rule over means dignity, headship, authority, the ability to be ascendant, to be the head not the tail. Its opposite is being humbled, to eat the dirt, to be crushed and humiliated, to be unable to rise.


In Genesis 3 we see the first curses in operation. The woman is made unfruitful, the man is made to work in futility and the serpent is told he will eat the dirt. The three things that make life good are reversed. Life becomes unbearable. Thus when we are cursed we find life very difficult indeed. No matter how hard we try to rise we never quite make it. Time and time we get to the brink of success only to have it snatched away. Curses can affect health, particularly reproductive health. They can affect earning power and they can affect our ability to have authority and command over our lives and people who are cursed may have to endure life-long humiliation.


As a missionary I can say that curses are real and in some cases they are even lethal; Ezekiel talks of magic charms that hunted lives (Ezekiel 13:18-20). Curses are on the rise in Western culture as people dabble more and more in the occult and in organizations where people take secret oaths that invoke curses (such as the Masons). Emotionally curses produce deep confusion and despair and an inability to think straight.


[There is not a lot of good literature on the topic of curses  and all such books need to be read critically and subjective material carefully evaluated. Derek Prince’s  book “Curses and Blessings” is reasonable, Ed Murphy’s chapter is good but gives no hint on how to break curses, and Francis Frangipane has some very good books on living in the place of protection from curses and spiritual attack.]


On one hand we do want to acknowledge the reality of curses and to deal with them and to break them on the other hand we do not want to become overly superstitious and fearful seeing curses everywhere. If your life is affected by sterility, barrenness, constant lack of success and failure to gain any sort of ascendancy no matter how hard you try then a curse may be in operation. If you think this may be the case then do some research on your life and family history and take the matter before the Lord.


The good news is that breaking curses can be surprisingly easy for Christians because we dwell under the protection of the blood of Jesus Christ. Curses have greatest power where the person who has been cursed has committed some great act of wickedness such as involvement in the occult. The reverse is also true, curses have little or no power over a righteous person and Proverbs says that a curse without cause will not alight on the head of a righteous man.


Scripture reveals a number of ways in which we can break curses and/or be protected from them


1)       Live a righteous life free from major sin and acts of injustice. Abide in the righteousness of Christ where no curse can penetrate. (Malachi 4:6, Proverbs 26:2, Romans 8).

2)      Put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6 :10-21 which is actually armor against spiritual attack. Ephesus was noted for its magic practices (Acts 19) and its curses and witchcraft. The primary purpose behind Paul writing to the Ephesians was so they could have some understanding of their power, authority and degree of protection in their pagan and occult city. The armor of God is like the Kevlar of the spirit world protecting the Christian against curses, magic and occult practices.

3)      God is able to turn a curse into a blessing. He did this when Balak tried to get Baalam to curse Israel. (Nehemiah 13:2, Deuteronomy 23:5, Numbers 22&23). A brief prayer by Jabez that has received a lot of popularity lately is a case of a person appealing to God to have a curse turned into a blessing and succeeding. David is particularly bold when he says in Psalm 109 where he seems to have been the victim of a curse (see verses 17 & 18) (Psalms 109:28 NKJV)  Let them curse, but You bless; When they arise, let them be ashamed, But let Your servant rejoice. David did not fear the curse, but instead asked God to bless him and outdo the curse, and then to turn the curse back on those who uttered it. God can out-bless the most fearsome and disabling curses. It gives us hope that our prayers to God based on the name of Jesus can not only break curses but have them turned into blessings instead.

4)      Understand and plead the fact that Christ has taken all the curses due to us when He became a curse on the cross (Galatians 3:10-14). In Christ that ground for curses to succeed against us is removed because on the cross Jesus became a curse for us and took all the cursing that may have been due to us due to our violation of God's laws.

5)      Break associations with the sins of parents and ancestors particularly those involving the occult or idolatry. Exodus 34:6,7 says such sins bring a curse "to the third and fourth generation". We have to break ties with such sins by not participating in occult ceremonies that may be traditional and even confessing such involvement of your parents and ancestors and forsaking them in a prayer of renunciation to God. The essential thing is to make a clear break with the familial sin in your own heart, mind and spirit. 

6)      Get rid of objects that bring a curse particularly objects associated with pagan worship, idolatry or the occult. For instance if we have our Grandmothers pack of tarot cards we need to get rid of them.  (Deuteronomy 7:25,26) The Ephesian converts were moved by the Holy Spirit to burn their magic scrolls and occult objects. (Acts 19:18-20).

7)      Do not engage in secretive or dishonest sins that you think you can get away with unobserved. In Deuteronomy 27: 15-26 certain sins are singled out as bringing a curse notably the making of idols, incest, bestiality, treating parents with contempt, injustice against migrants, widows, the disabled or the poor, hiring a contract killer, and moving your neighbors landmark or boundary stone. Most of these are crimes that would never be tried in court because of the secret nature of the crimes, the lack of two or three eye witnesses willing to testify or the difficulty of proving of the case such as the “my word against yours’ case of the boundary stone. The curse was God’s way of making sure that such secret crimes did not go unpunished. People knew that if they did these things God would repay. Even in the New Testament God is referred to as the one who punishes those who defile the marriage bed. (1 Thessalonians 4:4-6, Hebrews 13:4). If you have done any of the things in the above list then repentance, restoration and an earnest appeal to God for mercy would be a good starting point in breaking the curse over your life.

8)      Curses can alight where there is deep abiding injustice against an ethnic group. Saul’s bloodthirsty massacre of the Gibeonites, which lay uncorrected for years, later resulted in a curse and a famine in the time of David.

(2 Samuel 21:1 NKJV)  Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, "It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites."

David broke this curse by going back to the offended ethnic group, humbly asking how they would like to see justice done and then enacting it. After ten of Saul’s sons were hung the famine ended. (2 Samuel 21:1-14).

9)      Slackness in ministry can result in a curse. The priests in Malachi were under a curse because of their slackness in God's work (Malachi 2:2 ) and the prophet Jeremiah cries out "cursed be he who is slack in doing the Lord's work (Jeremiah 48:10). If you are in ministry do the work of the Lord diligently and obey His specific instructions if you have been given such instructions. 

10)   Put God’s interests ahead of your own. In the book of Haggai God puts a curse on the nation (Haggai 1:5-11, 2:16,17 )for being self-centered and neglectful of their duty to God. The curse is removed when the people obey the prophets and lay the foundation on the Lord's temple (Haggai 2:18,19) and a blessing is given instead.


There are over 200 verses on curses in Scripture and the above list just touches on some of the main causes and their remedies. Basically a curse can only alight on an area that God has already judged as being worthy of a curse – such as incest , idolatry or murder. Most curses generally last only 3-4 generations though some have lasted since Creation.

Repentance from sin, breaking ties with the occult
 and taking refuge in Christ who has become a curse for us are the main strategies we can use to break curses. Part of this is putting on the whole armor of God, which is designed to protect us from curses leveled against us in the course of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18). When the curse is lifted then the human spirit that has been affected by the curse and been bowed down with pain, confusion and futility will be quickly healed. The person will recover and emotional normality should soon follow.


References On Deliverance Ministry and Spiritual Warfare

There are no perfect books on this difficult topic but there are many good and useful books on deliverance ministry in most Christian bookstores. Among the better ones I recommend  Ed Murphy's "Handbook of Spiritual Warfare" and the writings of Francis Frangipane, George Otis Jr. , John Wimber and C. Peter Wagner .  Classics on spiritual warfare include "Born For Battle" by R. Arthur Matthews and "Screwtape Letters" by C. S. Lewis . My e-book "Praying To Move Mountains" available from has some short articles on the topic, and its free. Books to avoid are those written by conspiracy theorists or which sensationalize the topic. Especially be wary of books that "see a demon under every bush" or which place a great deal of credence on the testimony of demons being exorcised or which have extensive lists of behaviors that are supposed to get you demonized (especially if the behaviors are not listed as sinful in Scripture). Such books can bring people into legalism and bondage. God has made us to be aware of spiritual attacks and to have victory over them but not to be preoccupied with them, fearful or overly suspicious.


Concluding This Chapter

Our life perspective may be affected by a wide range of events that damage our human spirit, so that it cannot see God or life correctly. This damage tilts our basic perception of reality so that the whole of life, including our emotional life, is dysfunctional. Our human spirit can be deceived or brought into spiritual captivity and bondage by false teaching or damaged through sin, folly, trauma or spiritual attack. Curses can bring immense emotional pain and a feeling of constant struggle and futility. All of the above have scriptural remedies and can be dealt with and fixed. They are not necessarily permanent.


As they are fixed our human spirit will begin to function as it is meant to function. That is as the place in us that receives God’s truth and God’s wisdom and which works in co-operation with the Holy Spirit. As our human spirit heals our spiritual sensitivity will increase and we will see ourselves, others and God rightly. When this occurs the process of co-operating with the Holy Spirit to become Christ-like emotionally is made much easier.


Once our perception of life and basic stance on life is relatively OK we can then go on to create a more functional belief system. This will in turn help us to be stable emotionally as much of our emotional reactivity flows from what we believe is happening to us and our explicit, verbal, beliefs that we hear as "self-talk".


Once a person afflicted by a bitter and broken human spirit is healed they will no longer be bitter and broken. They will have a much better outlook on life and see themselves, others and God in a much more gracious light. However that dark and bitter period of life may have formed certain beliefs in them that have not yet changed. Hence the next chapter is on constructing a fully Christian and emotionally healthy belief system.

Discussion Questions


1.         What is perception ‘in and by the Spirit’? How did Jesus demonstrate it?


2.        What does Scripture indicate about the ability of non-believers to receive revelation and perceive spiritual things?


3.        How much revelation and spiritual perception is given to Christians under the New Covenant?


4.        How does accurate spiritual perception help our Christian lives?


5.        How do legalism and/or spiritual deception damage our Christian lives?


6.       What are the four main areas that cause trouble for the human spirit? What experiences have you had with sin, folly, trauma and spiritual attack?


7.         Do you believe in curses? Do you think they can still affect us? How important are fruitfulness, multiplication and authority to success in your life?


8.       How much love, joy and peace would fill your heart if you could accurately perceive spiritual things?


The Thoughts And Intentions Of The Heart

Beliefs, Vows, Desires, Wishes, Games, Life Scripts and Inner Goals


(Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


The second step in our five-step model is when perspectives give rise to beliefs, which gave rise to emotions. In earlier chapters I just used the term “beliefs” very loosely to cover a whole range of internal activity that comes under the biblical term “the thoughts and intents of the heart”.  In this chapter we will look at that much more closely. In the next chapter we will see how communities form a lot of what we believe and how the group we belong to can affect our EQ.


The “thoughts and intentions of the heart" are our internalized beliefs, both formal (such as theological beliefs) and informal and more personal beliefs such as "No-one could possibly love me". These beliefs or thoughts of your heart are often reflected in what psychologists call your “self-talk” which is the “chatter” that goes on inside you as you are doing things “I wish Susan would call, I bet she won’t, no-one loves me much etc”. 


These beliefs are our idea about what is true or untrue, possible or impossible, plausible or implausible. They contain our conclusions about life and beliefs about God, others, and ourselves. Unlike perspectives, beliefs can generally be compressed into a single sentence such as “I believe that Jesus is God” or “I think I am totally unlovable”. The Bible has two categories here;  “thoughts’ which is fairly much all-embracing and “intentions” which deals with the movements of the will as we plan, vow and scheme our way through life. The picture we see in Scripture is that these thoughts and beliefs, desires, vows, and inner goals are generally verbal. When the prophets cry out “I know what you are thinking in your hearts it is such-and-so” its always a statement, a sentence that encapsulates the heart attitude.


Over time we weave these sentences into a sort of a bird’s nest of a structure inside us that we call our world-view. For most people it is a horrific jumble of things they learned at school, life lessons, Grandma’s sayings, the latest media opinions and a book they once read. This internal belief structure is more or less functional and gets people by for the seventy or so years they are on this earth. However for some people it can go horribly wrong and cause them a great deal of confusion and emotional pain. It is quite possible to hold conflicting beliefs or inconsistent beliefs or even two entirely different frameworks of belief.  Sunday Christians are a prime example. At Church they seem to truly believe the Bible. At work they operate under an entirely different belief system and operate largely without reference to God. Both are real belief systems for them. They choose which one to operate under depending on where they are and who they are with.


In the Old Testament they even had two distinct religions worshipping Baal when it came to farming and fertility and Yahweh when it came to war. Dual value systems such as this have been castigated by the prophets,  Jesus and the apostles from one end of the Bible to the other. From Joshua's "choose which day who you will serve" (Joshua 24:15) to Elijah's "how long will you falter between two opinions" (1Kings 18:21) to Jesus and "you cannot serve God and Mammon" (Matthew 6:21-24) to James and his exhortations against double-mindedness and worldliness. (James 1:5-8, 4:1-7).


 Such people have literally two belief systems and two minds - Scripture calls them "double-minded" and says that they are spiritually unstable. (James 1:5-8) This instability results from the fact that they are constantly choosing between two or more things they can believe at any one moment. One minute they choose to operate from the biblical belief, the next minute they choose to operate from greed, superstition or expediency. Up and down, tossed here and there like the waves of the sea.


To complicate matters still further Christians do not necessarily believe what they think they believe. Christians are generally still learning to believe that which they think they believe. This is the difference between believing something as a notion or as a doctrine and really believing it so that it is operational for you under stress and pressure. A test of this is "How much pressure does it take before you start to doubt that which you are sure you believe? Ask yourself the following two questions: 


1."If I was out in a small boat on the Sea of Galilee and the waves were high and the boat was about to sink would I be calm or would I be afraid?" Would  Jesus say to me "I have not seen such great faith in all Israel" or would He say to me "Why are you afraid O ye of little faith?"

2."How low can the bank account go before I start getting anxious and doubting that God will provide? Where is the point at which I choose to panic?".


The difference between the answers we put in the bible study booklet and the answer we give to the actual pressures of life can be startling. Our notional beliefs and our operational beliefs under pressure are different. This may not be due to double-mindedness but just to the need to mature, learn and grow.  As committed Christians we are continually learning to truly believe that which we think we already believe.


So we can see that the goal is to have a consistent and fully Christian belief system that is the sole one we operate from, and which is operating at the level of the thoughts and intentions of our heart and guiding our daily conduct and informing all our emotional responses. This belief system will fill us with joy and give us poise and calm in the middle of life's trials. It will be heart level, practical, biblical, strong and singular. Our lives will ring with faith and authenticity.


Firstly - Why Should We Change Our Beliefs?

Why bother? Why not just put up with the internal bird’s nest and believe what we like? What’s wrong with believing a mixture of a bit of Hinduism, a bit of Buddhism and handful of bible verses? Don’t I have the freedom to make a mess of my beliefs if I like?


True. You have perfect freedom to be as dysfunctional in your private beliefs as you like. You can choose to be unhappy, unstable and unfulfilled. No-one will throw you into jail if you chose to believe nonsense.  Unfortunately God is not as easy-going as society or the government on this issue. God is extremely interested in what we believe and in the thoughts and intentions of our heart. They are not private matters to Him. They are matters of eternal importance that can decide your eternal destiny and your reward in heaven, as well as your degree of happiness in this life.


Here are six reasons why you should work on your inner, personal beliefs:

1.        God cares about your beliefs and weighs them up. He judges the thoughts and intentions of your heart. (Romans 2:15,16; Jeremiah 11:20; Hebrews 4:12).

2.       Jesus expects us to be increasing in our faith and in fact is quite demanding about it! The expectations He had of his disciples included being calm in storms (Matthew 8:26), walking on water  (Matthew 14:31), believing in miraculous provision (Matthew 6:30), being able to understand parables (Matthew 16:8), and being able to cast out demons, heal the sick and raise the dead (Matthew 10:8). When they failed to do any of the above they were rebuked (Matthew 17:20). The phrase "O ye of little faith" (see the references in Matthew above) shows that the disciples were expected to learn to believe Jesus with ever-increasing faith. Jesus does not call us to have a static level of faith. Rather we are called to develop a growing "mountain-moving faith" that starts from small "mustard-seed" beginnings. (Matthew 17:20).

3.       Theology interpenetrates reality. Every belief is theological. Carl Jung used to say that every human problem after the age of 35 was spiritual in nature. In a similar vein even the small voices, the dark mutterings of the human heart and the wretched small-minded beliefs that people have are a form of rebellion against God and a dwelling in darkness. For instance to believe in your heart that the world stinks is to malign the Creator. To vow that you will always play it safe and that you will never love again is to retreat into darkness and flee the love of God that He puts into people to reach you.  Thus all your beliefs have a theological component and need to brought into the light of the Word of God.

4.      How we believe determines what we receive.  "According to your faith be it unto you". (Matthew 9:29, 15:28). Conversely having an unstable, worldly or double-minded faith means we will receive nothing from God (James 1:5-8, 4:1-8). Faith can bring healing (Matthew 9:22, James 5:15-18) is a prerequisite for receiving wisdom from God (James 1:5-8), for daily provision and reduction of anxiety (Matthew 6:30-34) and makes all things possible (Mark 9:23).

5.       Creedal faith is insufficient. Even the demons have correct theology in the sense that they believe that God is one - and tremble (James 2:19). Thus merely creedal belief is insufficient for salvation. Belief must be authentic, loyal to God, of the heart and worked out in real life. (James chapter 2). The great men and women of God all had extraordinary personal belief systems that set them apart from their generation. (Hebrews 11)

6.       Letting unbiblical and dysfunctional beliefs linger can cause them to become stronger, more dysfunctional and more painful. Working on them now may take work, but leaving them will make it much worse later on. (Proverbs 4:23 NKJV)  Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.


The Difference

Every church has miserable grumpy Christians alongside radiant faith-abounding Christians. Well what's the difference between the two groups? Both miserable and faith-abounding Christians have heard exactly the same sermons and been to exactly the same bible studies and mixed with exactly the same people in exactly the same neighborhood church and can tick exactly the same boxes theologically. But only the faith-abounding Christians have taken the time and effort to make sure their inner personal beliefs line up with God's Word. Grumpy cynical Christians have decided not to really believe. They would much prefer to complain. Faith-abounding Christians have decided that with God’s help they will interpret reality properly and have paid attention to their heart. They have decided that they will "truly beli