Emotions in Check – Matthew 16:21-23

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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In many Christian circles emotions seem to be controlling the lives and even actions of many professing Christians. A church in Lakeland, Florida, televises services where people practice what they call “holy laughter.” They literally roll on the floor while laughing uncontrollably, which defies the instruction from I Corinthians 14:27-34 about being in control of one’s spirit, and doing things in an orderly fashion. Similarly, the trend today is to constantly ask others, “How do you feel about that?” Christians are not to be dictated by their feelings. What we believe, how we act, and even the way we feel is supposed to be subject to God’s Word. It should never be a matter of how we feel, but as Galatians 4:30 says, “Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture?”

Prior to Matthew Chapter 16, the Savior had not disclosed to His apostles that He was going to suffer, die, and rise again from the grave. Luke 18:34 confirms “…this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” Once he understood, Peter did not take this announcement well. “Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from thee Lord: this shall not be unto Thee” (Matthew 16:22). Peter had always reverenced the Savior, standing in awe of His power, doctrine, and commanding presence. But, this news completely upset his plans and his emotions began to control him. The Savior’s response to Peter was very strong. He “said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offense unto Me…” (Matthew 16:23). This verse implies Satan was behind Peter’s heightened, fleshly, emotional response. Satan was distracting Peter from seeing the greater truth and need for the Savior to fulfill prophecy, and the needed task of going to Jerusalem to die for the sins of all mankind. Isaiah 53:7-12 explained the Messiah must be brought as a lamb to slaughter, to pour out His soul unto death and become an offering for sin. Peter was allowing his emotions, or his flesh, to rule him rather than His head and God’s will. This is a common mistake occurring regularly in these closing days of the Dispensation of Grace.

Christians should rejoice over their salvation, eternal security, heavenly hope, and regular service for Christ. However, we need to be on our guard to monitor, control, and bring our emotions into conformity to the Word and will of God in all areas. Are you being careful in this area?

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."