The great enemy of self-control is feeling. I do not refer to feeling as rightly ordered sentiment, which is an essential part of what it means to be human. Rather, I am referring to the modern and very pernicious habit of making feelings foundational to all arguments.
And by all arguments, I mean political arguments, family arguments, business arguments, and underneath it all, theological arguments.
One of the most obvious things about feelings is that they vary. They go up and down. They slide back and forth. They are rickety. If you build your life, your family, your business, your theological convictions on the wobbly surface of these feelings, what happens? When your feelings go up and down, absolutely everything goes up and down.
We see this problem in how moderns hold their wedding vows. They promised to be faithful, regardless of feelings, and they keep their promises . . . until their feelings change. Then they are in a whole new world, and the world applauds them for treachery, just so long as the feelings that led them into treachery were sincerely felt.
Your life should be built on fact. Theological fact first. The way the world actually is, second, meaning natural revelation. I would put math third. All such facts are just the way a foundation ought to be—hard, cold, rigid concrete. It doesn’t wobble. If you anchor your feelings to such facts, the end result is that your feelings will be disciplined by them, and you will finally be able to enjoy your feelings. Feelings are like children—when they are wild and undisciplined they are no fun at all. Little hellions is what they are. Nothing worse than chaotic feelings with runny noses.
Jesus is Lord whether or not you are grumpy this morning. Theological fact. Men are supposed to be attracted to women and vice versa, and not to a member of the same sex. Natural fact. Your checking account has less money in it than that shiny new toy costs. Math fact.
Feelings are therefore what needs to be disciplined. Feelings must never be made the taskmaster.