Introduction: Does the Bible seem to be a good place to learn about
human emotions? Consider Galatians 5:22-23 which says that the
“fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and
self-control.” How many of those fruits are either emotions or
closely connected to emotion? Anyone who has read Robert Whitaker’s
book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, has serious doubts about consulting
science to cure emotional and mental problems. His book describes
the fact that in the United States we have a huge increase in the
number of emotionally impaired people which began with the
development of drugs to treat mental problems. His thesis is that
using the current drugs is like throwing rocks into a sophisticated
machine. Drugs simply make the problem worse. Whether or not science
has the answers I am not qualified to say, but let’s jump into our
series of studies to see what answers are in the Bible!

  1. Your Role in Positive Emotions

    1. Read Galatians 5:16-17. Do you suffer from emotional
      conflict? Are your emotions sometimes out of control or
      not what you would want them to be?

      1. What kind of conflict does Paul teach us is the
        experience of every human?(Paul tells us that our
        sinful nature wants to do one thing and the Holy
        Spirit wants us to do another. The two are in
        conflict so that we find ourselves doing what we do
        not want to do.)

      2. What is the key to right living? (Living a life led
        by the Holy Spirit.)

    2. Read Galatians 5:19-21. In this list of what Paul calls
      “acts of the sinful nature,” do you find any emotions?

      1. What does this mixture suggest?(It suggests that
        negative emotions are part of our natural, sinful
        nature. We get these without requesting them!
        Second, it suggests that negative emotions have some
        sort of connection with negative actions.)

    3. Read Galatians 5:22-25. We discussed in the introduction
      that these are emotions or are closely connected with
      emotions. Are these positive emotions, emotions that you
      would like to be a part of your life?

      1. How do we obtain these emotions? Or, are they
        completely beyond the power of choice? (Choice is a
        factor. First, it is a factor in our choice to “live
        by the Spirit.” Second, Paul tells us that we can
        “crucify” our sinful nature.)

      2. How many of you have difficulty living by the Spirit
        and crucifying your sinful nature? (If you are like
        me, your hand is raised. I’m not sure that success
        is easy, but I am sure that the Bible teaches us
        that choice is a factor in our human emotions.)

    4. Read Colossians 3:5-10. How many negative emotions do we
      find listed in these verses? (Several.)

      1. What influence do we have over these negative
        emotions? (Paul tells us to “rid” ourselves of

    5. Read Colossians 3:12-14. Again, we see some positive
      emotions and the suggestion that we have an influence
      over our emotions. What specific actions do these verses
      suggest that we can take? (“Bear” and “forgive.”)

      1. Are these choices?

      2. Notice that Paul says “love” will bind us in perfect
        unity. Can we choose to love? Or, is that an
        uncontrollable emotion?

        1. Let’s assume you do not love someone, but you
          want to pretend to love them. How would you do
          it? (You would be nice to that person. You
          would be generous. You would treat that person
          as you would want to be treated. That sounds
          like “bear” and “forgive,” doesn’t it?)

          1. Is this a Biblical prescription for
            treating emotional problems? (If you are
            like me, some of my happiest times are
            when I help someone and they appreciate
            it. Being kind and loving to others is jet
            fuel for positive emotions. Being kind and
            considerate is a decision. It is not
            outside the realm of free choice.)

  2. A Biblical Example

    1. Read 2 Samuel 13:1-2. Is Amnon suffering from an
      emotional problem? (Yes. It made him physically ill.)

      1. Read Leviticus 18:11. What does it say about Amnon’s
        desires? (That he could not marry Tamar.)

    2. Read 2 Samuel 13:3-6. Does Amnon have a choice to make
      here about feeding his negative emotions?

      1. Is there a parallel here to your life? Do you
        wrestle with negative emotions that you feed by your
        poor choices?

    3. Read 2 Samuel 13:9-11. Up to this point what bad choices
      has Amnon made? (He has lied to get Tamar into his
      bedroom. He has sent everyone out so he is alone with
      her. Now he seems to be forcing her to have sex with

    4. Read 2 Samuel 13:12-14. Is this sin an accident? Has
      Amnon been fully warned of the nature of his sin? (Amnon
      has been running all sorts of “red lights” to come to
      this low point. He has let his unchecked emotions become
      terrible behavior.)

      1. Re-read Colossians 3:5. What could Amnon have been
        doing instead? (Paul says that the emotions which
        led up to this are subject to our choice. We have
        the ability to “put to death” these emotions.)

    5. Read 2 Samuel 13:15. Is Amnon suffering from emotional

      1. To what extent can we now see that these problems
        are connected to his bad decisions?

    6. Read 2 Samuel 13:17-20. Is Tamar suffering from emotional

      1. Is there anything that she could have done
        differently to avoid her current emotional problems?

        1. What do the situations of Amnon and Tamar teach
          us about emotional difficulties? (Some are the
          results of our poor choices, and some come
          through no fault of our own.)

    7. Read 2 Samuel 13:21-22 and 2 Samuel 13:28-29. Is Absalom
      suffering from an emotional problem?

      1. Is this his fault?

      2. What could Absalom have done to avoid letting his
        emotional problem get to the point of murder?
        ( Galatians 5:20 tells us that hatred is part of our
        sinful nature, and living by the Spirit is a cure
        for our sinful nature.)

  3. Jesus’ Commentary on Emotions

    1. Read John 16:20. In our Bible study we have seen a
      connection between good emotions and living a life led by
      the Holy Spirit. What does this text suggest about that
      connection? (The world, which presumably does not live by
      the Spirit, is rejoicing while those led by the Spirit

      1. Scan the context of John 16:20. What light does it
        bring to Jesus’ statement? (The reason for grief is
        that Jesus will soon be arrested and crucified.)

        1. What does this suggest about the Christian and
          human emotions? (That circumstances outside our
          control will cause us grief – while the world
          rejoices in evil.)

    2. Read John 16:21-22. What is the ultimate hope for our
      emotional difficulties? (They are temporary. They are
      worth-while in light of the fact that Jesus is coming
      again to bring joy!)

    3. Read Matthew 26:36-38. What emotion is Jesus suffering?

      1. When we consider that Jesus suffered negative
        emotions, what should we conclude about emotional
        problems and sin? (Emotional difficulties seem much
        like many other difficulties. In general, living a
        Spirit-led life brings positive emotions. Living a
        life led by our human nature brings negative
        emotions. However, we live in an evil world with
        evil people – and they can cause us to suffer
        emotionally. Not until the return of Jesus will our
        problems, including our emotional problems, be

    4. Friend, will you determine today to improve your
      emotional health by asking the Holy Spirit to lead in
      your life? Why not ask right now?

  4. Next week: Divine Provision for Anxiety.