A few days back, my 10 yr old daughter had found some money. She didn't know if the money was hers or not. She had found it in an old purse my daughters' share. She wondered whether the money was hers or one of her sisters.... what to do, what to do..... keep it ... or not.....
She came to me and explained her situation. I listened and told her to pray about it. I told her if the money wasn't truly hers and she "knew" it, then she would most likely have little joy in spending it! I told her to ask God and wait for an answer. That seemed to appease her and she did just that. A few minutes later she came downstairs and said she was going to "keep it" and upon asking her if God had told her to do that, she said "well, no.... but I sure feel like it!" I encouraged her to let the Lord lead her on this one. For the next few hours she went back forth wondering if she should keep the money or not... one second she "felt" she should ... the next minute she didn't.... the result: confusion!
She also talked to my husband about it. ( he is a practicing LDS) He encouraged her to pray about it too.... but instead of telling her to wait for God to answer, he told her to see how she "feels about" it after praying. If she feels "good" about keeping it, then she should. If she doesn't "feel good" about it then she shouldn't. My daughter , told her daddy that it doesn't work that way. She shared w/ him her struggle to give this issue to God and *not* rely on her feelings.. because her feelings were "selfish" and wanting to keep the money, regardless of "whose" it was. Her daddy didn't agree and a discussion ensued. She got out her Bible and shared the following verse with her daddy:
" The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jer. 17:9
My daughter then proceeded to tell her daddy that she can't trust her heart, because her heart is selfish and wants to keep the money regardless of what God would want her to do.
My husband and I later discussed the situation. He is a practicing LDS and believes that thru the promptings of the Holy Spirit ( thru feelings given to the heart) a person is able to know what to do in a given situation. That means, if a person feels peace and good about something then they can know that God is approving of that. I explained to him, that the bible does not teach such a thing, but rather teaches us that our heart is "deceitful" and desperately wicked. How can we trust our hearts in making choices, when our heart can deceive us? Our hearts naturally, apart from God's redeeming grace, is described as "deceitful". Therefore man can not trust his own heart solely, but must leave all to God.
Because my heart feels "good" about something then that means God is giving me the go ahead? How can I be sure my heart isn't being selfish? Lots of times I may feel "good" something.. but that doesn't mean God views it that way.
As a Christian, I make sure to check what God has to say about things before I make a decision. I check my views with what God has revealed, and if my views are not in harmony with God's revealed Word, then I can be *sure* that I have been deceived.
" The hearts of men, moreover are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live and afterward they join the dead." Ecc 9:3 NIV
The Lord speaking of the children of Isreal whom He had brought out of Egypt:
" But they did not listen or pay attention, instead they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts." Jer. 11:8
When I was an LDS missionary, I taught those who were investigating the LDS faith to "pray about" the things I was teaching them. I told them that if they prayed with a sincere heart, with real intent , the Holy Ghost would manifest the truth of what I was teaching them. ( Moroni 10:3-5) When I returned to their homes, one of the first things I would ask them was "if they had prayed" and if they had, how had they "felt" while they prayed and after they prayed.
We used the passage from Galatians 5:22-23, as a gauge to teach those investigating Mormonism that if they felt "peace, love, joy, etc" they were receiving an answer from the Holy Ghost telling them that the things I was teaching were true. They had received a "testimony" . I encouraged investigators to focus on their "feelings".... did they feel peace upon praying? Did they feel any physical manifestations like a warm heart or did they begin to cry and get emotional? All of these manifestations were taught to be from the Holy Ghost. Interestingly I never taught those investigating to compare the teachings of Mormonism with the Bible and it's teachings . I never once told those whom I taught to "test" out the Mormon's claims and research out the back round of it's church, history, leaders, etc. No, most definitely the focus was on the "feelings" people were experiencing.
The same rules are used today by many LDS for receiving answers to prayers. If they feel peace,and good about something, then that is a "yes" answer. That was what my husband was trying to tell my daughter about her issue with the money she had found. If she felt "good" about it, then that was the Holy Ghost confirming to her that she should keep it.
My concern with that pattern is 1. it's not biblical. 2. it opens one up for being emotionally driven instead of being driven by solid truth and 3. it's leads to confusion
For LDS readers , you may ask "how so"?
1. It's not biblical: No where in the Bible does the Lord tell us to use our feelings as a guide to determine truth, or find answers to questions. On the contrary we are told to "trust the Lord with all our hearts"..... Proverbs 3:5-6 and "lean not unto our own understanding. Be not wise in thine own eyes and depart from evil." We are being warned in this passage to trust GOD , not our own understanding, our own hearts. We are not to be "wise" in our own eyes. Why? Because we are naturally interested in our own selfish ways! As believers, we are to trust GOD, not ourselves. Not our hearts, not our feelings but God.
2. It opens one up for being emotionally driven: When we focus too much on our feelings... we can become immune to what God has already revealed and spoken. For example, if God says we are not to fornicate or commit adultery, it doesn't matter how much I "feel like" I may be in love with another person. I am a married woman. Regardless of my feelings, I am to not look at another man, for to do so would be to commit adultery. Not even to peek at a man to lust after. God's word is pretty clear. I don't need to "pray" about such a thing or focus on my "feelings" . Focusing on feelings has led many many a soul into adulterous relationships. Our feelings are simply not safe enough to trust. We need God's wisdom.
3. It leads to confusion: Simply put our God is not a God of confusion. He does not work in confusing ways. If we are confused, we can now for a surety God is not in it. If we trust our feelings for answers, we may find ourselves confused. In all honesty, especially for women, our feelings are constantly changing! Our feelings are effected by how much we sleep, eat, the weather, stresses in life, etc. They can change from one hour to the next... how can we possibly trust our heart to lead us? We can't. God is to lead us. We are to trust in God, not our feelings.
Recently a good friend of mine, who was born and raised LDS mentioned to me , after attending my church for prayer meeting, that she had felt the "tingling up the back , goosebumps, and a burning in the heart" while at the prayer meeting .... according to her LDS beliefs, she then could conclude that "my church" was the correct church to attend, right? She sincerely wanted to know what I thought. I told her that the "feelings" she experienced at prayer meeting, were simply that... "feelings". Emotional expressions and responses to the heartfelt prayers she heard offered up. They were not to be taken as any manifestation from the Holy Ghost. They were the tender feelings of her heart, but not to be equated with "truth" .
Many LDS stay LDS because of their "testimonies". They have felt the goosebumps, chills, and a warm fuzzy feeling in the heart. They sincerely believe this is how God reveals truth to them. As sincere as they may be, and I don't deny in any way that they experience these feelings, I would point out that they are simply that... "feelings" nothing more and nothing less. My concern is that many souls are basing truth on feelings, instead of God's Word.
So how does one know truth? How can one know what God's will is for you? May I share with you a passage from the book of John, these are red letter verses:
" If ye continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31-32
Jesus identifies the true disciples as those who believe in Him, and continue in His word, unlike the Jews who did not believe, disciples will be freed from sin by the truth. ( Jesus it the TRUTH) They will not be sinless , but blameless -- free from the power and eternal effects of sin ( death & hell).
We can know God's will for us , by reading what He has said and spoken in His revealed word , the Bible. I am constantly amazed at how much ground God has covered! I have yet to face a problem that has not already been dealt about and written about in the Bible!! When I have a problem, I turn to the Lord and seek for answers in His Word. I also wait for God to open doors and close doors. That is, if something is not for me, God will close the door. Literally. We must ask according to His will.
Never, am I told to rely on my heart or my feelings. This is precisely what my daughter my husband that day with her money issue. The heart is a deceptive thing. To trust our hearts, we could be led to sin. We should seek out God's will, continue in His Word, and trust in Him with all our hearts. My 10 yr old daughter has also learned to trust God, not her heart. God is growing her in HIS Word and revealing Himself to her daily as she studies His Word. As tempting as it may be, our hearts can not be trusted. We need God's wisdom, guidance and direction in our lives if we hope to navigate our lives. I am so grateful God is teaching my 10 yr old daughter that as well as me!