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From head to heart
- Jacob Ninan
If we aren't born again, we can't really understand spiritual truths. We may study the Bible, and form our opinions about various things. But we would be really far away from the truth, because spiritual truths can only be understood spiritually (1Co.2:14), and only by being born again can we begin to 'see' the things that are of the kingdom of God (Jn.3:3).
But even after we are born again and begin to understand the things of God, we see that it is easier to understand things 'in our head' than to experience them in our practical life. For example we can quickly learn about faith in God and how we can trust Him in times of trouble, but still find it difficult to overcome anxiety when trouble comes. When this happens we may doubt if we have any faith at all. We had expected that we had faith, and that we would be able to overcome when temptations came.
What is really happening in such cases? Can we say we don't have any real faith? No, we have faith--believing in God, His promises, and expecting that it would be according to His word. What we don't realise at that time is that faith has to be tested, and that only after testing we get the ability to endure (Jas.1:3).
When people try to help us in trouble by quoting some scriptures do we feel like saying, "I know all that. But still I am not able to handle this problem"? What we are demonstrating is that we know the truth and believe in it; but the truth has not come down from our head level to our heart level where it controls our emotions too. When our emotions are contrary, it becomes difficult for us to choose to do obey the truth. We know we ought to obey the truth, but we feel driven in other directions.
This is a crucial point in the temptation. If we give in to our feelings, we will find it even harder the next time to obey the truth. But if we overrule our emotions at this time and do what we know we ought to do, our faith will come out triumphant. Then the next time we will find the pressure from our emotions to be weaker, and when we go on in this way a time will come when our emotions also support us in following that truth.
It is not that overruling our emotions at one time will resolve such issues for all time. Certainly we are strengthened in our spirit by this to do the same thing in other areas of our life too. But when we face new issues in different areas we need to follow the same path there too.
'Understanding' of truth tends to boost our confidence, sometimes to the point of pride, and it is difficult to recognise in the time of trouble that just understanding is not enough. It can be painful, if we had been thinking that we have strong faith, and especially if we have also been preaching to others about it! But then we must remember that the validity of our faith is being tested, and that after it is tested it will become a part of our life itself (Jas.1:12). The key is to persevere in the truth, by obeying the truth even when our feelings lead us against it.