Negative emotions, left unchecked, are detrimental to our well-being and walk of faith. Negative thoughts and emotions affect our health, hinder victorious living, and can rob us of our purpose in Christ.
The emotions of our soul are subject to negativity (doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, panic, etc.) because our soul and body are linked to an outside world. They have an external viewpoint subject to harassment by the enemy.
We are a three-part being, comprised of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). Our soul and body form our outer man. Our human spirit is made alive in Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The inner man of the spirit only lives in the Presence of God (Eph. 2:6). Life flows from God within, through our spirit to the soul and beyond.
We are alive to God and all the possibilities of His nature. Paul writes, “So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11 NLT)
Remember, the enemy is defeated and so is the power of sin in our lives. However, the enemy gains power over us when we give it to him through agreement with his lies—which typically come as thoughts and impressions to our minds.
Most of the spiritual warfare we encounter is with our thought life. The enemy—just like he did with Jesus in the Wilderness—tempts through subtle suggestions and half-truths. If we take his bait and agree with his lies, we empower him.
Remember, he is defeated by Jesus’ death and resurrection! Jesus resisted Satan by standing on God’s Word and by His relationship with the Father, reliant upon the Holy Spirit—giving us a blueprint for how to live our lives.
Look at what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Although we live in the world, we don’t fight our battles with human methods. Our weapons that we fight with aren’t human, but instead they are powered by God for the destruction of fortresses. They destroy arguments, and every defense that is raised up to oppose the knowledge of God. They capture every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 CEB)
The NKJV states this way, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down of strongholds…”
Strongholds or fortresses are primarily ungodly belief systems… they need to be dismantled and replaced with Godly truths and beliefs!
A fortress keeps others out and, in the case of our minds, can keep thoughts captive within. But negative, ungodly thoughts must be removed and replaced with God’s truth.
When we remove the ungodly thoughts, attitudes, and emotions (along with hurts, unforgiveness and wounds from the past), the Holy Spirit, united with our spirit, can rule over our flesh and soul. But we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and grow in grace, maturing into the image of Christ.
Our inner man—our spirit—uses the attributes of the presence of God to intertwine with our spirit; we are alive with God through Jesus living out of the realm of the Spirit. We must renew our soul to this reality and live from it.
Jesus has delivered us from the power of sin, but deliverance from sin is not deliverance from ungodly beliefs and human nature. We must cooperate with God’s Word and Spirit to actively remove ungodly thoughts, attitudes, and emotions.
We bring every thought, attitude, and emotion to the obedience of Christ. That means we allow them to be crucified. We allow these things to die and allow Jesus’ life within to rule. It’s not an extreme makeover, but new life through Christ!
God Created us with Emotions
Understand that the Lord loves us. He created us in His image and, through our new birth in Christ, we are completely accepted in Him. John declares, “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17 NKJV). Jesus is loved and accepted by the Father, and so are we. The Father’s emotions toward us are ALWAYS positive, even in correction!
The Lord gave us emotions so we could experience Him, the Kingdom, and life in its fullest.
Jesus had emotions; we see them evident in the gospel accounts. In John 11:35, we read that “Jesus wept.” The shortest verse in the Bible describes Jesus experiencing sorrow over the news of His friend Lazarus’ death.
Jesus also wept over the city of Jerusalem—His compassion for God’s wayward people (Luke 19:41). We also read in Luke 10:21 how Jesus had extreme joy when He heard the missions report of the 70 that He sent out to proclaim the gospel with healing and deliverance.
We also read of Jesus being angry with the money changers in the temple because they corrupted the house of prayer and worship into a place of greed (Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:15; John 2:14-15). But Jesus didn’t allow His emotions to rule Him. He certainly didn’t allow a moment of righteous anger with the money changers to control His feelings about the people of Israel.
Think about this: the Father’s emotions toward me and you are positive: love, compassion, grace, mercy, peace, joy, gentleness, goodness, and faithfulness.
The Effect of Negative Thoughts and Emotions
However, if we harbor hurt, unforgiveness, or ungodly beliefs, we may have negative thoughts and emotions that override the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The writer of Proverbs states:
A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones” (Prov. 14:30 AMPCE).
The English word rottenness in this verse translates from the Hebrew word rā·qāḇ, which means something rotten, an organic object which decays, an infection, or degeneration of a joint or bone which can cause pain or weakness.
Let me re-word Prov. 14:30 according to the definition of rā·qāḇ: “A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and anger are like an infection that causes decay of your joints or bones, which can cause pain or weakness.”
The Bible is clear—maintaining a peaceful mind and heart aids to your overall health! Science backs this up.
Studies show that over 85% of all disease is rooted in our thought life and emotions.
In her book, Who Switched Off My Brain?, Dr. Caroline Leaf, a researcher in cognitive neuroscience since 1985, states that 87% of the illnesses plaguing people today are a direct result of their negative thought life.
Her research indicates that “toxic emotions can cause migraines, hypertension, strokes, cancer, skin problems, diabetes, infections, and allergies.”  She concludes that what we think about tangibly affects us, both physically and emotionally. Stress and anxiety can cause depression, and they affect us physically—weight gain, high blood pressure, etc.
Her studies indicate that fear triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses, and it activates more than thirty different hormones and neurotransmitters. 
Millions die each year of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. It is likely—based on Dr. Leaf’s research—that a high percentage of those affected by disease is due to negative emotions. Perhaps, if someone had taught them how to eliminate negative emotions, some of them might be alive today.
I believe it is right to conclude that some of our diseases are indicators, or messengers, of negative emotions and spiritual root issues that need to be addressed.
However, instead of addressing these spiritual issues, we typically ignore or cover these indicators. We mask the sickness—often through medication—without addressing our soul needs. Consequently, often the sickness reappears, sometimes fatally.
For example, our sickness may be telling us, “You need to forgive and get rid of your anger.” But instead of forgiving, we often just take medication. Or our illness maybe telling us, “You need to stop worrying and trust God more.” But instead of trusting, we take antacids or other kinds of medicine.
Often, we need others to pray with us to get free from negative thoughts and emotions. Allow yourself to be accountable to others—to have them pray with you and speak into your life where you may have wrong thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs affecting your walk with Christ.
One of the early leaders of the Church, James, gives both instruction and a glimpse into Hebraic practice for healing in biblical times. He writes:
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save (or heal) the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jam. 5:14-16 NKJV)
Take note: healing of sickness and disease is related to the confession of sin and trespasses (i.e., unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, anger, etc.). While not all disease and sickness are related to our sin and faults, in some cases there is a link. I discuss this passage and the Hebraic perspective with healing more in my book, Receive Your Miracle Now: A Case for Healing Today.
Trespasses or sins refer to our waywardness, and even guilt in Hebrew understanding. We need others with whom we can share our griefs, guilt, pain, and waywardness to bring complete healing and to help guide us in the renewing of our minds.
Let’s examine issues concerning our words, stress (sickness), and anger…
Words Affect our Emotions
Words have the power to break us down or build us up. “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences” (Prov 18:21 NLT).
Whatever words with which we come into agreement carry a substance of an assignment that can be fulfilled. If we don’t come into agreement with negative words, their assignment will be void and without any power over us. Whatever you come into agreement with, you empower.
A pastor friend of mine, Dr. Rodney Hogue, states, “You will either be on God’s construction team or the devil’s demolition crew!” Amen, Rodney!
Words can be used to bring life or harm—to others or to us. Hurtful words uttered like… “You’re stupid,” “You will never amount to anything,” “You’re just like your father (or mother),” “You’re a failure,” or even negative self-talk like… “I am a failure” or “I am so stupid” are some common phrases that become self-fulfilling when there is agreement with them unless broken. All too often the church has accepted the “spin” of hell rather than the words of heaven.
By the way, complaining can release words that empower the enemy. I love what Rodney said about complaining, “Complaining is nothing more than the worship language of Hell.” Words are so much more powerful than most people realize.
If you think about it, words have the power to create and to destroy. God spoke everything into existence, and remember in Matt 21:19-20 when Jesus spoke to the fig tree and said, “May you never bear fruit again!” This tree withered and did not bear any more fruit. The power of words can move mountains when combined with faith.
Stress and Sickness
Worry causes stress and fear. Your body can process small amounts of stress; however, excessive stress—whether real or perceived—can create emotional, mental, and physical problems as I mentioned earlier. Remember, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body…” (Prov. 14:30 NLT). Conversely, a heart filled with worry and fear can open the door to health issues.
Prolonged stress can deplete your immune system, leading to sickness and disease. Stress can hinder your ability to emotionally process the demands of life, weakening not only your physical body but your cognitive functions, as well. Stress can also create unhealthy fear and phobias. Unresolved stress and fear will hinder you from living victoriously.
Who are those most susceptible to heart disease? Those with a Type A Personality: people who are aggressive, easily angered, competitive, controlling, and always rushing. 82% of people who have heart disease have a Type A Personality. Why? Stress.
Here’s another statistic: more strokes and heart attacks happen on Monday than any other day of the week.
I read a story years ago about a woman who liked her job but didn’t like the boss she was working for. There was a lot of conflict. Wanting a break from her stress, she took a 15-day vacation, and she enjoyed her two-week vacation. But on the 14th day, when she knew she was going back to her job, she suffered a massive stroke, leaving half of her body paralyzed. This was a perfect picture of her life—half of her body wanted to go to work, the other half didn’t want to! Our bodies were not made for prolonged stress.
Another Negative Emotion is Anger
Psalm 4:4 says, “Be angry, and do not sin” (NKJV).
Paul repeats this in Ephesians, “Be angry without sinning. Don’t let the sun set on your anger. Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27 CEB).
Anger, left unresolved, gives the devil opportunity to afflict you. There is a place for righteous anger, but it is to be tempered in the fruit of the Spirit. Anger’s purpose is to spur us to action; its purpose is not to carry unforgiveness and become bitter. Anger—or injustice—invites us to go higher in God.
Once that purpose for anger is fulfilled, you should get rid of anger by forgiveness. Here’s the truth: God never designed your body to keep anger for a long time.
In other words, anger has an expiration date. Once past its due, it becomes poison in your body. Are you angry with someone? Surrender your anger to God.
I read of a study that was done many years ago, conducted on 255 doctors of the same age who all took a “hostility” test. The study specifically surveyed how they responded to drivers who cut them off on the road, to people who criticize them, and to friends who were disloyal to them. Thirty years later, the researchers went back to these same doctors. What did they find out? Some of those doctors who scored high on the test were already dead! Their death rate was six times higher than those who scored low on the hostility test. Angry people die sooner!
Eliminating Negative Emotions
I’ll go more in depth next week, but here are a couple of pointers to help you in this process:
First, don’t try and escape your negative emotions by ignoring them or pretending they’re not there. God can heal these negative emotions you are feeling.
Perhaps you have money problems now that are causing you to worry. Maybe there are conflicts at work. Or a broken heart. Or you have marriage problems, or have been through a divorce. Perhaps you are dealing with problems with your kids. Or you’re sick right now.
You may be tempted to escape from your anxiety, stress, anger, fear, and depression. How? Some people become numb or isolate themselves from the world around them. Others escape through addictions, such as with drugs, alcohol, pornography, illicit sex, video games, TV and movies, food, shopping, relationships, workaholism, and even religious activity.
Addiction is emotional anesthesia, so we won’t feel our emptiness, our fears, our depression, our anger. We distract ourselves.
However, when we don’t resolve our negative emotions, they can manifest in our bodies as respiratory problems, ulcers, headaches, skin allergies, digestive problems, heart disease, and cancers.
Second, Bring Your Negative Emotions to God.
Go to God now. Share your inmost heart. Tell Him what you feel—whether it’s anxiety, stress, fear, anger, sadness, the Psalms illustrate this:
My God! My God, why have you left me all alone?… My God, I cry out during the day, but you don’t answer…” (Psalm 22:1-2 CEB)
And, in Psalm 55:1, 4-5 CEB:
God, listen to my prayer; don’t avoid my request! (…) My heart pounds in my chest because death’s terrors have reached me. Fear and trembling have come upon me; I’m shaking all over.”
God allowed the negative emotions of others to be penned in Scripture, inviting us to go before Him in prayer and release these negative emotions. God is telling you to go to Him no matter what you’re feeling; He is waiting for you to pour your heart out before Him, trusting Him for a positive outcome. And you’ll notice the healing of your body, too.
The writer of Hebrews invites us, too:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16 NKJV)
Next, Bring Others Before God.
Bring the hurt, the anger, the unforgiveness, and the bitterness to God. Forgive the offender. Release the issues. Forgiveness is the way out.
Unforgiveness is at the root of most of our negative emotions. Someone has wronged us—or we perceive someone has hurt us—and we hold onto the negative emotions associated with the incident.
Lastly, Replace with Positive Thoughts.
From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 CEB)
I will expound next week on Establishing Positive Emotions. I’m excited to share with you about how to walk in this freedom. Until then, have a great week!
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Overcoming Negative Thoughts and Emotions: Part 2”:
 James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
 Caroline Leaf, Who Switched Off My Brain? (Southlake, TX: Switch on Your Brain International LLC, 2007), 4.
 Ibid., 49.