How often have you heard from Christianity not to trust your emotions? I know I have. As followers of Christ, we have been labelled by some as dry, seemingly lifeless, rule followers who repress their desires and live continually in self-punishment. But this is not the covenant under which we live.
“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.'” (Matthew 22:36-38; NIV; emphasis added)
On the surface, it appears Christ is simply telling us in this verse to make sure we love the Lord with everything we have. But He names each for a specific reason the heart, soul, and mind. The goal is the balance of these three independent, but connected, aspects of ourselves. If we only love the Lord with one or two of these aspects, we wind up living a distorted imitation of the Gospel, projecting a skewed Christianity to the world. How many people do you know who seem to love the Lord only with their mind? They might read every book they can get their hands on, perhaps they study Scripture regularly, or maybe they go to seminary; but their faith is cold and intellectual. They know of God without knowing Him intimately in a desperate way. How many people do you know who seem to be all over with their emotions? One day they might be filled with a raging fire for the work of the kingdom, only to spend the next day in unholy anger toward someone they love. They seem to burn so brightly for the Lord, but quickly fade away, because they only love Him with their heart- their emotions.
When we choose to love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, a marvelous transformation takes place. We are renewed in Him, and we come alive totally and completely. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2; NIV)
The Old Testament makes this renewal abundantly clear, explaining how we live under a new covenant in Christ. Christ came, “not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” The Lord gave us a picture under the Levitical Law of His own perfection, the price of sin, what it means to be holy and set apart, and His sovereign grace. But all of this was meant to point to Him who would fulfill and complete this law, Him being Christ. Here are just a couple verses of what God promised to do through the fulfillment of His law:
“‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.'” – Jeremiah 31:32
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” -Ezekiel 36:26-27
The reason we can love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, and minds is because He gave us them and showed us how to use them. When we accept a life with Christ, we become new creations in Him. Our spirit is born again. The old has gone, and the new has come. We become dead to sin. Paul, in his famous passage in Romans 7, outlines the essence of the Christian’s struggle with sin. But have we ever noticed the emphasis he places, and not just in this passage, but his other epistles also, on identity?
“As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”
He doesn’t even conjugate the first “do” to implicate the possibility of his own involvement in the sin. He makes it clear in Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, and almost every epistle he writes, that we have been given a completely new identity in Christ. A new name, a new hope, a new outlook. A new life. A new heart. A new mind. You are not your sin, nor your flesh. You are the new creation Christ has made you.
We have received new life for our souls, new hearts, and new minds through our adoption into the family of God. We can live in freedom, with passion and joy, and not in fear of ourselves. So live with adventure. Take risks. Follow Christ. He’ll turn your world upside down.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”