Don’t Follow Your Heart

I believe that many people in our current culture follow their feelings more than rational thought.  They follow the popular saying, “Just follow your heart.”   They base their religion, morality, and view of life based on their own personal perspective and feelings.  And they don’t care if their own beliefs and morality are different from everyone else’s beliefs.  For them truth is relative to each person.  As a Christian I believe objective truth actually exists, and we need to believe what is true and live by that truth rather than our own feelings.  But of course non-Christians may believe that as well and still come to very different conclusions about what the truth is than the conclusions Christians come to.  But the starting point is to actually believe that real truth exists.  It would be much easier for me to debate with someone about what is true and not true about God, and what is really right and wrong in this life, with someone who doesn’t believe the Bible is God’s Word, but still believes there is absolute truth, rather than to debate with someone who thinks all truth is relative and we just need to follow our own feelings and do what seems right to us.  For example how can I debate the morality of crossdressing with someone who thinks morality is just a personal preference and there is no ultimate right or wrong?  With someone who accepts absolute truth as something that exists, we can move on to discuss how we can find out that truth, whether its scientific, religious, or moral truth.  Ultimately we would have to debate the reliability of Scripture.  But the reliability of Scripture is a topic outside the scope of this blog for now.

But for those of you who are Christians, who accept that absolute truth exists, and believe the Bible is God’s Word, let us keep in mind what God says about the truth.   We must NOT just follow our hearts.  We must NOT do whatever just seems good to us.  We must follow the teachings of God’s Word, and obey his commands, even when it goes against our cultural sensibilities.  As sinners we are often blind to the truth. Our reasoning is finite and flawed.  Our feelings are flawed as well.   Crossdressing or other sins might “feel” okay at times, but we need to have God’s Word as our authority rather than our own feelings.  If we try to figure out everything on our own we will get lost.  We need the light of God’s Word to give us the truth.

 

Psalm 81:11-1211 But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.

Psalm 111:1010 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him belongs eternal praise.

Proverbs 3:5-75 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.

Proverbs 12:15 – The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Proverbs 14:12There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 16:25There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Jeremiah 17:99 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 7:21-2421 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! 22 For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.”

Jeremiah 9:13-1413 The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. 14 Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them.”

Jeremiah 18:1212 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart. ’

John 8:1212 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

2 Timothy 4:33 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Jude 18-2018 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

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7 comments on “Don’t Follow Your Heart

  1. Eric says:

    I agree for the most part, but I think you need to examine where your heart is leading you. If your heart is drawn to a task that glorifies God then you should consider obeying your heart.

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  2. thorin25 says:

    Great point Eric. And as we grow in holiness through the Holy Spirit living in us, our heart starts to actually desire the right things, such as God himself, and doing what pleases him. In our sinful state we desire some things that are ugly, but as God works in us, we start to recognize real beauty, real truth, and our heart’s feelings start to be more in line with the truth. So I guess the point would be, “Don’t (just) follow your heart. Only follow it if it is line with what God says.”

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  3. thorin25 says:

    Another aside, I don’t think feelings are bad. But every aspect of us, our rationality, and our feelings are flawed by living in this Fallen world. Therefore to know the truth and feel the truth correctly, we need God’s Word. But I’m not saying that feelings don’t matter and only rationality matters. Feelings are important.

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  4. Ralph says:

    I think many times what we call “following the heart” or even “conscience” it is the Holy Spirit leading us or convicting us. The key is to make sure that what your “heart” tells you *is* the Holy Spirit, and we do this by making sure that what our heart says is in line with what God’s word says.

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  5. Imitations says:

    I find it interesting that you can say; “I believe that many people in our current culture follow their feelings more than rational thought “yet you do not see that you are doing exactly that.

    If one were to look at religion in an un-biased manner, one would surely conclude there is no rational thinking that can be applied to it other than one’s “own feelings” which we call Faith. Thus your brand of the Christian faith tells you what is true for you and the same holds true for other denominations of Christianity. Unfortunately, with so many “truths’ being held by Christians, one can only rely on ones “feelings” to discern what is true for them.

    You expound widely on “real truth” and “absolute truth” and so on, however you never do tell us exactly nor you define what this real truth is. It may be helpful Thorin for those who follow your posts if a clear definition is known.

    “The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it
    – John Stuart Mill”

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  6. thorin25 says:

    Hello imitations. First of all, I am not just following my feelings. I am following the Bible as my authority for what to believe because I believe it is God’s Word. Similarly a Muslim might follow the Quran instead of their own feelings. Similarly, an atheist might follow logical arguments against God’s existence. Those beliefs are all based on something besides one’s own feelings. What I am arguing against is the people who say we should just believe and do whatever seems good to us in our hearts, and they think it doesn’t matter if people have different beliefs because it’s all relative. They have no problem with everyone having their own morality or own private religion. But that doesn’t make sense. There is absolute truth out there on those topics as well, and sure I may be wrong, but at least I don’t pretend that let’s say both your beliefs about God and my beliefs about God could somehow both be true at the same time. Other people think that way, and that is what I’m arguing against.

    Secondly, I highly disagree with your statement – “If one were to look at religion in an un-biased manner, one would surely conclude there is no rational thinking that can be applied to it other than one’s “own feelings” which we call Faith.” But I’m not going to go off and write a lecture about that. If you want some good books to read on the subject, let me know, and I can suggest some. Faith is a component but not the only one. You may think looking in that the Christian faith is just about feelings (and I know you have some Catholic background), but as a Christian myself, who leads other Christians as a pastor, let me tell you that there is plenty of rational thinking both in understanding what the Bible says, and rational thinking for why we should believe the Bible or the Christian faith in the first place. Maybe that wasn’t the case in the groups of Christians you grew up with.

    You said – Unfortunately, with so many “truths’ being held by Christians, one can only rely on ones “feelings” to discern what is true for them. Do you think the same thing about scientists who disagree? Are they basing all of their essays and differing positions based on just their feelings? No, they are all looking at the evidence and coming to different conclusions. Similarly, most Christians, are looking at the Bible and trying to interpret it correctly, as it is intended to be interpreted, and yet they sometimes reach different conclusions, hence we have different denominations. This no more makes religion based on feelings than scientific views being based on feelings.

    I have been clear about what I believe is real truth and absolute truth. I was clear in this post even, I believe we get that truth from the Bible, which I believe is God’s Word. And Christians can also learn “truth” through studying this world, through rational thought. You can also see my page “My perspective.” There is absolute truth on a plethora of topics, so I’m not going to list every belief that I have, whether its 1+1=2 or that Jesus is God, or that murder is sinful, etc. So I’m not sure what more you want in my definition. And my main point when I talk about “real truth” or “absolute truth” is not primarily to say what I believe is the real truth (though I think it is), but my primary purpose, at least in recent posts, is to argue that such an absolute truth exists, and discussion and dialogue and debate and study can help us together figure out what that absolute truth is, in any given subject.

    Your quote by John Mill sounds pithy and nice, but what happens if my own perceived good comes into conflict with someone elses? It doesn’t ultimately work.

    Imitations, many of our conversations really come down to this. I’m writing from a Christian perspective, trying to help Christians. I do not mind at all your comments or others who challenge my views or have interesting dialogues. It’s good. Keep up the comments if you wish. But just keep in mind that the purpose of this blog is not an apologetic (defense) for the Christian faith and for the truth of the Bible. Since I am trying to help Christians, those things are presupposed. Make sense?

    It seems as though since I use the Bible in my arguments, (which I can easily do among Christians), I get a lot of flack from people saying my arguments make no sense or are not convincing, because why should they believe the Bible is true. That’s not surprising I guess since this blog is totally public. But for regulars like you, that would be something good for you to understand. Like I said, your questions are good, but I’m not going to write huge posts about why we should believe the Christian faith or the Bible. For those issues, I’ll point you to other books and articles that have already been written.

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  7. thorin25 says:

    Very simply said and well put Ralph. By the way, I just found your comment now, it was in my spam folder, not sure why. Usually your comments all go through just fine. Glad I found it.

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