“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:8
‘The Works of Jonathan Edwards” quotes a pithy statement from Edwards himself in regards to man’s affections - “Such is man's nature, that he is very inactive and lazy unless he is influenced by some affection, either love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, or some other. These affections we see to be the springs that set men agoing, in all the affairs of life, and engage them in all their pursuits.”
This is so true in regards to the drive and impetus that our affections give. In other words our affections provide direction and purpose for living. They dictate our terms for what we specifically pursue in life and what is most important.
This is true for every person. The believer and the unbeliever both have affections of the heart that guide them.
But the difference is, the believer has been given a new heart. He/she has been given by God, a new seat of affection (Ezek 36:26; 2 Cor 5:17) that is free from sin and any affection that will be apposed or out of sync with the Spirit of God (1Jn 3:24). Of course this is not how it feels at times - right? The unredeemed flesh, which still has its bent away from God, so quickly panders to the hankerings of the flesh’s affections. This is a struggle we will have until we receive new bodies at the coming of Jesus Christ.
But the affections of our new heart need to be trained and nurtured. That training only comes from being fed on the truth of God’s Word. You stave your new, God given affections and you will default to the unredeemed flesh’s affections.
Let me end with another of Jonathan Edward’s quotes: “He who has no religious affection is in a state of spiritual death and is wholly destitute of powerful quickening influences of the Spirit of God.” [Grace Quotes]