REALITY AND EMOTIONS
A. Introduction: We are talking about learning to see reality as it truly is. Reality is the way things really are. Reality is everything as God sees it. God has given us the Bible to show us how He sees things. If you learn to see reality as it truly is and then walk in that light you’ll overcome in life’s hardships. II Cor 2:14
1. To overcome does not mean you stop all trouble or keep all pain out of your life. There’s no such thing
as a trouble-free, problem-free life in this world because it has been radically altered by sin. John 16:33
a. Part of seeing reality as it truly is, is understanding the nature of life in a sin cursed earth. People
who don’t understand this end up confused, frustrated and angry at God when trials come.
b. We used this example last week: If you live in Siberia and spend your time trying to grow palm
trees you’ll be frustrated and ineffective. But if you accept the parameters of life in a frozen world
and work with them instead of against them you’ll be less frustrated and more effective.
2. These are the parameters of a sin cursed earth: Some circumstances can be changed and some can’t.
a. Generally speaking, you always have the right to command sickness to go from your body and
material lack from your life. But circumstances arising from another person’s freewill choice
cannot necessarily be erased or undone. (Whole lesson for another night.)
b. Victory in some situations means using your authority to change the circumstance by God’s power.
In circumstances that can’t be changed and victory comes through God’s grace enabling you to rise
above and endure until you through it.
1. You have to know which battles to fight and how. God’s Word helps us make those
determinations. With that knowledge you can overcome no matter what life brings your way.
2. You’ll have the confidence to activate God’s power in places where you are authorized to
bring change as well as the confidence to activate God’s grace to endure by His power in the
things you can’t change.
3. The Apostle Paul wrote that Christians must be transformed by the renewing of their mind (Rom 12:2–
A renewed mind sees reality as it truly is). We’ve been looking at an incident in Paul’s life that shows
us how this plays out in the life of a real person.
a. Acts 28:1-10–While being taken by ship to Rome as a prisoner, Paul was able to survive a horrific
storm and shipwreck and then access God’s power to throw off a poisonous snake bite. Then he
healed numerous people in the name of Jesus and preached the gospel to them.
b. Paul was in that situation because of persecution and unwise choices made by other people.
Because he understood the nature of life in a fallen world he knew how to deal with his situation.
1. He didn’t try to override freewill choices (try to change what he couldn’t change) through
wasted prayers. Instead he believed that God would cause it all to serve His eternal purposes
as He brought genuine good out of real evil. Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28; etc.
2. Because he knew God was not the source of his troubles (they’re part of life in a sin cursed
earth) and because he knew who he was through his union with Christ (authorized to tread on
snakes, preach the gospel and lay hands on the sick) he was able to demonstrate the power of
God and see people healed and saved, bringing glory of God.
c. In a circumstance he could not change (persecution and unwise choices made by others) Paul
changed what he could and was sustained by the power of God in what he couldn’t.
4. A major obstacles to walking in victory in this life is lack of understanding of the place and role of
emotions and how to deal with them. That is what we want to consider in this lesson.
1. Emotions are feelings generated in our consciousness (anger, joy, hate, fear, love, etc.). They are a
response to stimuli such as sight, thoughts, memories, experiences, etc. They produce physiological
changes in the body–increased heart rate, rise in temperature, and glandular activity– and prepare the
body for action.
a. Emotions are not volitional (the result of choosing or willing yourself to experience them). They
are spontaneously generated. You cannot will yourself to feel or not feel emotions. Something
must stimulate (arouse or activate) them.
b. Emotions are not sinful. The Bible says: Be angry and sin not (Eph 4:26) indicating that it is not
wrong to feel the emotion of anger but we must not let it drive us to sin.
1. As with every part of human nature emotions have been corrupted by the fall. They can give
us incorrect information and motivate us to act in ungodly ways.
2. We can’t base our view of reality on what we feel nor can we allow our feelings to dictate
how we act. God’s Word shows us reality as it truly is as well as how we are to behave.
3. We are not to be controlled by our emotions. They must be brought under the control of and
transformed by the power of God.
2. As a human being, Paul had to deal with emotions. When Paul the midst of the storm an angel of God
appeared to him with a message. His first words to Paul were: Fear not. Acts 27:23,24
a. That tells us there was the possibility of feeling fear in the situation. Something was occurring that
could stimulate fear in human nature. Fear is aroused when the force coming against us is bigger
than the resources we have available to help and protect us.
1. So the angel said: Fear not. Dismiss fear (Weymouth). Refuse to fear. We just said that you
cannot will yourself to feel or not feel something. How could Paul refuse to fear?
2. The angel gave Paul something with which to counter the fear and the information stimulating
the fear, God’s Word: You will survive this storm.
b. Dealing with emotions does not mean you will yourself to stop feeling something. It means you
take into consideration what God says over and above what you see and feel. You don’t pretend
you aren’t feeling something. You overcome your emotions with God’s Word
1. When you overcome fear (or any emotion) the source or stimuli of the fear doesn’t necessarily
go away. You simply learn to see things differently so that you are no longer afraid.
2. You bring in additional information which changes your perspective or view of reality. That
in turn mitigates the effects of what you are looking at that is stimulating the emotion of fear.
c. Fear may be the appropriate emotional reaction based on what you see. But there is more
information available in every circumstance: unseen facts revealed in God’s Word.
1. What we see gives us information. God’s Word gives us information. Both effect us. Paul
gave God’s Word to the others on board ship.
2. In that context he told them to be of good cheer or “keep up your courage” (v22,25, AMP).
Courage is mental or moral strength to persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
3. In the context of describing the many hardships he faced as he preached the gospel Paul spoke of being
sorrowful yet rejoicing. II Cor 6:10–Sad men that rejoice continually (Knox). Our hearts ache but we
always have joy (NLT).
a. Rejoicing cannot be an emotional response to the situation because Paul said: When I am sad (an
emotion) I rejoice. He was sad because something stimulated or generated that feeling in him.
1. Paul was a real person whom we will really meet in Heaven. He experienced the pressures
and pain of circumstances and the emotions generated by them just like we do.
2. In II Cor 11:23-27 he listed the many challenges he faced as he preached the gospel, adding in
v28,29: Apart from the external trials I have the daily burden of responsibility for all the
churches (Phillips). Who is weak, and I do not feel [his] weakness? Who is made to stumble
and fall and have his faith hurt, and I am not on fire [with sorrow or indignation]? (Amp).
b. What does it mean to rejoice? The Greek word (CHAIRO) means to be “cheer” full; calmly happy
or well off; to rejoice or be glad. It is an action or state of being as opposed to a feeling. Be glad,
rejoice, not feel glad or feel joyful.
1. Christians get confused because they think that to rejoice means to make yourself feel good.
That’s not possible when you are looking at something bad.
2. Rejoicing is not an emotion. It is an action that can and will ultimately affect your emotions.
But that’s not where it starts.
c. In Rom 12:12 Paul spoke of rejoicing in hope. Let hope keep you joyful (NEB). Let your hope be
a joy to you (Moffatt). Hope is confident expectation of coming good.
1. Paul said: Rejoice because you have hope. Cheer yourself with information that gives you
hope or expectation of coming good. In the face and feeling of trouble Paul strengthened or
cheered himself by calling to mind the reasons he had hope. In other words, he rejoiced.
2. You can’t have hope unless you see reality as it truly is according to God’s Word. Paul wrote
in Rom 15:4 that hope (expectation), along with patience (strength to endure) and comfort
(encouragement), come from God’s Word. Why? Because His Word shows us what God has
done, is doing, and will do. It reveals His will, plan, and purpose for our lives. It gives
examples of real people who got real help in the midst of real trouble.
4. Paul wrote in Rom 5:2 that we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God–The hope of sharing the glory of
God (Goodspeed); the hope of beholding the glory of God (Norlie); We confidently and joyfully look
forward to actually becoming all that God has in mind for us to be (TLB).
a. God’s glory is God manifesting Himself (we could do entire lessons), but consider these points.
1. To see God’s glory means to see Him face to face in the life to come.
2. It means we’ll be glorified or fully conformed to the image of Jesus in the life to come.
3. It means that in this life we’ll see Him glorified as He moves in our situation on our behalf.
b. Paul was able to rejoice in the face of trials because this is how he viewed reality: Tribulation
works patience or endurance. Endurance brings experience. Experience gives us hope. v3,4
1. Some people mistakenly believe that trials produce patience. If they do, why isn’t everyone
patient because everyone has trials? Trials don’t create patience, they work it in the same way
exercise works muscles.
2. Patience is actually a fruit of the recreated human spirit. It is part of God’s provision in the
circumstances you cannot change. It goes to work in the midst of trouble to help you endure
until you get out. When you make it through a trial it gives you hope that you’ll survive
whatever is ahead.
c. Back to the word rejoice in v2. The Greek word used by Paul means to boast. He used the same
word translated glory (in tribulation) in v3. Paul is telling us that we rejoice by boasting in the
Lord, by talking about what He has done, is doing, and will do.
5. How did this play out in Paul’s life? In Acts 16:16-26 Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned for
casting a devil out of a servant girl. She brought her masters money through telling fortunes by the
devil’s power. Her owners were outraged and turned the two over to city officials for causing trouble.
a. At midnight, in stocks in the deepest part of the prison, Paul and Silas prayed and praised God.
Paul took his own advice. Praise in its most basic form means to acknowledge God, to make your
boast in the Lord by talking about who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do.
b. In this account there is no hint of: “Why did God let this happen? We must have displeased Him
somehow. What is He trying to say to us? After all I’ve done in His service, how could He let this
happen? Silas (Paul), this is all your fault. (These are the kinds of reactions we have when our
emotions and/or a faulty view of reality is dictating our actions.)
1. These men understood the nature of life in a sin cursed earth and responded to God and their
circumstances. Praise is not an emotional response. It is the appropriate response. It’s always
appropriate to praise God for His goodness and wonderful works. Ps 107:21
2. Both men had hope of God’s help. That hope came from God’s Word and its numerous
examples of God helping His people in their time of trouble. Praise lifted them up and
opened the door to God’s overcoming power in their circumstance. Ps 119:62; Ps 50:23
b. Back to the storm in Acts 27. As they approached the island where they would be shipwrecked
Paul exhorted the men to eat a meal. They had not eaten in days because of the storm. v33-36
1. Note that Paul gave thanks to God. This was not a religious ritual. Paul didn’t have a
religious bone in his body.
2. Paul was thanking God for His Word to protect and preserve them through what was ahead
because he believed that what God said would come to pass. v25
responses to the stimulus being presented. But you must always remember that there are more facts to
the situation than what you can see.
a. You cannot let what you see and how you feel about what you see paint your picture of reality nor
can you let it determine what you do or how you respond to your situation.
b. Bring in additional information from God’s Word. Cheer yourself with God’s Word. Change
your perspective, your view of reality, and begin to rejoice in hope or boast about God.
c. Rejoicing in hope is not a gimmick. It comes out of your perception of reality: This trouble is not
from God nor is it bigger than Him. It didn’t take God be surprise. He sees a way to use it and
cause it to serve His purposes as He brings genuine good out of it. He will sustain me through it.
2. You may be thinking: Yes, but I am facing a situation that could cause me permanent harm or loss.
You must understand that even if the worst case scenario happens, for a Christian, all loss, pain,
suffering, injustice, etc. is temporary. All will be made right in the life to come.
a. You might ask: Isn’t that a very fatalistic way of looking at life, especially life’s biggest troubles?
No, it’s accepting and understanding the way things are in this sin cursed earth. (It’s cold in
b. That doesn’t mean there is no help, provision, or deliverance in this life. There is. But to access
that provision you must come from a place of faith and confidence, not fear and worry. That
happens as you learn to see reality as it truly is according to God and respond based on that rather
than react based on what you see and feel.
1. Faith is not sight (II Cor 5:7). Faith is believing what God says above what you see and feel.
What did Paul see? A deadly storm with no way of escape.
2. But his stance which was based on a view of reality shaped by God’s Word was: I believe it
shall be as it was spoken to me. Acts 27:25
c. It’s easy to dismiss the instructions the Bible gives to rejoice because it doesn’t feel right.
1. Rejoicing in hope is not an emotion or a feeling in the moment. It’s not a gimmick or a
technique you use to solve you immediate problem.
2. It’s an action that comes out of a perception of reality that has been developed by the Word of
God. More next week!