The journey of a nerd who loves the Lord

Do Not Follow Your Heart

The common saying, “Follow your heart” borders on becoming a cliche.  Entire books and movies are dedicated to this notion.  At some point, the hero realizes that all of his problems will work out if he or she simply listens to their heart.  The Disney movie, “Mulan” uses it as a theme song.  Yet, the Bible comes packed with warnings on the subject, telling us that our ‘heart is deceitful above all things (Jer 17.9).   Our heart, or emotions, make terrible guides.  Consider this passage from Luke.

bibleLuke 22.39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.  45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.

Jesus Christ experienced hematohidrosis while praying in the garden of Gethsemane before his crucification as mentioned in the Defenders Bible by Physician Luke as “and being in anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” ( )

It is clear from the above that neither Jesus nor the disciples had a warm, calm feeling about what they needed to do.  Jesus himself was so stressed, he sweated blood.  We see other similar stories.  For example, Job was clearly stressed about all of the events going on in his life that he questioned why he was even born (Job 3).  Yet, this was all part of God’s plan.  He felt no peace about it even though Job was a very faithful man (Job 2.3).  Doing what is right sometimes (some would say ‘often’) comes with stress or unease.  We have to intellectually do what we know is right even though our heart/emotions want us to run in the opposite direction.  

BibleI really like this article by Jon Bloom (From Desiring God) that talks about how emotions are gauges, but not directions.  For example, sinners like homosexuals really take pleasure and peace from practicing that lifestyle.  How many times have we heard that a gay person felt so much peace when they stopped denying who they were/hiding it, and ‘came out of the closet’ to embrace who they ‘truly’ are?  They feel peace, but that’s not because they are now right with God!  That’s because their emotions show where their true pleasure/joy is at… in sin.  It’s a reading to help them see what they really treasure.  “Deny yourself and pick up the cross” is hard (and often stressful).  Doing what your flesh/heart/etc want, even when it is sinful, leads to peace.  

Now, a Christian can know peace… You know your heart is in a better place when you truly have joy in Christ, and not as much with the things of this world (Sin, family, church, etc) .  That’s when things like suffering for Him, and the such can become peaceful/joyful.  However, Muslims and Hindu also take peace from their religions.  If you tell them to pray about the book of Mormon, it may stress them because it is a change from what they know.  Of course, God may change emotions to give a direction on something, but clearly He often does not (as we see from plenty of Bible examples.)  Conversely, we have plenty of examples and testimony of people who claim great feelings from religions we know lead them away from God.  That’s why we have to compare these things with what God says.  If someone preaches a gospel, compare it to Jesus Gospel.  If is different than that, well, Paul has some strong words for them (Gal 1.8).  Note that he says “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”  One top of emotions and intelligence, false prophets and churches, even angels can lead you astray.  


With that said, I also advise against the idea that we can figure everything important solely through rationalism.  The mind, as other things in life, have been impacted by the fall (emotions are not the only things easily left astray).  The Bible warns us of that as well “No human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor 2.9.  

You can find many warning in God’s Word about the folly of following either our emotions or our reasoning/intelligence.  How, therefore, may we know God’s direction for our life?  The solution is we must compare all things, including our emotional yearnings and our intellectual conclusions, with God’s Word.  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps 119.105)  .  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a]may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3.16-17).   We are essentially blind from a spiritual standpoint because neither our spirit or our intellect are really collaborated to God’s Will.  That’s why, over and over again, the Bible proclaims that we need to seek His Word for the answers we need.

P.S. Jon Bloom has a full book on the subject at .  I bought it so I could study more on the topic.


Comments on: "Do Not Follow Your Heart" (3)

  1. Excellent, eloquent post. And timely.

    The Bible, both the old and new testaments, says more about the human condition, and just as accurately, than any psychology book or self-help manual . . . maybe more accurately in some regards.

    Following one’s heart above all else is the road to damnation, usually on a personal level, while following so-called rationalism typically leads to mass starvation, deathcamps, and mass graves. I’ve definitely soured on “Enlightenment values” and the idea that the individual is all that matters, above all else, and that the will to power is the highest ideal. This is basically putting man above God, and we’ve seen how that turns out.

    • Indeed, Alex. Pride is a deadly sin, and we see soooo much of it among the intellectual atheists (and even intellectual religious apologists) of our time. Thank you for the note! I appreciate it!

      • My pleasure JC. You always write interesting stuff.

        Pride is a killer we all have to guard against. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the comedian Owen Benjamin, but I just listened to one of his YouTube streams and a commenter made an interesting point: you always have to be the beta to Jesus’s alpha, and when you put yourself above the Lord, you invite trouble. I thought that was an interesting, if colloquial way to put it.

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