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Rational Thinking


Feelings or Rational Thinking?

"Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord. - Isaiah 1:18

Have you ever heard someone say, "trust your feelings?" Today, most religious organizations push personal feelings and emotions as the source of our faith and authority. They say, "feel in your heart that you are saved."

To understand what these organizations and the Bible have to say about personal feelings and authority for actions, we must first define some key words.

  • To Feel: coming to believe on the basis of emotion, intuitions, or indefinite grounds.
  • Emotion: any strong feeling.
  • Emotional: determined or actuated by emotion rather than reason.

Now contrast...

  • To Know: be cognizant or aware of a fact.
  • Fact: a statement or assertion of verified information about something that is the case or has happened; a concept whose truth can be proved.
  • Knowledge: the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning.
  • To Reason: draw or come to a conclusion; present reasons and arguments; think logically.
  • Logical: capable of correct and valid reasoning; marked by an orderly, logical, and consistent relation of parts; based on known statements or events or conditions.
  • Rational: consistent with or based on or using reason.

What does the Bible say should be the basis for our faith and actions? Amazingly, the Bible no where teaches that one can feel he is saved. Proverbs 28:26 states,

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.

Those who trust in what their hearts tell them are foolish. More to the point, the Bible condems those who walk without understanding.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. Ephesians 4:17-19 (NKJV)

The NIV translates "being past feeling" as "having lost all sensitivity". These people no longer felt that what they were doing was wrong. They had been de-sensitized. Did that make their actions right? No! You simply cannot trust your feelings because they can be wrong. Paul warns Timothy that people will sear their consciences (same as being de-sensitized), which will result in following false teachings and becoming hypocrites.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron...
1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NKJV)

Instead of guidance by feelings, the Bible stresses rational, logical thinking.

"Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord.
Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)
Let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted.
Isaiah 43:26 (NKJV)

When Paul was before Festus, he was accused of being mad. Paul responded,

I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.
Acts 26:25 (NKJV)

God has never demanded unfounded faith. On the contrary, our faith is to be based on evidence:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

Our faith should come by taking a logical and rational step forward from existing evidence and knowledge.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

The Bible tells us that we can know we have eternal life:

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life... 1 John 5:13 (NKJV)

This in contrast to feeling we are saved. This means that there must be an objective, knowable truth that can be understood, otherwise how can we know we are saved? (Recall that "to know" means to be cognizant of a fact, and a "fact" is something that can be proven to be true!) What are the written things that help us obtain this knowledge?

...you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NKJV)

We are to be diligent in our studies of these words.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

By implication, one can wrongly divide (or understand) the word of truth. How does one rightly divide God's word? Through study, knowledge, and logical, rational thinking!

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