Role of Feelings or Instinct in Fulfilling God's Purposes

Some church leaders might feel they have good instincts and so they go with their gut feelings in pursuing God's purposes for the church. Perhaps they do have exceptional abilities to discern. Can feelings or instinct be relied upon?

Problem with Relying on Feelings or Instincts:

  • No matter how exceptional one's abilities to discern based on gut feelings, the results could fall short of what is best. Remember, you do not see the beginning from the end. God, through His Word, provides perspective. Feelings can be unreliable!
    As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:9)
  • No matter how right something might seem to you, following your feelings could lead to avoidable problems. Romans 12:3 warns us not to think too highly of ourselves. Remember, it is possible for you to make a mistake. You are finite. Feelings can be unreliable!
    There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Prov. 14:12)
  • No matter how righteous one's instincts appear, the pursuit could be tainted with personal motives, ambitions, or biases. Remember, you are a sinful human being. Even as a believer, you still have that sinful human nature that can creep in if you are not walking in the Spirit (Rom. 7; Gal. 5:16-26). Feelings can be unreliable!
    As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Rom. 3:10-12)

Won't the Holy Spirit Keep Your Feelings on Track?

The Holy Spirit does guide and teach us but let's be careful not to confuse the Holy Spirit with feelings or instincts. What happens if you are not walking in the Spirit? The Spirit can be quenched (1 Thess. 5:19). How interesting that the very next verse following reference to putting out the Spirit's fire deals with not treating prophecies (God's Word) with contempt.
What we must always remember is that the Holy Spirit will never contradict the Word of God. Even when we sense something is of the Spirit, we still need to check it against the Word of God.
We need a standard outside of ourselves. Are you sure you heard the Spirit or was it just your own instincts? Check it against the Word. If it violates a precept or principle in God's Word, the Spirit is not the one guiding the decisions.
To Do: Mull over the above verses. Is it possible you are thinking too highly of yourself? Is it possible your feelings or instinct are not as reliable as you think they might be?
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