10. THE DEVIL AND EMOTIONS
Happy New Year!!!
In this chapter of our monthly newsletter, I want to help you start your year off with a new clarity of emotional health, security and exploration.
As I have said in previous issues, emotions are spiritual. God is an emotional being. We were created in God’s likeness and image, including the ability to emote. Emotions are designed by God for creation.
So, where do emotions fit in our Christian faith? Are they friend or foe? Are “positive” emotions only godly, but “negative” only demonic?
Doesn’t the devil inflame emotions to steal, kill and destroy us? And the answer is “yes”. However, there is danger is oversimplifying this to making all emotions fit into one box or the other. Even “negative” emotions are signals of something deeper going on.
I like to analyze processes as they relate to our emotional experiences. Emotions do not exist in a vacuum. Emotions begin with historical memories and the survival/belonging networks surrounding those memories. We can call these energy pockets of griefs, losses and traumas. Out of these energy pockets, in combination with circumstantial threats in the present, come subconscious thoughts. Thoughts (which are neurons firing together in the brain) activate emotions (the release of neurochemicals in the brain). Emotions give energy to our “belief” formation. Beliefs mature to attitudes. Then attitudes turn into our “manner of life.”
Let’s see this in a simpler layout:
· Subconscious energy pockets from past grief memories
· Manner of life
Our watchfulness is to consider even “negative” emotions as gauges to explore down into the false narratives, the lies and arguments that we have allowed to mature. By exploring them we can then confront them with truth. Truth will ultimately reprocess the emotional memories down at the root level. We then aren’t simply fighting a superficial thought. We are identifying the lies that are driving energized unbelief and disrupting those lies with God’s truth. This disrupts the entire system from “grief energy pockets” all the way to “manner of life.”
In this way, even “negative emotions” are a necessary gift for Christians. They are spiritual. They are gauges. They are helpful to bring us to the root issues that have created so many unmanageable moments in our behaviors.
The question remains, “how does the devil use emotions to kill, steal and destroy?”
The devil is primarily a deceiver. Deception is a false perception. Anytime we see God, ourselves or others in a false narrative, we are experiencing deception.
The Apostle Paul spoke of Christians being like a Roman soldier, dressed in full warrior garb. The spiritual armor of Ephesians 6 tells us of the enemy shooting fiery darts, for which the shield of faith is how we quench the attack.
…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. EPHESIANS 6:16 NKJV
Fire throughout scripture is a term used as a metaphor for intensified emotion.
As Greek scholar, Rick Renner points out. The “fiery darts” wording comes from the Greek language. Paul writes this Greek word in the exact same way Thucydides, the ancient Greek writer used it in his own writings.
“There were three types of arrows used by military of New Testament times. First, there were plain arrows that were similar to the arrows that one would shoot from a bow today. Next, there were arrows that were dipped into tar, set on fire, and then shot through the air. Last, there were arrows that contained combustible fluids that burst into flames upon impact. The arrows in Ephesians 6:16 are called “fiery darts.” Because Paul’s word usage is identical to that of Thucydides, the early Greek writer, we know exactly what kind of arrows Paul had in mind.”
Paul is thinking of “arrows that carry fire”! Specifically, he is picturing those arrows the were made from long, slender pieces of cane, and were filled with combustible fluids which exploded upon impact.”
Rick Renner then applies this fiery dart imagery to the devil causing inflammation in our emotions.
“He (the devil) may shoot a fire-bearing arrow into your emotions! When they hit, they have the potential of arousing the worse and vilest of human emotions and passions.
When a flaming arrow from the enemy hits its target - your emotions – it can throw the emotions into rage, anger, anxiety, unbelief, worry, and so forth.”
Dressed to Kill – Rick Renner – Page 229-230
Again, the fiery dart was a specific weapon in the Roman arsenal that had a combustible tip. When the arrow made impact, it would explode with fire. This is the picture of the devil’s deceptive work in our lives.
Fiery darts are symbolic of when the enemy exploits our lifetime stories inflaming us with our own flaws and imperfections. While the devil uses circumstances as threat-references, the deeper threats always comes back to our own vulnerabilities, and what they mean for our survival and belonging. Our past relationship and emotional injuries are used to confirm our greatest fears. These emotional memories reach all the way back into childhood. Our brain holds onto them for survival and to assess threats against our sense of belonging. The devil knows this and intends to leverage this against us by shooting “triggering” thoughts, threats, and worst-case scenarios. These emotions are not superficial; they are deeply processed into our very identity.
Our capacity for both “positive” and “negative” emotions is a necessary gift from God. Emotional awareness, and seeing emotions as a gift from God, will make us curious as to where these emotions are originating within us. By investigating them we can identify what the past grief-memories are, and the present narratives that are inflaming us. This is the basis of “renewing the mind.” A mind is not renewed until the emotions are also renewed.
Spiritual warfare is managing the emotional circuits of our life as the enemy is trying to disrupt us with emotional intensity around these ideas, narratives, scripts and false beliefs formed throughout our lives.
Hebrews 12:14-15 again points us to how “roots of bitterness” will spring up to trouble us and defile us. “Roots of bitterness” refer to grievous stories of loss, including trauma, abuse and negligence from those we trusted most. The fact they “spring up” means we weren’t expecting it. We were hijacked.
Pursue peace with all [people], and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. HEBREWS 12:14-15 NKJV
Both these texts from Ephesians and Hebrews show the acknowledgement of emotional systems the enemy uses to disrupt us. However, the emotions are not our enemy. Even the “negative” emotions are designed to be information centers, giving us insights as to the fiery darts exploding in our emotional belief patterns.
“Emotional belief patterns” refer to what we emote when we think of God, or His Redemptive truths. It refers to what we emote when we think of ourselves, our identity, our social networks, our survival and our belonging.
When we are thinking of God - feeling the memories of multiple disappointments from the past and those happening in our lives in the present – when we have lost a job, the kids got sick, our car broke down, and the air conditioning went out, etc. – now what do we emote? These are emotional belief patterns. Doctrine alone… theological cognitions alone… can never stop the electrical power of these emotional surges.
The devil wants to disrupt these godly and sincere belief patterns so we will not believe God on an emotional level. He wants us to simply believe God on a conceptual, scholarly, doctrinal and academic level. The devil’s fiery darts and the strategic deceptions bring about cognitive dissonance - the state of having mentally and academically believing one thing while having controlling opposing thoughts, emotions, beliefs, attitudes, and ultimately our manner of life. We “believe” and want one thing but live out another.
The enemy is real. The devil is twisting reality and truth. His strategy is jacking with our perception; what we think God, about ourselves and what we think about others. He deceives us at subconscious levels threatening our sense of survival and belonging. The deception is not surface, it reaches down into our emotions, inflaming them.
When we know this and know that emotions are a gift from God… even the “negative” ones, we can use our emotions to find out what the devil is exploiting. We follow the emotion trail, asking each emotional attribute what the narratives are, we can discover the grief pockets that are giving energy to our dissonance.
EMOTIONS ARE SPIRITUAL AFTER ALL
Emotions are not demonically embedded viruses in humans. Emotions are not in conflict with a robust relationship with God. Emotions are fundamental to God, and therefore are fundamental to humans.
Emotions are designed to support our walk with God. They are designed to give us power to execute God’s will, stand for justice, bond in intimacy to God and His Word, to live out the uncompromising faith of Jesus.
SEGWAY TO FUTURE ENEWSLETTERS
In future chapters of our e-newsletter we will continue this exploration of emotions:
· Emotions aren’t what randomly happen TO us; they are to happen WITH us.
Also, you can see the following in our past few ENewsletter posts:
· Emotions are spiritual.
· God is an emotional being.
· God’s emotions are unique in contrast to human emotions.
· Emotions are purposed and can be studied.
· Emotions are experiential – You can’t have an experience without an emotional component.
· “Emotionalism” is not the same as “emotional”.
QUESTIONS TO REFLECT ON
What skill level do you presently have for following the emotional narrative-trail to find the deepest part of disruptive and misaligned thought roots?
How will you take “next steps” to mature in emotional intelligence?
Who will you invite to guide you in your journey?
Red Ink Revival has several opportunities for Pastors/Ministry leaders to be coached and learn how to explore their neurocircuits the subconscious grief memories have created. To find out more go to redinkrevival.com/zoom-events .