Question:

I think I messed up big time this past Sunday. During a song, my pastor stepped to the pulpit and gave an invitation to the lost. The Spirit moved so powerfully during the song that the preacher didn't get to preach that morning. I'm saved, but during this invitation, God was convicting me to go to the altar and let go of my anger and bitterness. I wouldn't go then, and I know that God isn't obligated to convict me over it again. I was raised to believe (and truly believe, not just because it's what I was taught) that true repentance comes from God sent conviction.

What's really worrisome to me is this: the biggest part of me just doesn't care. I basically blew off the Holy Spirit, and most of me doesn't care. I've left God out for so long. I'm confused, right and wrong are getting blurry. I keep having these waves of depression that feel like they're killing me, normally lasting an hour to a few hours. Literally the worst depression I've ever felt. Like I have no hope, no future, like I mean nothing to anyone, like it all might as well be over.

Whenever I used to have a problem I wouldn't talk to my parents or the preacher about, I told my brother. He's not here this time. Could this spiral all just be as simple as a grief response?

Honestly, I think I know what I have to do. I have to start giving up my bad habits and get back to the things of God, but, it's just so hard to. I honestly don't know why it is, it just is. I feel like I keep going back and forth between lukewarm and outright cold.

Do you have any words of wisdom to help me?


Answer:

While I know it is popular to talk about the Holy Spirit leading through emotions, the plain fact is that such is not biblically based. God said that emotions can be deceptive. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). But people have this tendency to assume that whatever they are feeling is coming from God. As evidence, look at what God said about the false prophets in Jeremiah's day: "Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD. They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You shall have peace"'; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.'" For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it?" (Jeremiah 23:16-18). It has long been a problem that people take what they think and what they feel and then try to increase its importance by saying those thoughts and feelings are from God.

The Spirit convicts people through His teachings. "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come" (John 16:7-13). Notice Spirit's weapon of choice: "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). When the Spirit leads, there is never a question about what the Spirit wants. See How Does the Holy Spirit Lead? for more on this topic.

None of this doesn't mean you shouldn't change. But I want you to change for the right reason -- not because of a feeling, but because you know what you ought to do. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25). This isn't a one shot offer. God has been and will continue to call you through His Word (John 6:44-45) to become more like Him. True repentance comes when you decide to change for the better. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11).

Repentance doesn't require waiting for a special moment. The best time to change is now. "For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2).

I'm willing to help, if you are willing to talk to me.