Do you want to feel good throughout the day? I mean mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Do you want to be happy, not hagridden, as you go along? I find from experience that the best way to experience that is to make it your business to try to do things that please God.
Following the impulse of the flesh feels good for a second but it leaves the vague residue of a yucky spirit that ruins you for hours. Following the impulse of the Holy Spirit feels like dying for a second but it leaves the residue of a feeling of well-being. This is the choice: a trip to the kingdom of Darkness whose calling card is despair, or partaking of the kingdom of Light with its calling card of joy.
Is it illicit to approach the subject this way? Is it unseemly and unspiritual to seek the goal of feeling good? Isn’t that crass moral utilitarianism à la John Stuart Mill? Actually not. God Himself uses many approaches and incentives to induce us to godly living:
“What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:12-14).
The offer? Enjoyment of life. The means to that end? An itemized list of suggestions regarding the use of your tongue and actions.
When we speak of feeling good or having a spiritual high, we are not talking about an exemption from suffering or persecution or trouble. We are talking about equanimity and contentment in the midst of these elements of the human condition.
Theologian Michael Brown’s Go and Sin No More takes Jesus’ command to “go and sin no more” seriously enough to discuss 20 reasons not to sin, including, “Sin does not satisfy,” “Sin leads to more sin,” “Sin leads to worse sins,” “Sin enslaves,” “Sin degrades and humiliates,” “The wages of sin is death,” “Sin steals joy,” “Sin steals confidence before God.”
On this last disincentive to sin, Brown writes that “… sin steals all the purity and innocence, making us uneasy with people and uncomfortable with God.” But “the good news,” Brown hastens to announce, “is that we can live in such a way that makes us confident before the Lord: ‘And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming …’ (1 John 2:28).”
Do you like the feeling of confidence before God? Wouldn’t that be a good feeling, for a change? God tells us the way to attain it: “continue in Him” by doing the things that please Him (1 Thessalonians 2:4), and in this way keep a clear conscience (1 Timothy 1:5).
I have gone off to work after treating my husband shabbily, and I have gone off to work after treating him with love. There is no comparison. A bad conscience is a daylong albatross around your neck. A good conscience makes you float on air.