Our Need for Emotional Sanctification: Christian Coen
It seems that coffee has always been my favorite beverage. I remember my first cup: instant coffee with milk and at least three tablespoons of sugar. I remember how delicious it was and the relaxing and peaceful feeling it gave me as I drank it. Every time I have a cup, I almost always tell my husband it is the best cup I’ve ever had. There is just something about coffee that is satisfying and comforting for me.
A few weeks ago, we arrived back home from a pastor’s conference, and I was spending the day trying to get things back in order. Everything was not lining up that day: the children were not listening; we had a new dog that was making messes, and on top of all that I could not find my phone. My husband could see my stress and offered to get us coffee later. I was so excited anticipating the “relief” the beverage would bring. Long story short, once everyone had settled down, my husband and I had to spend two hours trying to find my phone which just happened to be under a tablecloth. At the end of our search, it was too late to get coffee since dinner was soon and we really wouldn’t have much time to enjoy it.
At that moment, I lost it. I let my emotions of the stressful day take over. I got upset over losing a phone, upset with my husband for not getting me the cup of coffee I “deserved” for the day I had experienced, and upset over not having the “relief” the coffee would bring. After a few minutes of letting these emotions explode, I had to ask for forgiveness from my husband who, despite my foolish anger and attitude, was patient and calm with me. I had to ask for forgiveness from God, for my selfishness in the day He had created for me to live in accordance for His glory. I also had to ask Him for the forgiveness in my idolatry of coffee. I had to remember that Christ can only give peace and satisfaction despite our foolishness in finding the good gifts he gives as greater pleasures that cannot match the satisfaction found in Him.
Emotions are a part of all humanity. They are more prevalently seen in us as women. From the beginning God has set us apart for His glory (Genesis 1:26-27). We as women are called to be nurtures and caretakers of our family and home (Titus 2). We have a desire to follow and love our husbands and care for their needs as well as for our children (Ephesians 5-6). God has given us as women a nature that is sensitive to the needs of others as well as being attune to what is going on inside our own hearts. God knows we are emotional beings, because He created us in this way to honor Him. Even though He created us with distinct emotions, it doesn’t mean we should use them for manipulation, selfish gain, or let them fly away free because we are who we are. Our emotions should be a display of God’s glory and not a display of our sinful nature. We need to remember the God who created our emotions. He knows how we feel and will give us the ability to fight the sin within our emotional behavior.
Our emotions are not only God given, but the Father sent the Son to help us acknowledge how we should handle them in light of His glory. In order to understand God’s desire for our emotions, we must first recognize Jesus’ divinity and humanity through the Hypostatic Union – the personal union of his two natures: 100% God and 100% man. As a human being, Jesus experienced life as we do: He was born (Luke 2:7), grew up (Luke 2:40, 52), became tired (John 4:6), was thirsty (John 19:28) and hungry (Matt 4:2), physically weak in fasting (Matt. 4:11) and even experienced death (Mark 15). Jesus had a human soul and emotions too: He marveled at the centurion’s faith (Matt. 8:10), had sorrow at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35), and prayed with emotions of “loud cries and tears” (Heb. 5:7). Despite all the earthly and physical emotions He experienced, Christ was still fully-God and displayed His deity through his reactions.
Hebrews 4:15 expresses that Jesus’ humanity did not prohibit God’s glory: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Never once did he become “hangry” when he had to wait longer to eat in order to serve someone else’s needs. Never once did he allow his grief over the loss of his earthly father, Joseph, or his friend Lazarus plague his mind to the point he didn’t care about himself, his family, or disciples. He didn’t allow his tired body to lead to laziness or gluttonous behavior. He allowed the glory of God to be the driving force of His earthly humanity and ministry.
Christ came to preach the gospel and point others to “repent and believe” it (Mark 1:15), even with the emotions and life circumstances they face. Despite our sinfulness in how we deal with others in emotional ways and the frustrations of life, Christ gives us the hope and model for how we should live. Hebrews 4:16 proclaims, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” With Christ as our sure and steady anchor, we can have stability in the storms of our emotional distress. He exceeded in every part of life that we fail. This should bring us comfort and his example should bring us hope for the resurrected life to come where emotions will be rightly placed in glorifying and honoring our Creator.
Thankfully, after our risen Savior left us, He sent our Comforter, the Holy Spirit to be the helper of God in believers and to remind us of our Creator and the glory we are to display for Him. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are the critical truth givers that God has given us to fight against the emotions that transform our minds from believers of truth to believers of false identity. Without the inward dwelling of the Holy Spirit, we would not have the conviction of knowing our sinful behavior in times when we choose to believe our emotions over Scriptural truths. Without the Bible, we would submit ourselves to personal knowledge of what we think over the biblical mandate of God’s designed order and peace He gives in times when our emotions become truth rather than the reality of Emmanuel. We can submit our emotions to God knowing he has given us the power to fight sinful behavior with the truth.
So where do we go from here? How can we fight the emotional waves we face daily whether circumstantial or biological? How can we as women trust the gospel when our daily life wants us to run away and hide or become selfish and prideful due to the day we have had?
First, we must continually remember the gospel. Jesus is the greatest example of resisting emotional lows and highs and submitting to the Father’s will despite the trials he faced. He continually remembered that God’s greatest will for us is to follow and trust Him. Since Jesus did just as the Father asked, not only was the Father’s will accomplished but He was most glorified. Even up until His death, Jesus continued to state in His prayers, “Not my will, but yours” (Luke 22:42). Let us remember that the gospel is not about our emotional wants and desires, but about our need for the Savior and his ability to satisfy and respond to our needs. When we trust the will of the Father over our personal selfishness, we are most glorifying God with our emotions and our life.
Second, we must saturate ourselves with the Word. If we genuinely believe that the Bible is truth, this changes everything, even our emotions. Scripture memorization can be a key element in guarding our emotions with the gospel. When I become frustrated with my little ones or am tired from the day and the last thing I want to do is read a superhero book again, I remind myself of Psalm 127:3-4, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.” Not only does the Scripture bring back to mind that my children are a gift from God, but I am to train them to love and obey God. I am to love them as Christ would even with my emotional discomfort or circumstances that surround me. I am to be an example of the gospel to them. We must let “sword of the spirit” (Ephesians 3:17) be our defense when circumstances and emotions arouse the sinful humanity within us.
Third, we must consistently be in fellowship with our local church. If we desire to follow Christ and His Word, we should desire and belong to a body of believers that are not only encouraging us in the gospel but speaking its truth to us when we are not submissive to it. Through discipleship relationships, we not only hear the gospel intentionally but are surrounded by those who have been radically transformed by it and desire us to grow in Christ. Not only will believers encourage us, but they will show us where our emotions are out of line. They will willingly and graciously correct us when our emotional desire or circumstances manipulate our hearts and minds away from the gospel. We should not be afraid of this; we should embrace discipleship that involves discipline for the purpose of godliness.
By God’s graciousness to his children, we as daughters of the King can acknowledge the Father’s divine plan for our emotional nature. God the Father outflows his love to us by giving us His Son as an example of handling our emotions in a way that most glorifies Him. Not only did He send His Son, but God has given us His Spirit, His Word and His church to help us identify and acknowledge our sin, remind of us of God’s atoning work in our lives, and sanctify our hearts and minds that can become consumed with the daily chaos and emotional instabilities of this life. Lord, in the midst of this emotional and chaotic life, bring us back to the sanctifying, satisfying and comforting work of the gospel, which is better than any cup of coffee out there.
My name is Christian Coen. I graduated from The College at Southeastern in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies and English. Soon after I married my husband William (who is also a SEBTS alumnus), had two little boys, William Carl and Jackson, and am now serving alongside my husband, who is the pastor of Skypointe Church in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. I am a homeschooling SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) who loves to cook, paint, travel, and serve the local church. I was born and raised in Durham, NC, but as we say in South Carolina "nothing could be finer" than living here.