Can I Overcome Unwanted Emotions, Feelings, or Desires?

Paul Dean
Paul Dean
2011 18 Feb

Wouldn't it be great to have the ability to overcome everything life throws at us; things like depression, anxiety, anger, lust, or discontentment? What if we had the capacity to deal with unwanted emotions and feelings; or the ability to handle circumstances that catch us off guard or even blow us away? After all, our culture tells us we can't control our emotions; they're simply part of who we are. And things like depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder, sexual addiction, etc., are just that, diseases or disorders that can't be cured. I'd love to be able to conquer things that plague me, wouldn't you?

I had a man who was committing adultery tell me he knew it was wrong but something inside of him wouldn't let him stop. Maybe you've felt that way toward something else like food, television, or shopping. John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono were emotionally hurt when the U.S. Government tried to deport them for their political leanings. John was so angry he went to a party and spent the night with another woman. Yoko said she didn't like it, but she knew he was upset and understood his actions. I'm sure she wishes things weren't that way though. It would have been nice if he could have overcome his anger. Perhaps that's why she ultimately separated from him for a while; deep down she wished that we could be delivered from such cruel impulses.

Human beings have needs don't they? Our culture tells us that men need respect and women need to feel loved. Men need physical interaction and women need emotional connection. A need is natural and must be met says our world. If our needs aren't met, we're not to blame for seeking to get them fulfilled, even if in the wrong way or place. That's who we are the experts tell us; and that's how we feel when we listen to them. Yet, we'd all like to be delivered from those things we know are not right or good for us wouldn't we?

Let me give you some good news; some hope. Actually we can prevail over those things. We're not victims who have no control over our impulses, desires, feelings, or emotions. We're not helpless. We're not the product of an evolutionary process whereby we're hard-wired to be depressed, addicted, or unable to function in society. We don't have to be driven by animal passions or defeated by something inside us that won't let us stop destructive behavior. We aren't bound by a personality type or circumstances of any kind. If your "Type A" persona gets you in trouble or is giving you heart disease, you can change; you can rise above. The Bible says that peace can be multiplied in our lives: we can overcome because Christ's "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" (2 Pet. 1:3). What an amazing thing to contemplate!

Yes, we're born in sin and are enslaved to sinful desires, feelings, attitudes, emotions, and personalities. But, Christ has set us free from all that. Think about it; in Christ, we have the very power of God working in us.

Peter says two important things from the start. First, it's God's power that's given us everything we need for life. Whatever curve balls life throws at us, we have everything - yes everything we need. We can deal with it, not in our own strength, but by God's power. We can be at peace despite cancer, financial ruin, or whatever tragedy comes our way. 

Second, it's God's power that gives us everything we need for godliness. What does God say about adultery, lust, anger, or discontentment? These things are sinful. What does He say about depression, improper eating habits, or addictions of any kind whether alcohol, sex, or shopping? Those things are also sinful; we're not to be brought under their power (1 Cor. 6:12). But the good news is that we have God's power to defeat their power. We don't have to wallow in sin. We can overcome unbiblical thoughts, attitudes, desires, feelings, emotions, personalities, behaviors, or activities. We have everything we need to be godly.

Now, only in Christ do we have this power. Peter says we have all we need for life and all we need for godliness "through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue." We have to know God to have His power. And, we can only know Him if He has called us Peter says. He's talking about God working His grace and saving power in the heart of an individual. God is the one who effectually calls us out of enslavement to sin, Satan, and death into a saving relationship with Him. His call is no mere invitation that can be ignored. He calls us through His glory and virtue. God's glory refers to the sum total or reality of who He is. His virtue refers to His righteous character and almighty strength. It is the sinless, righteous, true and living God who calls us by making us alive in Him and emancipating us from Satan's control. He gives us the ability to see our need of Him and the desire to go to Him for life and forgiveness.

There is nothing inside us that can keep us from being at peace. There is nothing inside us that can keep us from doing what we know is right. There is no so-called need that can drive us to selfish, hurtful acts. We're tempted in those areas but we have all we need to triumph over those temptations. Wouldn't it be great to have the ability to overcome everything life throws at us? It would be - and we do.

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

Publication date: February 18, 2011