By Brother Michel Lankford
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Neighbor, I thank you for your Question.
On the one hand, a person might be tempted to think that negative emotions are a always a sin, but negative emotions are not always sinful from God’s Kingdom point of view.
Sometimes negative emotions CAN be a sin, but other times they might NOT be a sin. It largely depends on WHAT the negative emotion is, and WHY the negative emotion emerged. It also depends on how one responds to the emotion, as to whether or not it becomes a sin. How long did you dwell on this emotion? Did you feed this negative emotion? Did you try to hide or suppress this emotion? Or, did you bring it to YHWH Almighty God, and do your best to deal with this emotion by applying biblical principles and attitudes?
God Himself has gotten angry; even brokenhearted at the sinfulness of man and what we’ve done to each other, (e.g. the flood of Noah; e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah). It did not make God happy that his righteousness required Him to punish people to that extreme, because the wickedness of humanity had gone so far, but His Righteousness left in no other good option, but to start over with Noah and his family. God is absolutely righteous. He CANNOT sin. Ergo, it must be possible to have negative emotions, and still remain completely righteous, as our Heavenly Father did. The critical part to remember is that the Almighty Heavenly Father was angry, and brokenhearted for the RIGHT reasons. That may not always be true with us, but when YHWH Almighty has negative emotions, His Righteousness is what generated those negative emotions. Again, this cannot always be said about our negative emotions. Still, it cannot be said that all negative emotions are sinful, because the perfect and righteous and Almighty God experienced negative emotions.
Jesus the Messiah got angry. We saw that when he cleaned out the money changers out of the temple, but we are told that his anger was a righteous zealousness for the holiness of God the Heavenly Father’s House. Again, we are told that Messiah’s motive behind His anger is what made it righteous.
Even after Messiah’s resurrection from the dead, believers are admonished by the apostle Paul in this way:
As It Is Written: “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
(Ephesians 4:25–26 NKJV)
So, we see here that it is possible for righteous people to be angry with each other. Ergo, all negative emotions CANNOT be all bad necessarily. Notice though, that we are cautioned not to sin while we are angry. So, it is possible to have the negative emotion of being angry, without committing sin. We do have to be careful however, because it is EASIER to fall into temptation and to sin, when your negative emotions are flaring up. The negative emotion itself might be justified, but it could drive me to forget myself and to sin, if I get carried away and forget myself while I’m experiencing the negative emotion.
IF we allow the negative emotions to become ingrained in us as a permanent way of thinking and a frequent way of responding to life situations; then yes, that would become sin to be negative in that context. Now, Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. We must make some critical distinctions.
There is a HUGE difference between a momentary negative feeling that is a temporary response to genuine pain, trauma, grief, sorrow or tragedy. That initial negative response is NOT a sin. An initial reaction of, ‘Ouch that really hurts. I don’t like going through this. I really wish that I didn’t have this pain or sorrow. I want and need God’s help to get past this and to build a better life.’ All those INITIAL responses to GENUINE sorrow is NOT a sin at all. That’s being honest, genuine and authentic; so long as we only allow those feelings to remain TEMPORARY and DO NOT allow them to become a PERMANENT negative mindset and a permanent negative attitude or a way of life.
If we allow our initial negative reactions to become a permanent mindset that sours our attitude which makes it harder for us to trust and obey God, that is when being negative has crossed the line. It has become a sin.
In Numbers chapters 13–14, we see where Israel allowed fear and negativity to rule their thinking and behaviors to such a degree that it caused them to refuse to obey YHWH. They allowed their negative emotions to become so prevalent that they started blaming God for their challenges and difficulties. They spread their fear and negativity to others and made it difficult for others to obey God by faith.. Allowing negative thoughts feelings and emotions to establish deep roots in us, which makes it difficult for us to obey God; or when we allow our negative feelings to cause us to dissuade others from obeying YHWH; that’s when negativity becomes a serious disaster in our lives.
You see, instead of dwelling solely on their fear, instead of blaming and criticizing the Almighty for their problems, they could have run to YHWH. They could’ve humbled themselves and admitted that they were afraid, and that they were the problem in the situation. They could’ve cried out to YHWH for help. I believe that the Almighty Father would have been incredibly merciful if Israel had admitted their fear and run to YHWH for help, instead of accusing Him and then refusing to obey Him out of their fear. That’s not just my opinion. It’s biblical fact. Do a contrast study of Numbers chapters 13-14, vs. how Gideon dealt with his fears in Judges 6:1-8:35. Every time Gideon had a doubt or fear in a situation and went to YHWH with his fear, he received help from the Heavenly Father. He was never criticized or condemned. I am convinced that part of the reason for that is because Gideon was honest. Gideon admitted his weaknesses and he didn’t blame God for his problems. You see the same scenario played out in various places in Scripture:
When a man admitted that he was struggling with unbelief, Messiah helped him, and provided the miracle he needed, (Mark 9:14-24).
When Thomas admitted that he couldn’t and wouldn’t believe after the death and resurrection of Messiah, Messiah provided him the help that he needed, (John 20:19-29)
As It Is Written:
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4 NASB95)
Take Control of Your Attitude:
“I may be feeling ________________ (i.e. fear, doubt, unbelief, anger, confusion etc), but I make a choice of my will to bring these feelings to YHWH Almighty God, and to trust Him with my life and situation, despite how I feel. I make the choice of my will to respond with Love and obedience to Scripture, even as I am waiting for my feelings to change.” “I choose to focus on how good God is, and I make the CHOICE to rejoice in HIM, because of how good He is, regardless of how I may feel at the moment.”
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 NASB
As It Is Written: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:4–8 NASB95)
The simple reality is this. You might be feeling negative thoughts emotions and reactions to genuine pain, trauma, grief, sorrow, or tragedy, but if you hold onto those thoughts and feelings to the point where it makes it difficult, or causes you to disobey YHWH Almighty God, then it is a sin. If you choose to hold onto and continue to nurse those negative things, instead of overcoming them, then you cannot be obeying 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, and Philippians 4:4-8. The key is that we are learning to overcome. We are learning to obey Scripture, despite how we may feel at any given moment. That is one of the major purposes of this life.