Who is your worst critic? Who runs you down the most? It’s you isn’t it? Most people tell themselves things that, if spoken to others, would qualify as emotional abuse. That is why John talked about how to “set our hearts at rest… whenever our hearts condemn us.”
Because we start life disconnected from God’s Spirit, we adapt; we learn to trust our feelings instead, to assess our situation. But feelings are notoriously unreliable guides. You can be surrounded by people who love you and still feel insecure. You can have a problem at work and drag your feelings (anger, frutration, etc.) back home with you. But when we trust Jesus, He connects us to His Spirit. Now we can listen to His input and wean ourselves off trusting our feelings. We still have feelings, but we understand how subjective and unreliable they are. Jesus called His Spirit “the Spirit of Truth.” (John 14:17) As Jesus says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Freedom from having to trust our feelings, having access to the Spirit of Truth, comes with significant advantages:
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him. (1 John 3:21-22)
Marlon Brando played The Godfather with such skill, we could easily understand why people feared “the Don.” People in his presence acted with great reserve and an exaggerated show of respect. But there was one scene that showed him out in his garden, with his little grandson fooling around, trying to tackle him at the knees, laughing and playing. Perhaps it is wrong to illustrate anything about God with a movie about the Mafia. But can you see the freedom that comes when we know we can be confident in God’s presence, freely asking Him for things that we know will please Him? Can you picture yourself in short pants, tackling God about the knees? Laughing with Him in His garden?
Here is how:
And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us. (1 John 3:23-24 )