Reasons why fruits of the Spirit are not good feelings to determine truth by

First, consider the text:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:19-23)

1. Some of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are godly virtues precisely because they are exercised under the intensity of bad feelings. I am thinking here especially of self-control or temperance. When a man practices self-control, his challenge is to not let his feelings rule him… but his knowledge of the truth.

2. In context Paul is contrasting the works of the flesh (5:19-21) and the fruits of the Spirit. If the fruits of the Spirit were simply good feelings, we would expect the works of the flesh to be bad feelings. Instead Paul lists dispositions of the heart, orientations, actions, and results of actions — much broader than simply bad feelings.

3. Love is not a mere feeling, and sometimes love feels painful. It is a disposition of the heart that results in action. My wife does not merely feel loving toward me. She is loving toward me. Her love is more than a feeling. Indeed, sometimes she loves me when it does not feel good at all. Love does hard things that feel awful.

4. Judging people or their truth-claims based alone on whether they make you feel good contradicts the fruits goodness and faithfulness. “What you’re saying doesn’t make me feel good, therefore I am not going to believe you.” Goodness and faithfulness instead use wisdom to make a sound judgment. It pauses and considers the history and evidence. That is the loving thing to do.

5. Paul’s criteria for judging between a true and false gospel was using the measuring rod of the original message of the gospel:

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)