“Help Me If You Can, I’m Feeling Down:” How to Overcome Unwanted Feelings, Emotions, and Desires
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
- 2011 Mar 03
Musicians often know what the problem is, but they really don’t know the solution. When the Beatles sang, “Help, I need somebody, help, not just anybody,” no words could have been more true. Of course, they weren’t talking about the Lord Jesus as the “not just anybody” who could help, though He is the only one who can.
“Help me if you can, I’m feeling down” expresses a regular longing in our hearts. We have so many unwanted feelings, emotions, and desires. But, we can overcome them by knowing Christ. In Him, we have everything we need to handle what life throws at us and to be godly (2 Pet. 1:3).
Think further though. I frequently get questions like this:
Okay, I believe what you say about having everything we need for life and godliness and I know the Lord, but I’ve been struggling with (porn/ anger/ depression/ drugs) since I was twelve years old. I fight the feelings and do well for a while, but always fall, and then feel terrible. I see change in many other areas of my life, except in this area. I just don’t seem to be able to get victory. I know it’s wrong, I’ve confessed over and over again, I pray, and I want to change, but it seems hopeless. What should I start doing today to see God’s power make a change in me? I’m not even sure I know what God’s power means. Help!
Part of the answer to that question is in a person and not a method. We’re trained to look at methods and steps to solving problems when God’s solution is not like that at all. His solution is Himself. We know Him and as we keep our focus on Him, He changes us over time.
A person who truly knows God will increasingly love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. Do you truly hate anger or do you hate it at some level but derive satisfaction in it at another level? Do you justify it in the moment? You have to hate it. Do you hate porn or do you hate that you are drawn to it? Those are two different things. You might hate that you are drawn to porn because you know it’s wrong but you don’t hate porn if you’re constantly drawn to it. You love it. If you want to overcome porn, you can’t primarily focus on the fact that it’s wrong. You have to know God better. You have to develop your relationship with God. The more you know Him and love Him, the more you’ll hate porn itself.
So, there’s a sense in which there’s a method; you have to change your focus. That’s why Paul constantly tells us to renew our minds: it’s a matter of thinking about God and thinking like God. If you don’t think like God, you can do some things here and there but you don’t have a real heart to forsake what’s wrong and do what’s right. Your thinking has to change and only God can cause that. But He changes our thinking as we focus on Him!
Because God has saved us by His glory and virtue (character and strength), His divine power is at work in us. Peter further says that God has given us promises. As we reflect on those promises, we become more like God. He puts it this way:
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pet. 1:3-4).
Let’s break that down by going from the last phrase to the first. The world has been corrupted by (Adam’s) sin and has a corrupting influence on those who don’t know God. In their sinful state, people lust after the things of the world, (porn for example), and are further corrupted (Rom. 1:18f). We who know God, says Peter, have escaped that corruption. We’re not condemned and become more like Christ over time.
How do we become more like Christ? Peter says we become partakers of the divine nature. That doesn’t mean we become God. It means that God lives in us and changes us. The word “partakers” has to do with fellowship. We fellowship with God and He imparts more of His character to us. We become more godly, not merely in our actions, but in terms of who we are. He causes us to increasingly love what He loves and hate what He hates.
How can we foster this fellowship? Peter says we do so by the exceedingly great and precious promises He’s given us. We have to know and embrace them. God’s promises refer in one sense to His Word on the whole. It’s about His promises to save us, make us more like Christ, and bring us to glory. Those promises are exceedingly great because of what they relate to: life and godliness. They’re precious for the same reason.
Now, we believe God’s promise that Christ is more satisfying than anger for example. We focus on God by focusing on that promise and in so doing, we become partakers of the divine nature; we get His power to change working in us.
How do you overcome unwanted feelings, emotions, and desires? Fellowship with God by focusing on His promises. He’ll change you by giving you more love for Him and what He loves and more hate for those things He hates. When you hate feelings or actions that are sinful, you’ll overcome them. You’ll get real help when you’re feeling down.
Dr. Paul Dean invites you to discover more about yourself, God, and others . . . and develop a Christian worldview. Dr. Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. Receive a FREE commentary and learn more at http://www.trueworldview.com