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Feelings As Indicators Of Spiritual Progress


Are feelings good indicators of how we are doing?

Quick Answer


Bible Answers

Mark 11:22-24 (NKJV) 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."

Romans 10:17 (KJV) 17 "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Isaiah 59:19, 21 (KJV) 19,21 "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.... As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever."

Inspired Answers

"We should study the Bible more that we may become familiar with the promises of God, then when Satan comes in, flooding the soul with his temptations, as he surely will, we may meet him with, “It is written.” We may be shut in by the promises of God, which will be as a wall of fire about us. We want to know how to exercise faith. Faith “is the gift of God,” but the power to exercise it is ours. If faith lies dormant, it is no advantage to us; but in exercise, it holds all blessings in its grasp. It is the hand by which the soul takes hold of the strength of the Infinite. It is the medium by which human hearts, renewed by the grace of Christ, are made to beat in harmony with the great Heart of love. Faith plants itself on the promises of God, and claims them as surety that he will do just as he said he would. Jesus comes to the sinful, helpless, needy soul, and says, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Believe; claim the promises, and praise God that you do receive the things you have asked of him, and when your need is greatest, you will experience his blessing and receive special help."—Signs of the Times, May 22, 1884. { PH048 39.1 } 

"Many know so little of faith that when they have asked God for his help and blessing, they look to themselves to see if their prayer is answered; and if they have a happy flight of feeling, they are satisfied. This is not faith, but unbelief. We should trust God, whether we experience any change of feeling or not. We cannot expect to be very joyful and hopeful while we look to ourselves; for we must think of self as sinful. A large class of the professed Christian world are watching their feelings; but feeling is an unsafe guide, and those who depend upon it are in danger of imbibing heresy."—Signs of the Times, May 22, 1884. { PH048 40.1 } 

Further Thoughts

          “I have had this experience, and at one time I resolved that I would never bear testimony again, unless I had the conscious uplifting of the Spirit of God. But one trial of such a resolution proved to me that it was manifest distrust of the word of God. The Lord brought me back to the point from which I started, and I resolved not to seek to bring the Lord to my terms. I felt humbled as never before, and I was willing to trust my heavenly Father to lead me as he would. I would say, "Lord, I have asked for thy Holy Spirit to lead me, I take up my pen and write, and I believe I shall have thy light and thy grace in doing this work." While on earth, we can have help from heaven. I know this; for I have tested God a thousand times. I will walk out by faith, I will not dishonor my Saviour by unbelief.  {RH, October 11, 1892 par. 6} Let us continue to fight the good fight of faith, ceasing to doubt, and not striving to make terms with God. After I surrendered myself to God, I found out why I had seemed to lose the blessing of God. It was because earth and earthly things filled me with anxiety, and I worried about a thousand things that I had no right to be anxious about. When we come into meeting, we meet with persons who have consecrated themselves to the Lord, and heavenly angels accompany them; for every one of us has, not our dead friends, but the angels whom God created in heaven to be with us; they are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. While in the company of those who bring heavenly influences with them, we feel the spirit of inspiration and praise to God come forth from our lips. We lie down to rest at night, but in the morning the same old worldly train of thought to which we have been accustomed, comes back to our minds, and instead of resting everything in the hands of God, we become troubled about many things, the peace and joy that we had the night before are gone, and we feel desolate and unblessed. Then what shall we do? Let us go to God, and say, "I commit all my troubles and perplexities to thee, and I know that I shall have thy help in all my tribulation, because thou hast promised it unto me. Thou hast said, 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.' 'I am at your right hand to help you.'" Believe these words, trust in the promise of Jesus, and do your duty as it comes to you. If we manifested as much distrust of our friends as we do of God, they would feel that we had greatly wronged them; but we do not treat our friends in the way we treat our God."  {RH, October 11, 1892 par. 7}

"Faith and feeling are distinct, one not being dependent upon the other. Faith, relying upon the naked promise, takes God at his word, not because of any special feeling, but because the Lord has said it, and will fulfill his word."  {RH, January 15, 1884 par. 17} 

"All things are possible with God, and by faith we may lay hold on His power. But faith is not sight; faith is not feeling; faith is not reality. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." To abide in faith is to put aside feeling and selfish desires, to walk humbly with the Lord, to appropriate His promises, and apply them to all occasions, believing that God will work out His own plans and purposes in your heart and life by the sanctification of your character; it is to rely entirely, to trust implicitly, upon the faithfulness of God. If this course is followed, others will see the special fruits of the Spirit manifested in the life and character."  {FE 341.3}

"We are striving to gain eternal life in the kingdom of glory. We may have it if we will to overcome as Christ overcame. We have in heaven an Advocate who knows our every weakness, and He will answer our prayers for strength to resist the enemy. I used to think that when I prayed for forgiveness of sins, I must have in my heart a feeling that my sins were forgiven, before I could know that my prayer had been answered. I do not wait for this feeling anymore. I put my whole heart into my prayer, and then I live this prayer. After asking Christ to do certain things for me, I rise and go to work in an effort to do them. Then the sweet influence of the Spirit of God comes over me with such power at times that I feel as if I must break forth into song, to sing His praises. He is good, and praise belongs unto Him."  {2SAT 235.2}

"True faith lays hold of and claims the promised blessing before it is realized and felt. We must send up our petitions in faith within the second vail, and let our faith take hold of the promised blessing, and claim it as ours. We are then to believe that we receive the blessing, because our faith has hold of it, and according to the Word it is ours. "What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24). Here is faith, naked faith, to believe that we receive the blessing, even before we realize it. . . . But many suppose . . . that they cannot have faith unless they feel the power of the Spirit. Such confound faith with the blessing that comes through faith. The very time to exercise faith is when we feel destitute of the Spirit. When thick clouds of darkness seem to hover over the mind, then is the time to let living faith pierce the darkness and scatter the clouds. True faith rests on the promises contained in the Word of God, and those only who obey that Word can claim its glorious promises."  {AG 207.3}

When we comply with the Written Word then we are to walk by faith. We dishonor God when we fail to trust Him after He has given such wonderful evidence of His compassionate love in the gift of His Son. We are to keep looking to Jesus, offering up our prayers in faith, taking hold of His strength. If we would give more expression to our faith, rejoice more in the blessings that we know we have, we would daily have greater cheerfulness and strength. {Ms75-1893.10}  Feeling and faith are as distinct from each other as the east is from the west. Faith is not dependent on feeling. Daily we should dedicate ourselves to God and believe that Christ understands and accepts the sacrifice, without examining ourselves to see if we have that degree of feeling that we think should correspond with our faith. Have we not the assurance that our heavenly Father is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him in faith than parents are to give good gifts to their children? We should go forward as if to every prayer that we send to the throne of God we heard the response from the One whose promises never fail. Even when depressed by sadness it is our privilege to make melody in our hearts to God. When we do this the mists and clouds will be rolled back, and we will pass from the shadow and darkness into the clear sunshine of His presence. {Ms75-1893.11}  If we educated our souls to have more faith, more love, greater patience, a more perfect trust in our heavenly Father, we would have more peace and happiness as we pass through the conflicts of this life. The Lord is not pleased to have us fret and worry ourselves out of the arms of Jesus. He is the only source of every grace, the fulfillment of every promise, the realization of every blessing. “They that follow me,” He says, “shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” [John 8:12.] Our pilgrimage would indeed be lonely were it not for Jesus. “I will not leave you comfortless,” He says to us. [John 14:18.] Let us cherish His words, believe His promises, repeat them by day and meditate upon them in the night season and be happy. {Ms75-1893.12}

A Religion Based On Feelings Is Worthless

"I believe the promise is for me, and I appropriate the same personally. The promise itself is of no value unless I fully believe that He that has made the promise is abundantly able to fulfill, and infinite in power to do all that He has said. {TDG 156.5}  The message the Lord gave me was a message of faith. We cannot dishonor God more than in distrusting His Word. Feeling is not at all reliable. A religion fed and kept alive by emotions is valueless. God’s Word is the foundation upon which our hopes may safely rest, and in the confidence we have in the Word of God we are established, strengthened, settled, riveted to the Eternal Rock." {TDG 156.6}


An Instructive Illustration Of The Danger Of Feelings

One place we were laboring in America, and there was every youth in our college [at] South Lancaster, Massachusetts, (in the effort that we made,) proud sons, proud daughters, converted as we were telling them the simple story of the cross, to come to Jesus just as they were. Such an experience! I missed the youth there one evening, and I inquired, Where are they? They have been here, but they are not here now. Soon a whole class of them came in and took their seats, and then they got up and began to bear their testimonies: I had done wrong to such a neighbor, I had done wrong to such a man, and I had done this sin, and that, and the other one; and one [and] another stood up on their feet and bore their confessions. They said, I wanted to come to this meeting knowing that I had taken up the last stumbling block to my feet and to the feet of others. What a testimony they bore! {Ms 49, 1894, par. 25}

The glory of God came into that meeting. It seemed at times at the commencement of the meeting that the glory of God was about to drop upon us, it did not come only to a few, but at this time, like a tidal wave, it swept through that congregation and what a time of rejoicing! There were no wild demonstrations, for the praise of God does not lead to that. We never hear of any such things as that in the life of Christ, as jumping up and down and around, and screaming and hollering. No; God’s work appeals to the senses and reason of men and women. There are no such outward demonstrations. But the Spirit of God has an influence upon the human heart that shows itself in the countenance, and the shining of the very face reveals Jesus within. Now, it was a miracle of God’s mercy that took every student in that school and transformed them in character, and sent them out as missionaries. Two of the teachers are now in Tahiti as missionaries that were in that meeting. The light of the glory of God was there. {Ms 49, 1894, par. 26}


In that very meeting there was one that thought that he had received the love of God as he never had received it before. The next morning he came to the meeting and he got up. I knew in a moment something was the matter. The light was not in his countenance. Said he, “Somehow I don’t feel as I did last night. Somehow I don’t feel a nearness to God. I lost the blessing.” “Where did you lose it, Brother Robinson? Where did you lose it?” “I can’t tell.” “You slept through the night, yes; and God guarded you all night. Then what is the matter this morning?” Well he did not know. “I will tell you. You have not educated yourself to believe in God whatever feelings you have.” Feeling is not your god, and it is no use for you to offer the sacrifice on the altar of feeling, for feeling and faith are just as distinct from each other as heaven and earth, as the east is from the west. {Ms 49, 1894, par. 28}

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen.” [Hebrews 11:1.] Now faith walks the narrow plank, and walks till it comes to the end, and then steps right off on to nothing as it were, and yet it is everything. It is a mighty upholder. You walk the plank of faith, and you cannot see another step to go. Then it is to plead with your whole heart. You need not consult how you feel. Feeling has nothing to do with it. Do I believe in God that He is my God, and that His promises will be verified to me? Then [I] go right about my work. I never look or examine whether I have feeling or have no feeling. I know what my duty is from the expressed will of God, and it is for me to do it, do it intelligently. {Ms 49, 1894, par. 29}


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