Which Comes First – Feelings or Obedience?

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

We sometimes have a tendency to want to let our feelings lead the way in our obedience to the Lord.

– I’ll forgive when my feelings change.
– I’ll pray when I feel close to God.
– I’ll be kind, loving, and respectful when I start to really feel it.

But that is not how love for God, spiritual growth, or abiding in Christ work.

Our feelings do not always lead us in what is best for us.

But when God gives us directions, He has our ultimate good in mind. We can trust Him.

Jesus is now our Lord, if we are in Christ. Not our feelings. When He calls us to do anything, we say, “Yes, Lord!” This is SO freeing! We don’t have to be slaves to our emotions any longer! PRAISE GOD!

Feelings are important. They are kind of like an indicator light on a car dashboard. We can pour them out before the Lord like David did in the Psalms. They can be a flag we need to deal with something. But they are no longer the most important thing. They do not dictate our behavior. And they are not our source of absolute truth. God’s Word is our source of absolute truth.

In reality, our obedience to God must lead the way and feelings tend to follow along later.

Jesus equates our love for Him with our obedience to Him. Love is a choice – not a feeling. And real love involves action.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” John 14:23-24

We obey God, because He is Lord and He is worthy. We don’t obey to earn salvation. Jesus earned our salvation on the cross and did all the work to make us right with the Lord. We receive His work on our behalf as a gift. We obey because we love Him and are so thankful for His incredible love and sacrifice for us.

As we take that step into obedience in faith, He provides us the very power we need to obey and He produces the fruit of His Spirit – His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in us. It is all about us allowing Him to do the work in us and through us as we trust and follow Him, seeking His will far above our own.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Prov. 3:5-6


She was a believer in Christ whose family hid Jews in their home from Nazis in World War 2. She later was imprisoned, herself.

“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on his. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command, the love itself.”


If you are in an abusive relationship, please note that forgiveness is not the same thing as trust. We are not commanded to trust untrustworthy people. We may need to reach out for help in situations like this.



How has God been working in your heart on this issue? <3

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I Am Responsible for My Emotions

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  1. I am familiar with Corries story of coming face to face with one of the cruel guards from the women’s prison camp she and her sister Betsie were incarcerated in. I can only imagine how hard it was for Corrie to respond when her beloved sister had suffered such abuse at the hands of prison officials and died there. I guess the balancing point I’d make on this idea would be that God designed our emotions and He himself expresses His own emotions intensely. His remarks for instance, about how He felt when the Israelites burned their own children as sacrifices to pagan gods expressed deep grief and horror. He is very much a feeling being. Sometimes our feelings do nothing but interfere and keep insisting they are right over and against all reason and rationality and all that is healthy or sane. Other times they ARE right and correctly signal us that there is a problem or something is off. I’d say that yes, we can run the train without feelings but if that’s how one is living all the time something is really off. And if one runs totally by feelings, one has no rudder or sail but is just driven by the wind so to speak.
    One thing that concerns me about this story and others like it, is that it can be quite a guilt trip without some qualification. I realize this is off topic and that this article is about situations where we need to step out in faith regardless of what we feel. But I am quite sensitive to how things like this sound to people who have been seriously harmed or victimized and so felt perhaps it might be okay to include this. I struggled mightily with Christian teachings on forgiveness, reconciliation, turning the other cheek, respect for authority, submission and reconciliation, because they are often taught in a blanket way without qualification. This leaves people dealing with wicked authorities or wolves in sheep’s clothing, vulnerable and unable to protect themselves out of fear they are displeasing God.. As in “wives, submit to your husbands. Here is what submission is. .Here is what submission is NOT.

    Corrie did need to forgive. She couldn’t afford to allow the poison of unforgiveness to remain in her heart. But she did not need to trust this man, or immediately accept his claims that he was a brother in the Lord without some time to observe that there were indeed fruits of repentance and conversion. Remember how the brethren needed some help and reassurance to authenticate Paul as a real brother, because of the way he persecuted Christians and even killed them; they were afraid he was faking repentance as a means of infiltrating them to take more captive and were quite leery of him at first. This was not regarded as sinful or unforgiving or lacking grace, but rather a legit concern. I’ve included a link to the crying out for justice blog, where they have some really good articles on what forgiving, grace and mercy are and are NOT, when dealing with https://cryingoutforjustice.com//?s=if+your+brother+repents&submit=Search. If you type if your brother repents into the search bar at the web site it will take you right to it, if this is not okay April by all means edit it out. Thanks for entertaining my thoughts.

    1. 7Times,

      I totally agree – balance is key. God gives us our emotions. We do need to investigate when we are upset, afraid, worried, sad, angry, etc… These emotions are often letting us know that something is wrong and we need to look into it.

      There does need to be balance. We can’t depend solely on emotion. But we can’t completely ignore emotion.

      And there are times when we are being sinned against and wronged that we need to stand against that. Yes, we can forgive, with God’s help – although this can take some significant wrestling. But we don’t need to trust someone who is untrustworthy.

      Totally agree!

      Thanks so much for sharing.

      Much love!

      1. 7Times,
        I have written on the issue you are describing quite a few times, but I will put a caveat in this post, as well, for those who may not have seen the other posts. <3

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