Elijah Was a Man Subject to Like Passions as We Are

Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, James declares. After Elijah had called down fire from heaven and slain the Baal prophets he was scared witless when he learned that the evil queen Jezebel had sworn to kill him. He flew into the wilderness and found a cave wherein he hid himself.

His emotions swung from great joy over his accomplishments to fear, and then self-pity.  Powerful emotions we all are subject to. It is not unlikely it was condemnation on account of the two latter passions that made him lament to God: I am not better than my father. However, God would use this incident to teach this righteous man a lesson about emotions.

God said to Elijah: Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. Then the record relates that God passed Elijah four times. First in the form of a strong wind, then an earthquake and the third visitation was that of a fire. The fourth and last was a sound of a gentle stillness.

God had passed Elijah four times, but God was only in the sound of the gentle stillness. Emotions are like earthquakes, strong winds and fire in our inner man. God says to Elijah: I am in your emotions, or perhaps even more precisely: I am your emotions. He continues: Even though I am your emotions they are not the place where you find the whole truth about who you are in me.

Emotions are a part of our human makeup. Like Elijah we need to learn that our emotions are magnificently created to manifest God, but we cannot put our trust in them when it comes to revealing the full truth about who we are. In the still, quiet and unvarying spirit center God’s ultimate truth is found concerning who we are as children of the Most High.

Emotions toss us to and fro, and they often claim to be the truth about us or a given situation. Classified in neat subcategories we label them as good or bad. There are feelings labeled as suitable for Christians and there are emotions which induce condemnation because they are labeled unholy or something to that effect.

Our emotions are not exempted from our union with God. He has filled the entire temple. Every nook and cranny is filled with Him. Elijah learned that emotions, both negative and positive, have a place in God’s scheme of things. Through this powerful and telling encounter Elijah further learned not to accept false condemnation on account of his emotions. They are purified in God and our Father tremendously utilizes our emotions, even those negative, to awaken us to Himself; that He comes perfectly through and uses everything we are for His redemptive purposes.

The last lesson learned by Elijah was that we do not live by seeing, but by faith. God miraculously purports everything in our lives to His glory. We cannot judge His impression on this world through us and as us based on our emotions. By faith we recognize that everything works together for good so that His redemptive purposes are always present and active in, through and as us.

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15 Responses to Elijah Was a Man Subject to Like Passions as We Are

  1. Wow, is this ever a good reminder. Taking condemnation for emotions is a killer, worse than Jezebel herself!

    • Ole Henrik says:

      Wow, you just provided another piece to the greater picture. Jezebel is the evil one coming after us with condemnation which kills us! In our confusion and condemnation we flee only to find our Father waiting where we have hidden in our anguish and He confirms us and says: You are perfectly okay!

  2. A good friend wrote: Emotions aren’t good or bad, they just are! It’s what we do with them that matters. Thanks of this post – such truth spoken! For this is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus!

  3. So hard not apply those self-condemned emotions to ourselves because of our failures or those circumstances that seem like failures. But good it is to sense Him say, “It’s not me who is condemning you. You are not the sum of your failures and feelings. You are my love and dwelling place!”

    • Ole Henrik says:

      Yes, Dave, this is it: “It’s not me who is condemning you. You are not the sum of your failures and feelings. You are my love and dwelling place!” The light sure is shining into our hearts revealing our perfection in God!

  4. Fred Pruitt says:

    Ole Henrik, this is the best. You have hit a central key. Linda Bunting rightly says that in general the Church understands the Deity of Christ — it is His and therefore our humanity the Church has trouble with, and as such we struggle with our own, exactly as you have outlined, in that we are afraid, not confident in ourselves, condemning ourselves for the ups and downs of our human makeup. It is RIGHT HERE AT THIS POINT — the point where we stand on the Spirit’s Word in us that “as He is, so are we in this world,” trusting nothing but the Word spoken inwardly with no palpable empirical evidence of any kind — or — we fall back into the law and self-effort, i.e., the wilderness. To trust Christ up in Heaven in one thing, but it is another thing to trust Christ as our living human selves, expressing Himself perfectly in His own house which has become His eternal dwelling. That is finally what it means to say, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” It means, “Look here, Jesus Christ has now come in MY flesh.” To separate Him from His living embodiment of Himself in our flesh (and spirit/soul), is to ignorantly deny the incarnation in its full meaning. MY flesh (my total humanity) is the battleground, and it is precisely here the victory is won. He has now come in MY flesh! The state might kill you if you don’t worship the image of the emperor. The Christians might kill you if you say, “Jesus has come in MY flesh!” Oh well, either way we win. Bless the Lord!

  5. Reiken Hemel says:

    My goodness, you guys have catalyzed quite a wonderful spirit- reaction in one another!
    Wonderful freedom we experience when we know our identity in Christ and move out (Ex Movere-“emotion”) in faith, leaving condemnation behind, and abiding in the sweet conviction of our salvation, taking our rightful place abiding in Christ as co-heirs. Truly free, indeed.

  6. Kristin says:

    I think about this subject a lot. I was encouraged by Teresa’s comment, ““Emotions aren’t good or bad, they just are!” I have told friends those exact words myself and was about to write them as a comment when I read Teresa’s comment. It was cool to see words the spirit had given me said by someone else. He is at work and this is His truth, not mine. Confirming to me that these words were from Him.

    I grew up rather entrapped by emotions. I thought if I felt something then I was a hypocrite to act in anyway converse to what I felt. A counselor redefined the word hypocrisy for me and that helped me in the journey of freeing me from the entrapment I grew up in. She defined hypocrisy as going against what I know to be true. So, then I was no longer afraid of the emotion itself. I no longer feel guilty by it’s mere presence. And I was free to know that my emotions are not me. They are not my worth or how God views me. They just come, and most of the time they come uninvited it seems and the appearance of my emotions often surprises me. I often do not realize I feel as strongly as my feelings show I do or I will be walking along and up pops some emotion I was not anticipating. I have come to compare the appearance of emotions to the physical event of falling down on the pavement. When I fall down on hard cement my skin is going to lose the battle and it is going to bleed. I don’t choose for it to bleed nor can I will my body to stop bleeding. I can tend to the bleeding but I am unable to will it to stop and it is a waste of my time to do so. Emotions are so much like that. Someone yells at me or offends me in some way and my emotions respond. I cannot look at the emotion and say, “Stop that”, or “You shouldn’t feel that way” and expect the emotions to go away. I think too often Christians believe the presence of the negative emotion itself is a sign of a lack of faith. They, we, believe that we must be utterly hopeless people for even feeling that way. And they go about trying to use flesh to erase the emotion itself. Which just digs us into a hopeless pit making us feel more and more hopeless and helpless. I cannot make myself not feel. But it is in the presence of these feelings that faith really soars. It is in the presence of fear that God invites us/me to trust Him anyway, regardless of how I feel or how the situation seems. It is in the presence of the grief of loss that we rest in God’s promises of His presence and His hope when all feels lost. “Neither life nor death, nor angels etc. can separate me from the love of God (which is Christ in you-the hope of Glory).” It is in the presence of disliking someone that I am able to trust God to do the loving when I do not “feel” it in myself. He does not ask us/me to erase our feelings and emotions. He asks us to continue to, “Draw near to the throne of grace to find mercy and help in time of need.” I get to see Him be what I cannot will into my flesh. My feelings show me where my point of need is. My “I can’t” becomes “but HE CAN!” We are in error when we believe the lie of the enemy that our feelings are in and of themselves sin and must be expunged as soon as they pop into our heads and hearts. And it is error to believe that the presence of this negative feeling can drive the spirit out of me. My feelings make me run to God and find hope and help every time I “fall down” and skin my emotional knees. Because He is me and my emotions are not going to scare Him out of loving me or drive Him out of me. My emotions are not more powerful than the God of all creation.

    Psalm 56:3 “What time I am afraid, yet then will I trust in Him.”

  7. Ole Henrik says:

    Wonderful, Kristin! It is crucial if we are to find the rest the Bible speaks of to accept ourselves completely. God has accepted us. He chose us, we didn’t chose Him. That says it all.

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