The Feeling-Oriented versus The Commandment-Oriented Life

boatMy brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

Well, it has been a rough couple of weeks, but I praise God for how He uses affliction to make us complete, as James promises us. He is teaching me to trust Him more and it is blissful and peaceful to do that, to really trust Him.

Before I even began this blog, I had in mind one topic in particular about which I wanted to write. This biblical concept, to which I was introduced in my Biblical Counseling class several years ago, continues to have a revolutionary impact on my life. In The Christian Counselor’s Manual, Jay E. Adams, considered the father of Biblical Counseling (though I think he would agree, he has just asserted what the Bible makes clear about problems, their causes and their cure), states, “There are only two ways of life: the feeling-motivated life of sin oriented toward self, and the commandment-oriented life of holiness oriented towards God.” (p 118) I am certain he is right. Whatever we do, we have a motive behind it. And the motive is either based on love of self and seeking our own desires or it is based on love of God and seeking His desires which are spelled out in His commandments. Our desires are based on our evaluation of life and they are focused on our idea of what would gratify or exalt us.

There are at least a few problems with that. First, it is sin. We are to love God and our neighbor rather than ourselves; His commands and the principles they embody direct us in this endeavor. Second, feelings are always changing depending on numerous other variables that are themselves always changing (the season, our hormones, and the mood of the person we are relating to, for example). Being motivated by feelings that are always in flux is a pretty unstable way to live. God and His Word are always the same; they do not change. So living according to the eternal Word affords the ultimate in stability. Thirdly, as James also makes clear, our desires are the sole cause of our conflicts with those around us: Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? James 4:1. The antidote, on the other hand, is to “submit to God… [to] draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:7-8 And how do we draw near to God? We humble ourselves and obey His commands: Jesus said “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 4:15.

I have been painfully discovering the extent of my self-love and my feeling orientation to life. Whether I am choosing to be lazy or diligent, often my motives are my own desires – if I want something I can work pretty hard for it. And even when it appears to be something godly and biblical, if I scratch beneath the surface, often I find I am motivated by my own feelings rather than a reverence for and submission to God. The beauty of the Gospel is that seeing myself more clearly in this way is not depressing or discouraging; rather it gives me incredible hope and encouragement. In the refuge of my Savior’s incredible love and sacrifice for me, I can look at myself honestly and in the power of His indwelling Spirit, I can know, think and do right. I don’t know about you, but I am beaten up and burned from following my feelings and thus being distant and at cross purposes from my Lord. The unstable and chaotic turmoil of the feeling-oriented life, thankfully, is excruciating. Knowing that I have all I need in God and His Word to trust Him, to believe Him, to know Him, to obey Him is true gratification. As I immerse myself in His Word, I come to know what He is asking of me, and as I turn to my Father, I find the power to do what He is asking of me. And I know it will be the same all day and tomorrow and the day after that…

I hope I have explained this well. Does it make sense to you? What are your thoughts? I hope passing this on blesses you as it has me.


4 thoughts on “The Feeling-Oriented versus The Commandment-Oriented Life

  1. Dear Lisa, That is such a beautiful and helpful article, thank you. I know that I am such a hot & cold, on & off, black & white person according to feelings. But God, two most beautiful words. But God has not left me there to perish but has shown me a more stable way to live—-His unchanging word. Bless you, Nancy

  2. Thank you, Lisa for writing this post. I found it to be just what I needed to be reminded of today/this week. You have reminded me that His word is to be my compass in all things for it points us back to our Father.
    Blessings to you & your family,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s