Head and Heart Out of Sync
Heart Over Intellect
Helen knew the truth intellectually and could quote Philippians 4:19… “God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory,” and yet she was filled with anxiety and worry over her finances. Why? Because she believed something in her heart that was contrary to this Bible verse that she had memorized. Her “heart” belief was overriding her intellectual belief.
Someone might say, “Helen’s problem with her finances is a lack of trust in God, causing her to doubt. What she needs to do is deny her feelings and choose to believe the truth, trust God and stop doubting.” There are multiple problems with this strategy and rationale. The most obvious is that it will be unlikely to work.
Trying harder to do the same thing, that has not worked before, will not increase the chances for success. It makes more sense to slow down and re-evaluate our strategy. Nevertheless, there are many people who try over and over again with little change. If I were to ask the typical believer to use one word to describe his or her emotional and spiritual state of being (assuming they were willing to honestly admit it), it would probably be the word “weary.”
The everyday man sitting in the pew is worn out from trying to overcome sin and perform to some arbitrary level of spirituality. What happened to “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:30)? Jesus’ yoke is still available to those who can throw off the old yoke of law-keeping and enter into His rest.
The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Heb. 4:11). This is an unusual statement; struggling to enter into rest seems backward and upside down. However, God has a rest waiting for His people. He has invited us to enter in because the work is done. We are complete in Christ. However, if we do not know this—more so, if we do not believe this—then we will continue to struggle and God’s rest will be elusive. It’s not an easy thing to stop performing or cease trying to overcome sin. It’s a ‘struggle’ to trust God and enter into His rest. Nevertheless, the Bible has stated the facts clearly: rest is available.
There are several factors here that may be causing us trouble. First, because we feel whatever we believe, the truth may not feel true. When we know this truth in the heart, it will feel true, and when this is so, we will have entered into His rest. However, I can believe with my intellect that God loves me, accepts me, has completely forgiven me, and desires an intimate relationship with me. I can even have Bible verses memorized to support my case. At the same time, none of this may feel true to me. I may feel unloved or abandoned or even feel God’s displeasure or rejection. I will feel whatever I believe with my heart. To the degree that I do not believe the truth, I will continue to struggle unnecessarily. Nonetheless, rest awaits me when I know the truth.
Second, doubt is not something to overcome, nor is it the absence of belief. Rather, doubt is the outcome of something we do believe. Because I believe something other than the truth, I have doubt. We cannot overcome doubt; it is merely a symptom of having a belief which is contrary to the truth. If I say, “I doubt that God will help me in this trouble,” what I just said was, “I do not believe that God will help me in this trouble.” It is because I believe this lie that I have doubt. It is the false belief itself which must be overcome, not the doubt. Thankfully, we can have our belief changed by the Spirit and the doubt will dissipate.
Third, emotions are designed by God and are good. They are accurate indicators of what we believe in our hearts. Denying what we feel is like ignoring the “dummy light” on the dashboard in our car. If my oil indicator light comes on and I just put black tape over it, I haven’t solved the problem. As a matter of fact, if I continue to drive without adding oil to my engine, I will soon have even more serious problems.
Fourth, trying to increase our trust in God through determination or willpower is impossible. We don’t grow in trust by trying harder to do so. Trust is the by-product of believing something. I trust you because I believe something about you. When my children were young and I asked them to jump down from the tree into my arms, they jumped because they believed I would catch them. If they didn’t believe I would catch them, trying harder to trust me would not have made them jump. Trust is experiential, based upon proven reliability.
Trying Harder and Getting smarter
Intellectual belief will only carry us so far. We are called to live out our Christian life by faith. (Gal. 2:20) Faith is knowing the truth experientially and believing it with absolute certainty in our hearts. God is the granter of this form of belief. When we receive truth from the Spirit, we experience Him. Our knowing the truth experientially (from the heart) is the essence of our faith.
Just because we say we believe something doesn’t mean we really believe it. Simply trying harder to believe in the midst of our doubting hasn’t worked. Trying harder through self-discipline, perpetual confession and repentance, willful forgiving, thinking positive thoughts, claiming the promises, denying and suppressing our feelings, and just choosing to do the right thing in the face of adversity, will more often than not fall short and leave us wanting. So what are we to do?
Helen believed Philippians 4:19, but she still worried over her finances. She believed with her mind that God would supply her needs, but in her heart she believed something else, resulting in worry and anxiety. Some would say she didn’t believe it in faith. So then, what does it mean to believe in faith? Try harder, put more effort into it, deny and suppress the worry and anxiety she felt? Even though this is the default practice typically applied, we need to be honest about how well it has worked for us. The truth is, this approach is the one all other world religions apply—and it simply does not work.
Helen was in a quandary. She knew the truth, but felt something else. She was struggling because she held two opposing beliefs at the same time. She believed with her mind what the Bible said, but experientially, she believed something else in her heart.
When what we believe is consistent with God’s truth and we know it experientially— with absolute certainty—our feelings will appropriately correspond to the truth we believe. We will walk in joy, peace, assurance, confidence, and trust.
Faith is experiential belief established in the heart. A person believes the Gospel with his heart and is saved, and we are to continue living our Christian life in the same manner. For “with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness…” (Rom. 10:10) and “as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him…” (Col. 2:6).
However, if we believe something contrary to the truth, our feelings will likewise match what we believe. Helen believed something that caused her to feel anxious and worried, even while she intellectually knew what the Bible said. Her emotion matched her belief.
So the question that begs our attention is, “How do we identify the things we believe that is contrary to the truth, how do we break free of the falsehoods we harbor, and how do we experientially embrace God’s truth?” This is the direction we are moving in as we learn more about Transformation Prayer Ministry.