“I’m hooked on a feeling.
I’m high on believing
That you’re in love with me.”
— Mark James (1968)
Sometimes, that’s all people want from Jesus. They want to be “hooked on a feeling.” Anything and anyone can give us a warm, fuzzy feeling: family, friends, lovers, alcohol, drugs, Satan. If we’re not careful, that feeling can lead us to hell and we’ll be none the wiser.
Homosexuals think they love their same-sex partners. Alcohol and drug users feel warmth from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes. Occultists sense a demonic presence when they practice dark arts. All these people feel something, but they’ve been deceived. They don’t know that those warm, fuzzy feelings are leading them on a one-way trip to hell.
Jesus Christ is no different to some Christians. One young woman testified at church about feeling the love of Jesus. Yet she gave little evidence of repentance for her pre-conversion sex life. I think she wanted feelings more than Jesus or holiness. I talked to another young woman who’d lost her father a few years ago and was tempted to commit suicide. She said she felt Jesus more while taking lonely car trips and sharing beers with her dad than being in church. I fear that this woman didn’t want biblical truth on suicide and spiritual warfare – just a warm, fuzzy feeling. When I confronted her with truth, she called me hard and unfeeling.
Feeling Jesus and knowing him are two different things. Still, we shouldn’t make an unnatural division between feeling and faith. Some Christians believe we don’t have to feel anything at conversion, but this lack of feeling is apathy and it’s not normal. We should feel something as human beings, whether it’s love, sadness, or anger. It’s no different with Jesus. If we’re truly converted, God’s love should be “shed abroad in our hearts” by the Holy Spirit, through faith in him (Romans 5:5). We should experience divine joy and peace as well (Galatians 5:22, 1 Peter 1:8).
The Holy Spirit is more than a feeling, however. He’s a living presence who leads us to divine truth (the Word of God) and gives us the power to walk in that truth. Whatever we feel must conform to the Word so we can see whether it’s true or false. If true, we can rejoice and hold onto it. If false, we must reject it as satanic deception.
How many Christians do this with their feelings and beliefs? Too often we emphasize faith but don’t ask ourselves who or what we’ve put our faith in. We can sincerely believe something that’s wrong. Sinners don’t believe they’re going to hell. Evolutionists don’t believe God created the world. Atheists don’t believe in God at all. These people may be sincere in their beliefs, but they’re wrong. Sincerity won’t keep them out of hell.
The Christian life is no different. We can believe Jesus loves us as his children, but if we haven’t repented and been converted then we’re wrong. We can believe we’re not living under divine condemnation as sinners, but if we’re not “in Christ” and walking in the Spirit then we’re wrong (Romans 8:1). We can choose any Bible promise and apply it to ourselves, but if we haven’t met God’s conditions then we’re walking in error. His promises won’t be fulfilled in our lives.
During her final days as a kingdom, Israel chose to believe false prophets who promised peace and prosperity. God’s prophets, men like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, promised death and destruction through Babylon but no one listened. Little has changed. False religions and cults abound today because few people seek and obey truth. Few people choose to believe what is right. Their itching ears listen to false teachers who tell them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Doctrine matters. Truth is the bedrock of life in Christ. If we’re not believing and walking in divine truth, then our souls have no anchor (Hebrews 6:19). We’re allowing “every wind of doctrine” to toss our ships to and fro (Ephesians 4:14). We’re building houses on sand that won’t survive when storms come (Matthew 7:26-27). Spiritual shipwreck and collapse are inevitable.
The Christian life isn’t a mind game, a lazy afternoon of make-believe. Life in the Spirit isn’t a holy alternative to sex, alcohol, and drugs – another path to the feelings we crave. Let us seek divine truth and obey it. Let us test our beliefs and feelings against the Word. Only then will we know if we’ve anchored our souls and built our houses on Jesus Christ, the solid rock.