Steven Furtick - Your Emotions Aren't In Charge
We have a choice to make today. Boom! Corrupted; created. Old self; new self. Deceitful desires; divinity within. What choice am I making today? The beauty of it is which one of me… You know when you find yourself struggling and going, "All right. Well, there's a part of me that wants to do the worst thing in the world, say the worst thing in the world, be the worst thing in the world, be lazy, not do anything God is calling me to do. There's another part of me that really does want to do what God wants me to do. Which one is really me"?
Then, a lot of times, we just settle for the lower one. "Oh, that's really me. That's just me being me. I'm just being me". That's that elevation of authenticity where we're like, "The me that I am right now is the me I'm going to be, and nobody is going to change me". We start living out the advice in our fifth-grade yearbook. "Never change. Raise hell over the summer". We elevate our self, and we put our self in our current state as being the ideal. That's not what this Scripture said. It said we want to be like God and, even more specifically, that we were created to be like God. So, which one is really me? Ding, ding, ding. One is being corrupted by deceitful desires. One was created to be like God.
When you think about all of the Bible stories (Old Testament) and all of the Scriptures (New Testament) that reinforce this, you can't get away from it. God has things in mind for us, whether they be gifts he wants to give us or things he wants to do through us, and our decision to live into that or not to live into that does play a part. It plays a big part. I decided today to put on these workout clothes and go work out. It was a decision. Nobody dressed me. I didn't sleep in these clothes. I could have. Maybe that's a strategy in the future going forward. But a decision today. Will I decide it again tomorrow? I hope so. It's a pattern. I think I will. I will. How am I going to decide that? Well, I decided that I'm going to work out on these certain days, physical exercise, and that's what I'm going to do.
If I wake up tomorrow and go, "Do I feel like working out?" my shoulder is going to say, "No. Do you feel that? Do you feel that right there? You need a day off". Sometimes you do. My lower back is going to be like, "We're still tight from chest day. We can't do leg day". I have leg day tomorrow. Oh my god! I just realized that. I have leg day tomorrow. So, how am I going to decide tomorrow morning whether or not to put on these clothes and go in that workout room and do that workout again? How am I going to decide? Will I do it based on my priorities (what I want most) or by my feelings and emotions (what I want now)? What I want now is another 30 minutes of sleep. What I want now is anything but that squat rack.
Oh god, I hope we don't have any Bulgarian split squat nonsense tomorrow on leg day. Right now, even thinking about it makes me go, "I'd better commit to put on these clothes tomorrow and go through that consistent routine tomorrow or I'm not going to do it". "What in the world are you talking about right now, Pastor Steven"? It's simple. I'm talking about the place your emotions have in your decisions. Emotions have a place. We have to pay attention to how we feel. How else would we know when to rest? We have to pay attention to how we feel. How else would we know what God is leading us to do? We kind of have to feel it. There has to be a sense that we get. How else would we know how to let love in if we didn't feel?
Feelings have a place. Emotions have a place, but I want to make the case to you that they don't belong on the throne of our lives. Emotions have a place, and that place is not the throne. Jesus is on the throne. Christ is on the throne. Practically speaking, that means that what he speaks, what he wants, the bigger picture of where he's taking my life and how he wants to use me and what I believe by faith he has called me to do, even though I don't always feel that… That belongs on the throne, not my feelings. You're like, "That's obvious, isn't it"? No. We don't live like that. We put our feelings on the throne. If we want to go off, we go off. If we want to skip, we skip. Some people are better at this than others.
Some people are good at pushing through. Some people are good at holding back, but I know we all have places we can grow in this. We don't always feel like saying something encouraging to someone, because it's kind of embarrassing, but if God wants me to say something encouraging to somebody, I should say it. Sometimes we feel like doing something super sinful to feel relief in a moment, just giving in to temptation. "Oh, it's not that bad". I have those moments too. Sometimes I give in, and sometimes I resist. The moments I give in, it's usually because I put my feelings or emotions or desires… That's where I wanted to get. I'm glad I remembered this. Deceitful desires. That's how we get corrupted.
You know what's funny about a deceitful desire? You don't know it's deceitful or else it wouldn't be deceitful, would it? You don't know you're being deceived or else you're not being deceived. If you know you're being deceived, then you're not being deceived. You're just deciding to do something. If you're being deceived by the desire, what does that mean? That means "I think I want this". Many times in my life, I've been pummeled and punished by the consequences of things I thought I wanted. I know you have too. The call to maturity in Christ and the call to grow up in him and let more and more of his grace permeate our lives is Psalm 37:4. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart". Who will? He will.
That does not mean he gives you everything you want. That would be a way to read that verse. "He will give you the desires of your heart". "Oh, awesome. Let me give you my list, God. This is what I want". Nuh-uh. He will instill the desires so he can fulfill the desires. "Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done". That's the process we have to go through of putting off and putting on. So, like I said a few days ago, the tricks of the trade… I used that phrase, which can mean, you know, you use some high-pressure sales technique to get somebody to buy something if you're a salesman or you kind of cut corners if you're building something and sell it as one thing when it's really another, but they'll never know.
The Enemy has tricks of the trade. He tries to get you to trade things that matter most for things that meet "now" needs. "I want to feel better. I want to forget. I want to get out of this". Then we do things, and we put on the old self. We think we want relief, but we really want freedom. We don't get freedom; we get slavery. Deceitful desires. You have some. I have some. It could be going after certain people's approval, and then finding out, "Wait. They're screwed up. They're more screwed up than I am". That's a mess. Oh man, I hope this teaching doesn't sound dark or condemning, because the choice we have is we can put on the righteousness of Christ, and we do that daily. Isn't it interesting that the default setting here isn't that you have Christ on?
That's what I thought it would be. "Keep Christ on. Keep the new self on. Don't take it off and put on the old self". No. It starts with putting off, which means that many days and many situations I face, my default reaction is not going to be the best one. Remember how Jacob and Esau were fighting in the womb? When it came time for Rebekah to give birth, they were fighting. Remember Jacob tried to come out first. He was grabbing Esau's heel, so they named him "trickster". That's what Jacob means. Genesis 25:27. This is the verse I've been thinking about. "The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter…"
What's funny about that is it's describing physical growth. They grew up. That's describing the fact that they matured physically, but watch this. What happens a lot of times is we grow in our bodies, and we even grow in our skills and our interests. He's a skillful hunter. He's good at hunting, but there's some growth that doesn't happen on the inside of Esau, and this is the story I'll read before I close. It said, "The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, 'Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!' (That is why he was also called Edom.)"
Edom means red. The Israelites would have challenges with the Edomites throughout their history. "Jacob replied, 'First sell me your birthright.' 'Look, I am about to die,' Esau said. 'What good is the birthright to me?' But Jacob said, 'Swear to me first.' So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright". Wait a minute. That's not what he did. He ate stew. He didn't despise his birthright. He didn't say, "I hate my birthright. You can have it". But the net effect of it was that he valued something now more.
What did he value now more? Satisfying his physical hunger. I've been there before, where physically I was anxious, and I wanted to stop feeling anxious; or physically I was bored, and I wanted to not feel bored; physically I was lonely, and I didn't want to feel lonely. So I just go to stuff. Physically, I was scared, so I wanted to not be scared. I reach for things that are like stew. I know stew is not a bad thing, but sometimes I reach for things that are worse than that. What it shows me about Esau in this moment is that his emotions were on the throne. He had a deceitful desire. This desire was not bad. "I want to eat". But the deceit was in that he was more focused on what he wanted to eat than who he was called to be. What he wanted to eat versus who he was called to be. When you hear, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," it was meant to be "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau," because he was the firstborn, but it wasn't.
Jacob ended up taking the place of Esau. Esau was still blessed in his own way, but it was costly. This isn't a message to say that for the mistakes you've made and the bad traits you've made, you can't make a comeback. Yeah, Esau never got that blessing back, but he was still blessed. The decision today isn't about something we gave up in the past, whether that's yesterday or five minutes ago or years ago. The decision is about what to do going forward. Deceitful desires will corrupt you. You won't even know it's happening because you're being deceived, but this new attitude we have available in Christ, as we daily exchange what we think, what we want, and what we feel for what he says and walk by faith, not by sight… This new way of being, this new way of living in the world, is available to us.
The fact is this is who we really are. This is that other stuff the world puts on top of us, but God created you to do good works, to be his masterpiece, to be his poem. I want you to experience that as much as possible, and I want to experience that more in my life. God, help us today to dethrone our emotions, to give them place in our lives, but not first place. You have first place. When it comes to a "nevertheless" moment in our lives where we don't want to drink the cup, but we need to; we don't want to make the change, but we need to; we don't want to say, "No," but we need to… Help us depend on your Spirit, not our willpower for that, because we're going to end up like Esau if we just try to do it in our own strength, but because you're in us, we have what it takes. We have what it takes to be a new creation, because that's who we are. In Jesus' name, amen.