Renewing Your Affections

“Martin Lindstrom, an author and speaker, thinks that cellphones have become akin to a best friend for many owners. Lindstrom’s experiment using an MRI helped him discover why. When the subjects saw or heard their phone ringing, their brains fired off neurons in the area associated with feelings of love and compassion. Lindstrom said, ‘It was as if they were in the presence of a girlfriend, boyfriend, or family member.'”[1]
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This raises the question, What/Who do we delight in?

How does the Christ-life relate to my affections? If I appropriate my identity in Christ by faith, I need to also cooperate with God’s Spirit as He “restores my soul”. This process of renewal in the mind, will, and emotions depends on personal surrender to God and trust in the indwelling presence of Christ.

An aspect of this renewal that has been impressed upon me lately is that of renewing the affections . If Christ is my life, I will delight in what He delights in. My affections will be directed to what is valuable.

How prone the flesh is to delight in the sensual and carnal desires of this fallen world. Why else would James need to rebuke the early church? “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have… You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (4:1-3). Why else would John need to caution us in his first epistle? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15,16).

The true believer has the blessing of a regenerated human spirit–“the new man” (Col. 3:10). We have been made partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Yet the soul is still vulnerable to the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil: “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

God intends us to allow the “new man” to have dominion over the soul and body by the power of the Holy Spirit. The natural order of this chain of command was forfeited at the Fall (Gen 3). Instead of being under the control of the body, we must make it our servant (1 Cor. 9:27). Instead of being under the dominion of the self-life, we need to reckon ourselves dead to sin’s authority and alive to God through the resurrection power of Christ (Rom. 6:5-11).

When the Lord Jesus is functioning as my Lord and Life, He will redirect my affections.

What should you delight in?

  • “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
  • Delight in God’s perfect will– “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).
  • Delight in the Word of God– “I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure” (Psalm 119:162).
  • Delight in God’s moral principles– “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man” (Romans 7:22).
  • Delight in God’s comfort–“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul” (Psalms 94:19).
  • Delight in the Second Coming– “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
  • Delight in the blessing of eternal fellowship with God–“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Evan Hopkins wrote,

“We shall seek what we love and delight in. It is where our treasure is that our heart will be also. ‘Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is nothing upon earth I desire beside Thee.’ [Psalm 73:25]. What are the things we are seeking? Those things that are filling our thoughts and attracting our affections. It is upon these we set our wills and concentrate our energies. It is not difficult to seek what we love.”[2]

At the conclusion of our Grace Fellowship workshops, it’s so hard to bid farewell to the men and women who have experienced warm fellowship and spiritual renewal together. Peter reminded belivers to show their mutual love in culturally appropriate ways: “Greet one another with a kiss of love… ” (1 Peter 5:14).

Will we ask God to search our heart and redirect our affections to where they belong?

Our Father, we confess that or affections tend to get misdirected as we live by sight instead of by faith. Illumine us so that we will set our hearts on things above, where Christ, who is our life, is seated with You. Continually restore our soul by redirecting our affections to what is eternally worthy. Amen.


[1] Marvin Williams, Our Daily Bread on 3/20/2014

[2] Broken Bread, 7/30. emphasis added

Copyright by John Woodward 1999, 2014, 2nd edition. Biblical quotations are from The New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson). Permission is granted to reprint this article when credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com.

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Copyright, John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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