There are times in life when we deliberately fake our feelings and we are able to control our facial expressions and our words because we don’t want our true feelings to be known. It’s a test of discipline and when we succeed we’re happy because we managed to hide our true feelings, which is what we intended. But it’s a very different story when we think we have control over certain feelings, but then our unexpected attitude or reaction gives away secrets that we didn’t even know we had.
We’re taught in this world that it’s a sign of maturity to be able to manipulate our feelings and our attitudes when dealing with people and situations. For example, people who have anger issues are encouraged to attend anger management therapy to learn how to control their anger. Recovering alcoholics are enlisted in counselling classes to learn how to resist temptation. And Christians are taught to memorize Bible scriptures so they won’t stray from the Lord.
But none of this “therapy” will do anyone any good because they have not defeated the enemy in their battle; they have just been taught how to control it. In other words, they’ve surrendered to it and have learned to live with it.
However, Christians are never encouraged to control their feelings and attitudes. We are all told to give them to God and to become more like Him so that our attitudes and our feelings and our opinions become the same as His.
“Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.” … Psalm 25:4
It comes as quite a shock to us when we think that we’ve surrendered something to the Lord and that it’s all behind us, and then during a conversation with someone or an unexpected incident the old buried feeling along with the worldly attitude just bursts forth and reveals the truth. And that truth is that we still have that worldly attitude – aka sinful nature – inside us and that what we thought was gone is still there.
So how do we get passed this? Do we work harder and become more determined than ever to take control over those issues? No, not if we’re a Christian – in fact, it’s just the opposite. Jesus told us to take on HIS yoke and HIS burden and to cast OUR cares onto Him.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” … Matthew 11:29-30
God teaches us to resist the devil and all the temptations that he plants in us by filling ourselves up with His Word and His instruction. The devil, on the other hand, will continue to fight so he can bring out the old attitudes and habits. We cannot win over the devil and we’re told not to even try it on our own merit because we don’t have what it takes to fight him.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” … Ephesians 6:12
We need to study the Bible and get the gospel of Jesus down into our spirit so that we don’t just know the Word in our mind, but so that it’s alive in our heart and we believe it. Then whenever the devil attacks us with this temptation we won’t fall into it; we won’t be caught off guard because our very first reaction will be the same as the Lord’s, and that will send the devil fleeing so that he cannot succeed in bringing us back to our old habits and attitudes.
When we got saved the “old” person or nature that we used to be died and we became “a new creature” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We were forgiven for all of our sins and the sinful nature in us was replaced with God’s Spirit through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross. But the devil doesn’t want us to stay saved and so he will continue to bring the temptation of the old habits and attitudes back, and we will never defeat them or him by taking control over them. The only way that we can defeat him is to be filled with the love and the knowledge and the wisdom of God and let His Word be our defense and our offence against the wiles of the devil.
We can’t suppress these feelings and attitudes and then think that we’re okay because they’re still there and the devil is just waiting for the most inopportune time to bring them out. Then when we least expect it, we’ll burst forth with the old attitude and give away secrets that we didn’t know we still had. These surprises can be very painful – and very embarrassing. On the other hand, if we can put our pride aside we’ll realize that we’re still holding on to this part of our old sinful nature that shouldn’t be there, and it’s an opportunity to give it all to God and ask Him to take them from us and to fill us with HIS attitude and with HIS love.
“But love covers all sins.” … Proverbs 10:12
We grow every day when we spend time with the Lord; when we praise Him and study His Word so that we can be more like Him, but we will never grow if we feel in any way that it’s us who is in control of our thoughts, attitudes and feelings. The only control that we have over our own lives is the choice that He’s given to us – we can choose to surrender all and follow Jesus or to surrender to the lusts and desires of this world and of the flesh and follow the world.
It’s our choice, but if we want our attitude to reflect Jesus and not hidden secrets, then we need to be vigilant and choose wisely.
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” … Joshua 24:15