When God speaks to you—part 2

The second-century Gnostic heretics held to a duality between flesh and spirit. They believed that everything physical is evil, while only non-physical things are good.

Again and again the Bible refutes this. It declares all of creation “good” and “very good” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31; 1 Tim. 4:2). It affirms that Jesus became flesh to live among us (John 1:14), yet was without sin (Heb. 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22). The duality between flesh and spirit long ago died an abandoned orphan.

Now a new duality confronts us, a duality between thinking and feeling, some would say between mind and heart. Those who accept it often try to furnish biblical support for their claim that the mind is untrustworthy and deceived by sin, while the heart is the legitimate realm of the Spirit. Let’s consider one passage often used as proof.

Prov. 3:5-6 counsels: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.” Does this mean that we should feel our way to the right course and not think things through?

No! “If it feels good, do it” is not a maxim for Christians. Our feelings are just as prone to deception as our thinking is. We must look beyond both human feelings and reasoning to a higher authority, God’s Word.

Looking to God’s Word is exactly what the wise man of Proverbs is advising (Prov. 3:1, 7). He condemns the person who rejects the Lord’s way and thinks his or her own is preferable. This passage does not condemn all thinking, only rebellious, wrong thinking. The “heart” is where to keep the commands of the wise. In fact, “heart” often refers not to one’s feelings, but to the mind, where reasoning takes place (Gen. 6:5; Luke 1:51).

Both Jesus and Paul commend those whose thinking is mature and logical (Matt. 10:16; 1 Cor. 14:20). True, it would also be wrong for us to deny a legitimate place to our emotions and become as cold and calculating as Sherlock Holmes. But nowhere does God tell us to stop trying to reason things through and just trust our feelings. Nothing could be more spiritually risky than that. Our minds, guided by God’s Word, must lead our feelings to a proper response of the whole person to the Lord.

—Steve Singleton