31 May 2010 (Shanee/Matzah)|
Day #77, 5934 AM
Blinded by Passion
Sorting Out and Redirecting Your Feelings
With a Passion Bible Study
Judging by its prominence in the art, literature and movies over the centuries, passion has always occupied a high place in human affairs. To be 'passionate' about something is, with few exceptions, seen as in some way a function of 'life' and of 'living' and therefore almost always good. When it comes to having a 'passion for convictions' it sometimes seems as though the passion is more important than the conviction, especially in what can otherwise seem to be humdrum lives.
The Bible has a lot to say about passion which is used in four different ways:
Let us take a look at these three latter passages quickly so that we have some context:
- 1. Suffering (and in particular, the suffering of Christ for us - 'Christ's Passion' (e.g. Ac.1:3);
- 2. Human nature or homoiopathes (e.g. Ac.14:15; Jas.5:17); and
- 3. Strong emotion, desire or pathos - often sexual in nature, concupiscence (e.g. Rom.1:26; Col.3:5; 1 Thes.4:5)
Finally, there is a fourth word which is closely related to the third:
"For this reason Elohim gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature" (Rom.1:26, NKJV).
"Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion (inordinate affection), evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col.3:5, NKJV).
"For this is the will of Elohim, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know Elohim" (1 Thess.4:3-5, NKJV).
Let us look at these too:
- 4. Strong emotion, desire or pathema (e.g. Rom.7:5; Gal.5:24;)
Thus the biblical term for passion in the negative sense is any strong emotion that originates in the fleshy, carnal or Adamic nature. How can we know what is carnal (and acceptable) and what is spiritual (and not acceptable)? Generally, it is any violent over-emotion that robs a man of his self-control but particularly and specifically it is any emotion that would lead you to break a commandment. So obviously the only way you are ever going to know what is a godly passion and what is an ungodly one is by studying the Scriptures to know what is acceptable to Yahweh and what is not. And the feelings or passions that stem from that which is unlawful must be crucified - literally, ruthlessly put to death.
"For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death" (Rom.7:5, NKJV).
"And those who are Messiah's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal.5:24, NKJV).
Passion, lust or strong emotion is itself morally neutral. It is what the passion is directed towards that makes it good or evil, acceptable or unacceptable, godly or devilish. A man who feels jealousy over another man looking adulterously at his wife is experiencing a righteous passion (for even God Himself is jealous of us - Ex.20:5; Josh.24:19) but a woman who is jealous of another woman whom she thinks is prettier than she is is clearly experiencing unrighteous passion and must repent. A man who is jealous of another because he is wealthier then him is experiencing ungodly jealousy but a woman jealously and aggressively guarding her children against some bad influence is experiencing godly jealousy. Jealousy is neither good nor evil - it is what you are jealous for that makes the strong emotion acceptable or unacceptable.
To know whether passion is good or evil necessarily means that you must recocognise what drives your feelings. It implies that there is both consciousness-awareness of what is right or wrong (which comes from knowing the Scriptures) and the ability to control your feelings until you have established their source. A hot-headed and emotionally uncontrolled person will react reflexly bypassing his mind and his spirit. A Ruach-controlled person has surrendered his feelings to Yah'shua so that when a feeling arises he will habitually present it to Yah'shua to measured both against His Word (which will be brought to his memory) and against the judgment of the Ruach haQodesh. This implies a complex interaction that recognises that someone else - Yah'shua (the Bridegroom) - is a permanent part of the process of self-control for us (the Bride). It follows that there is a parallel filtering system in the marriage relationship as well since the heavenly one is built on the pattern of marriage, which Yahweh Himself originated.
Other religions like Buddhism regard all passion as bad because emotions are seen as destructive things. This is only a half-truth. Emotions can be destructive but they are also Yahweh's gift to propell our being like a surfer who has mastered a wave and is joyfully riding it. We are supposed to master, not suppress or exterminate our feelings. Again, the Buddhists are half right - evil passions are to be destroyed but this is not something we can do in our own power without psychologically harming ourselves. Such negative feelings can only be reigned in and gently snuffed out by yielding them to Yah'shua. And we can only do that if we are genuinely surrendered to Him.
Not all passions have a positive and a negative side. Bitterness is not, for example, positive under any circumstances. Bitterness is like rottenness to the bones, consuming a soul to self-destruction:
Likewise, the pure Love of Yahweh - ahavah in Hebrew, agapé in Greek, is totally positive. Moreover, it always - without fail - acts in harmony with the commandments. You might have thought that Hate was always bad, but no, there are some things we are commanded to hate, and specifically, evil!
"Let all bitterness, wrath (fierce passion -linked to psyche, i.e. carnal anger), anger (violent passion, vengeance, the desire to punish), clamour (outcrying, screaming), and evil speaking (lashon hara) be put away from you, with all malice (wickedness). And be kind (show grace - unmerited favour) to one another, tenderhearted (sympathetic, compassionate), forgiving (delivering from guilt) one another, just as Elohim in Messiah forgave you" (Eph 4:31-32, NKJV).
Nevertheless we are to love evil people...not the evil deeds they do but the people themselves in spite of their wickedness for only in this was can we possibly turn them from their evil ways and forgive them as we are commanded to (Mt.6:12; Lk.6:35):
"Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate" (Amos 5:15, NKJV).
Emotions, feelings, passions definitely have their place in the Christian life but we have to expend the time to find out what is accepable and what is not, the effort to bring them under control, and the patience to ensure that we don't quit mid way or fall back on wicked habits. The way we handle our feelings is a measure of our maturity and a mark of whether we are the sons of our Father in heaven or His adversaries.
"Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?" (Matt.5:44-46, NKJV).
Passion is important but not all passion. We have to harvest the good and burn the evil passion with a determination as brutal as plucking out an evil eye or chopping off an evil hand (Mt.5:29-30). If unqualified passion rules in our hearts, it will blind us, destroy us, and burn up relationships, perhaps irrepairably. Passion is a gift to be used responsibly and wisely. Using it entails risks like using nuclear energy. Harness it right and you can do wonders; let it go amok and you can become the cause of terrible destruction. Some fear it so much that they demonise it, suppress it, hide it and put themselves to sleep. Others let it rule them so completely that it consumes them and those around them. Passion is like a horse to be mastered and ridden or a dragon to be slain. It is both and both must be faced. In both there is work to be done and it won't do itself and Yahweh won't do it all for you. You have to make choices, wrestle and overcome like an athelete in training. He will help you but not do your choosing for you. It can be a lifelong work but training when you are young makes the going a lot easier. In the Gospel you can and must teach 'an old dog new tricks' (it's never too late...never believe Satan's lie that it is) if you are converted late in your life. And if you are a young convert, praise Yahweh, for you have the opportunity to bridge your passions early and become highly productive for the Kingdom.
Begin by learning to bridle (control) your tongue - bring it under control, ride it like a horse, because this is where the passions usually first manifest themselves:
But that is not all Yahweh wants you to bridle - you wants you to bridle your whole body!
"If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless" (James 1:26, NKJV)
Do you hear this? The person who is able to bridle his tongue is able to bridle his whole body! Not only that, but this is a mark of the perfection to which Messiah has called us (Mt.5:48; Jn.17:23). The tongue, then, is not only an instrument of communication but was given by Yahweh as a sign of self-control and perfection. A bridled tongue is also a sign of patience and another sign of perfection:
"If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2, NKJV).
These things being undeniably true, what, then, do you think is one of Satan's objectives? To loosen your tongue in passionate lawlessness and kindle impatience. This will include bad language (swearing) and every man of evil-speaking. Passion-unharnassed is passion-destructive. We gather from his writings that Paul had a bit of a problem with his tongue and unbridled Benjamite passion which is perhaps why he was able to write so authoritatively on the subject as an overcomer. But he makes it clear that he had to strictly discipline himself in order to make himself productive for the Kingdom.
"But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:4, NKJV).
Octavia Butler, in an essay for aspiring writers, wrote:
"First, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you, whether you are inspired or not...Habit is persistence in practice."
As a writer myself, I can personally relate to and confirm this truth. I am often asked how I can sit down and churn out articles, essays, books and sermons day after day. The malicious and jealous ascribe it to a mental disease or compulsion but the truth is persistence and self-discipline applied over many years has enabled me to channel the fire Yahweh has given me for His Word. And when passion and inspiration are injected into the mix, 'magic' results.
I have little or no time for undisciplined artists for whom 'inspiration' is everything and self-control nothing. They are invariably libertines, parasites who produce nothing useful, and spend their days meditating on their own navels. Most of the modernists were, or are, spiritually dysfunctional. Don't get me wrong, I love art. My youngest daughter is a talented artist whom I encourage, my eldest a gifted musician. But art, to be useful, must serve interests other than ourselves. All creativity gives glory to someone: the question is - to whom?
I am grateful therefore for my schooling and military training. They engrained valuable habits into me. The vessel is everything because without it, there is no way you can fill it and drink from it. A vessel uncut or a vessel upturned is good for nothing. If you sit around waiting for your passions to suddenly propell you, you will fly around like a rocket with no guidance fins and eventually crash, or just sit around idle doing absolutely nothing 'waiting' for inspiration to 'come'. The kind of inspiration Yahweh gives is only sent to the self-disciplined. It was sent to Paul who was rigourously trained. It was sent to headstrong Peter who was transformed by the living Messiah within Him and the trials and tribulations which shaped him. It was sent to John the Baptist who was shaped by the harsh outdoors of the wilderness. It was sent to Elijah, Jeremiah, and to all the prophets. It was sent to the Virgin Mary because she pursued purity with devotion. It was sent to the prophetess Deborah because she had the guts to do what the liver-bellied men of her day were unwilling to do. It was sent to Abigail who threw herself at David's feet and became a stalwort wife. It is sent to all who will prepare a Torah-vessel of submission, obedience and discipline. For this is what shapes passion and gives it is direction, sending it on an even keel - a balanced trajectory - a straight road that deviates neither to the left or to the right:
Therefore we do not exalt passion as the world does for mostly its passion is wild and lawless. Yahweh is not like that. Yah'shua is not like that. Sadly, many like to portray Them as 'wild lovers'. They are not. Lovers, yes, but wild, no. There is purpose, direction, pattern and direction - always. It is never a matter of chance which implies ignorance. Theirs is a fire - an intelligent, loving, orderly, patterned, disciplined consuming fire - but it is a fire on course. Do what Octavia Butler did in her writing. Develop self-displine, order and pattern and then watch Yahweh fill it with His passionate fire and use you to do a mighty work and a wonder!
"And it shall be with him, and he shall read it (the Torah) all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Yahweh his Elohim and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel" (Deut.17:19-20, NKJV).
This is the Elohim I worship and love. I know no other and want to know no other. Hallelu-Yah!
A Study on the Development and Focus of Passion
to Stir the Souls of Men to Greatness in Yahweh
1. The biblical commandments regarding passion:
(a) In what areas are we commanded to be passionate? (Rom.12:11-13)
2. Insights into how to become passionate about the right things:
(b) i. What are we to be passionate about? ii. What will be the result of this passion? (1 Cor.15:58)
(c) What are the two requirements for being zealous/passionate? (Gal.4:18)
(d) What can we not allow ourselves to do in regard to being passionate? (Gal.6:9)
(e) What were believers urged to be passionate about? (Jude 1:3)
(a) What choice must be made about where to direct our passions? (Josh.24:15)
3. Enemy passions vs. righteous passion:
(b) What must be fully committed to Yahweh if we are going to have right passions? (1 Ki.15:14)
(c) How must we approach what Yahweh has directed us to do if we are going to be passionate? (Ezra 7:23)
(d) How should we go about doing what Yahweh has for us to do? (Eccl.9:10)
(e) What did Yah'shua do for Simon in regard to him remaining strong in the faith? (Mt.22:32)
(f) i. How did Paul serve the Master? ii. If we serve the Master half-heartedly how will our passion be affected? (Rom.1:9)
(g) What is the mistake some people make in regard to their passion/zeal? (Rom.10:2)
(h) What must we focus on if we are going to remain passionate for the Master? (2 Cor.4:16-19)
(i) i. What must we do with passions of the sin nature if we are to have godly passion? ii. How would this happen? (Gal.5:24)
(j) i. How must we view things that are not of Yahweh in order to have passion for Yahweh? ii. What must be the focus of our passion? (Phil.3:4-10)
(k) What is of greater value and more worthy of our passion than riches and glory? (Heb.11:24-26)
(a) What misdirected passion did the religious leaders of Yah'shua's day have? (Mt.23:15)
4. The way to direct our passions:
(b) What were new converts passionate about instead of Messiah? (Ac.21:20)
(c) What were three wrong passions that people were expressing? (Rom.1:24-25)
(d) What is the result of carrying out wrong passions? (Rom.7:5)
(e) i. What passions need to be put to death? ii. What are these passions doing to us? (Col.3:5-6)
(f) i. How do heathens (unbelievers) use their bodies? ii. How are believers to use their bodies? (1 Thes.4:4-5)
(a) How did King Josiah direct his passion against the idols that were in his kingdom? (2 Ki.23:4-14)
5. The results of having right passions in life:
(b) What things should we passionately work for? (Jn.6:27)
(c) i. What should we be focussed on in our passions? ii. Who tries to lead us away from that passion? (2 Cor.11:3)
(d) Why were the early believers able to endure difficult things in life? (Heb.10:34)
(e) What eight things do we need in order to have effectiveness in our passions? (2 Pet.1:5-8)
(a) What are two things that will come to those who live out godly passions? (Prov.11:30)
(b) What will be the result for those who passionately run the race of life for Yah'shua? (1 Cor.9:24-25)
(c) What are two good things that passionate sorrow will lead us to? (2 Cor.7:10-11)
(d) What was the result of the enthusiasm/passion of the Corinthian believers? (2 Cor.9:2)
(e) What should we make the most of? (Col.4:5-6)
(f) When we train ourselves in the right kind of passions what kind of promise will we have? (2 Tim.4:8)
 Bible Study, Richland Center Fellowship, Wisconsin