Distinguishing Faith and Feelings

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Hebrews 11:1-6


I.          Many in the denominational world are told that faith is this feeling you have inside that you are doing what is right.

             A.         Mormons in selling Mormonism will ask you to pray and that the Holy Spirit will give you a feeling inside regarding whether what they teach is truth or not.

             B.         Some people, when confronted with the evidence found in the Bible, will reject it, declaring “I know I’m saved. I wouldn’t trade this feeling in my heart for a whole stack of Bibles.”

             C.         Yet, where does the Bible say faith comes from? - Romans 10:17

                          1.          It doesn’t start with feelings. It starts with listening.

                          2.          You see, faith is the result of considering the evidence: evidence that God presented in His word.

                          3.          Hebrews 11:1 - Faith comes from a foundation of two things

                                       a.          The body of things we hope are true

                                       b.          The evidence of the things we have not experienced

                          4.          Examples:

                                       a.          I’ve never been to Australia, but I have faith that it exists. Why?

                                                    (1)        I’ve been told other places exist and when I got there, I saw that it was true.

                                                    (2)        Based on the evidence of the reliability of the source, I have confidence that other places that I have not seen also exist.

                                       b.          I’ve not met George Washington, but I have faith that he once lived. Why?

                                                    (1)        I’ve seen the evidence that has been left behind: paintings, writings, etc.

                                                    (2)        I saw the consistency of this evidence and am persuaded that the things I cannot examine must also be true.

II.         How faith is shown in the Old Testament

             A.         Noah built an ark by faith - Hebrews 11:7

                          1.          Genesis 6:22 - Noah built according to what God commanded him

                          2.          Noah’s actions show the depth of his trust in God

                          3.          Noah didn’t decide at the age of 500 to build an ark for the next 100 years and preach to a wicked world because of a feeling in his heart.

             B.         Abraham - Hebrews 11:8-10

                          1.          Abraham demonstrated faith by leaving his family at the age of 75 to go somewhere he never been. - Genesis 12:1-4

                          2.          At the age of 99 he accepted circumcision – a painful surgery at the time before painkillers - Genesis 17:1, 9-14, 24-27

                          3.          He offered up his promised son - Hebrews 11:17-19

                          4.          Do personal feelings cause one to willingly suffer pain? Does one decide on a feeling to sacrifice their son?

                          5.          Did you not notice that Abraham’s feelings went counter to what he did? Abraham saw evidence that God was trustworthy, so he placed his faith in Him?

             C.         Saul was a man who felt that God would accept some modifications to His commandment - I Samuel 15:3, 9

                          1.          Notice that he and the people were unwilling to destroy everything. They had feelings contrary to what God had said.

                          2.          In condemning Saul, Samuel said - I Samuel 15:13-23

                          3.          Saul showed his lack of faith by his lack of obedience

             D.         Uzziah had a feeling that he should be able to offer incense to God - II Chronicles 26:16-21

                          1.          Uzziah became angry at those trying to correct what he knew to be right in his heart.

                          2.          He desired to worship God. He knew the way he wanted to do it.

                          3.          But he was wrong.

             E.         Uzzah saw the ark of the covenant about to fall - II Samuel 6:6-7

                          1.          He knew it would be bad for it to topple over.

                          2.          He felt he should do something to protect the ark

                          3.          He died for his feeling

III.        How faith is shown in the New Testament

             A.         The Pharisees created a set of rules to help people worship God correctly - Matthew 15:1-9

                          1.          They worshiped God. They felt they were pleasing God.

                          2.          But it was an empty, useless worship because they placed their own rules above God’s.

             B.         Some had a strong feeling that the Old Testament should not be abandoned - Galatians 5:1-4

                          1.          Such continues today.

                          2.          They just know that God wants it their way that they never pause to consider what God has said on the matter.

             C.         Paul thought he was doing God’s will - Acts 26:9-11

                          1.          Yet Paul’s conscience never bothered him - Acts 23:1

                          2.          Believing a falsehood produces the same feeling of confidence as believing the truth.

                          3.          It is not the feeling that indicates whether we have the truth.

IV.       How faith is passed on to others

             A.         I Peter 3:15       

                          1.          Set God apart in your hearts.

                          2.          How? By some feeling? NO!

                          3.          By showing others the reason for hope

             B.         This is why we teach the Bible - Romans 10:17

             C.         Feelings are not faith - Proverbs 14:12

                          1.          Feelings can lead you astray

                          2.          Jacob was lead astray by his feelings - Genesis 37:32-35

             D.         Faith is what allows us to ignore our personal feelings and spurs us to obey God

             E.         It was faith that caused Abraham to obey God instead of his feelings - James 2:20-24

V.         The world is filled with evidence - Romans 1:20-22

             A.         Do we listen to it or ignore it?

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