"The Christian is the man or woman who no longer seeks his salvation, his deliverance, his justification in himself, but in Jesus Christ alone. He knows that God's Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him guilty, even when he does not feel his guilt, and God's Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him not guilty and righteous, even when he does not feel that he is righteous at all.
"The death and the life of the Christian is not determined by his own resources; rather he finds both only in the Word that comes to him from the outside, in God's Word to him. The Reformers expressed it this way: Our righteousness is an 'alien righteousness,' a righteousness that comes from outside of us. They were saying that the Christian is dependent on the Word of God spoken to him. He is pointed outward, to the Word that comes to him. The Christian lives wholly by the truth of God's Word in Jesus Christ. If somebody asks him, 'Where is your salvation, your righteousness?' he can never point to himself. He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ, which assures him salvation and righteousness. He is alert as possible to this Word. Because he daily hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he daily desires the redeeming Word. And it can come only from the outside. In himself, he is destitute and dead. Help must come from the outside, and it has come, and comes daily and anew in the Word of Jesus Christ, bringing redemption, righteousness, innocence, and blessedness."
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), a German Lutheran pastor and theologian executed by the Nazis just before the end of World War II, in his amazing little book Life Together
Our feelings are not accurate guides to reality! Sometimes we feel awesome about ourselves, but the truth is that we're walking in pride, far from the Lord. Other times we may come right up to the brink of despair because all we feel is guilt, shame, or hopelessness ... and all the while, Jesus Christ is present with us and speaking to us in the Word of his gospel, saying: "Don't be afraid! I am with you! I died to save you! You are forgiven, and you will live!" Freedom means living not as slaves to our feelings, but by faith in the solid truth of the Word. And that's why it's so critical that we read Scripture everyday. Hungry people who long for real righteousness find it by chewing on the Word each day. We don't live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.