Summary: Let’s face it, following feelings instead of biblically informed faith fractures fellowship and destroys discipline. The Corinthian catastrophy has only one cure: Christ.
You heard about the scientists who stopped using laboratory rats for certain experiments and began using preachers, didn’t you? The reason, they said, is because there are some things that even a rat won’t do. People do the most unbelievable things!
I read a strange article in a news magazine: The week of July 22, 2005, from Berlin Germany, a grandmother, Renate Dolle, 63, announced her retirement after 49 years as a streetwalking prostitute. Dolle said she was still attracting four or five clients a night, but wanted to quit so she could spend more time with her husband and granddaughter. What kind of family is that? What husband would put up with that?
As we continue our study through 1 Corinthians, here in chapter 5 Paul tells the church that they have a member there who is doing something that even the pagans don’t do. But worse yet, at least some in the church are reacting by being proud and boasting! Can you imagine? What kind of church is that? What Christian fellowship would put up with that in a member of the church? Paul says, “And you are arrogant about it!” Then in verse six he says, “Your glorying is not good!”
Instead of celebrating the deliverance of Christ by walking in holiness, they were celebrating by returning to and rattling the chains of sin! The church at Corinth was in spiritual crisis! Only a return to Christ and the Cross of Christ can cure this churches terrible condition. To return to Christ means a turning away from sin. Renouncing those spiritual chains of death and disease, the church must cleanse their hearts and lives and build up holiness in Christ, for without holiness no one will see the Lord! Those members who refused to embrace God’s grace but insisted on maintaining a sinful life must be put out of the fellowship.
Let’s pause here and take a look at where we live today and our world. What has happened to our culture in the past 50 years in regards to morality and discipline? One trend that has done a little good, but at least as much damage is this: There has come an awakening of satisfying and protecting what we casually call our “feelings.” The statement that has gone down as the hedonistic slogan of the age is this: “If it feels good, what? Do it!” Psychologists have joined ranks with this movement telling us that we ought to feel good. From the “free love” sixties someone discovered what we call “self-esteem.” Psycho-Cybernetics and I’m OK, You’re OK, became best sellers.
Whole churches got on the bandwagon too. There were even sermons about self-love, turning the second commandment inside out with this logic: If you are supposed to love your neighbor as yourself, you need first to work on loving yourself! While that sounds like wisdom, it has no foundation in the rest of scriptures. The person who focuses on loving himself or herself actually ruins his or her ability to fulfill the command. It takes denying self to accomplish this commandment, not affirming and gratifying the self. Self-seeking stands in the way of Christ seeking. Not self-love, but love for God is what we need to fulfill this second commandment! What is the message Jesus gave and the Bible teaches? Those that love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength are capable of loving their neighbor as themselves! Don’t worry about loving yourself. Just learn to love God and you’ll find yourself fulfilled and blessed and empowered for obeying the rest of the commandments.
But self-love is still the popular thing. Personal feelings have come to dominate and set the priorities of our culture. "I don’t feel good about this or that" is taken as seriously as the principles and facts about this or that. People even choose churches by how it makes them feel, instead of searching for the church that makes them more like Christ. Feeling centered focus has had a terrible effect on our homes. Parents, fearing that they may damage their child’s psyche if they hurt their feelings began to indulge their immature behaviors instead of training and disciplining them. Husbands and wives whose mates don’t satisfy their feelings often find themselves in divorce court. This has also had a terrible effect on the moral fiber and holiness of the church. Feeling focused churches will never be disciplined because, and get this, obedience is learned through SUFFERING. That’s how Jesus learned it, and that’s how it is learned still.
Let me stop here and make this clear: It is not that feelings are completely unreliable, they are God given indicators for well being or possible trouble. The problem is that they are very limited and indeed can be false and unreliable. We usually think of feelings as associated with what is in our hearts.