Understanding emotions and controlling them is very important for young people, because more than anything, emotions can become a weak spot for the devil by which he can destroy young lives. That’s why the Bible cautions:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov.4:23).
In other words, God wants every young man to make it a priority to guard his/her heart above anything else. “Heart”, in the Bible, is the seat of thoughts, emotions, and decisions, and is the most vulnerable part of the human soul. Therefore, God wants us to protect it. We cannot protect it physically, but only by the power of the Spirit.
A person who is overcome by emotions can become an easy prey for the devil. For instance, if a man gives in to anger, he gives the devil a foothold.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Eph 4:26,27 )
A foothold is a secure place to stand upon. In other words, the devil very securely stands and finds a firm foothold on unforgiven anger. Anger opens the door for the devil to get in.
Similarly so with fear, worry, discouragement, frustration, and such negative emotions that contradict the fruit of the Spirit.
Three-fold Human Personality
To understand emotions, it is important to first understand the human personality. Man is made up of spirit, soul, and body (1Thess.5:23). Some people think that the soul and the spirit are the same, but the Bible tells us that the soul is as different from the body as the joints are from marrow.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
The Body of Man has three functions: Sensation (senses), Instinct, Stimulus-response
The Soul of Man has three functions: Intellect(Mind), Emotions, Volition (Will)
The Spirit of Man has three functions: Conscience, Intuition, Communion
Through Body (Greek, Soma) we have world consciousness
Through Soul (Gk, Psuche) we have self consciousness
Through Spirit (Gk, Pneuma) we have God consciousness
Similarly, there are three kinds of lives:
Bios is physical life (which even the animals have)
Psuche is psychological life in which one has experience of memory, education, reasoning, feeling, and determination
Zoe (in the Bible) is spiritual life and zoe is always used when talking of eternal life.
A person who is controlled by bodily appetite and cravings is a carnal person.
“for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1Cor 3:3 )
A person who is controlled by emotions, feelings, and pride is a soulish person.
“But the natural (psuchikos) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Cor 2:14 )
A person who is controlled by the Spirit of God is a spiritual person.
“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5:16)
God wants us to be spiritually minded, or else we end up becoming enemies of God; for those who are not spiritual are enemies of God in their mind, even if they don’t realize it. They will be doing things that oppose God.
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Rom 8:7)
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled… (Col 1:21)
The Place of Emotions
Emotions have a very important role in human life. They make life exciting and full of enthusiasm and vigor. Can you imagine an emotionless life??
However, emotions that are not according to the Spirit can be very destructive. Some examples of destructive emotions are:
The Spirit controlled person has the fruit of the Spirit:
The Spirit controlled person is one whose volition (power of decision) is directed by the Holy Spirit; therefore, such person can be temperate, patient, and longsuffering. He has gentleness, meekness, and abounds in goodness and faith.
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (Prov 16:32)
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Tim 1:7)
In modern times, a new terminology has emerged: Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). EQ is considered more important now than IQ. Because, there are many who can be intellectually strong, but emotionally weak. In business and any human endeavor, EQ is very important. Job interviewers try to check the emotional aspect of a candidate’s behavior because bad emotions can damage the functioning of teams and companies.
Emotion and Personality
Tim Lahaye talks of four kinds of personalities in his book, Spirit-controlled Temperament:
Sanguine – These people are usually very optimistic and cheerful. They have a happy face always. They like to talk with people and be in groups.
Choleric – These people get angry very quickly, but then their anger goes down as quicker as well. They are very passionate and speak out things without thinking much.
Phlegmatic – These people seem like having no emotions at all. They may not laugh at jokes, not cry when watching an emotional drama, and seem to be very calm in all situations.
Melancholic – These people usually appear to be serious and sad most of the time. They like to be alone and are introvert. They can be very philosophical. If they get angry, that anger can remain inside for a long time. Many Biblical personalities like Moses and Elijah seem to have been melancholic in personality.
People can have combined personalities like Sanguine-Choleric, or Melancholic-Phlegmatic, etc.
It is very important that no matter what our “natural” temperament is, we must bring our temperament under the reshaping hammer of the Holy Spirit to be transformed into the image of Christ.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.(Rom 12:2 )
“and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:23,24)
Some Characteristics of Emotions-Dominated Life (1Cor.13)
1. Is Impatient
2. Is Unkind
3. Is Envious
4. Is Boastful
5. Is Over-Confident and Has Vain Self-Esteem (Thinks of Own Self as Better than Others)
6. Is Rude in Behavior
7. Is Self-Seeking
8. Is Easily Irritated, Provoked, Seduced, Inflated
9. Is Insensitive to Others
10. Is Not Sad About Sin
11. Enjoys False Stories and Jokes
12. Has Intolerance and Wants things to Be Its Way
13. Is Suspicious
14. Is Discouraged and Frustrated
15. Loses Patience and Control
Some Characteristics of Spirit-Controlled Life
The Spirit-controlled life is a Love-controlled Life
1. Love endures long and is patient and kind;
2. Love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy,
3. Is not boastful or vainglorious,
4. Does not display itself haughtily.
5. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride);
6. It is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.
7. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking;
8. It is not touchy or fretful or resentful;
9. It takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
10. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness,
11. But rejoices when right and truth prevail.
12. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes,
13. Is ever ready to believe the best of every person,
14. Its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances,
15. And it endures everything [without weakening]. (1Cor.13:4-7, Amplified Bible)
Being Filled With The Spirit and Having and Emotional Healthy Praise Life
Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.
Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. (Eph.5:17-20)