Our thoughts are the most important thing. I mean thinking…it’s what you’re doing right now. Awake, we do it constantly. Even when we are asleep our thoughts from the day affect our dreams and how we sleep. Luke 6:45 says:
“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” -Luke 6:45 (NASB)
That which we think will affect all areas of our lives including what we speak. We find it very hard to control what we say, in fact, the bible says that it is impossible for us to bridle the tongue fully.
“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” -James 3:8 (NASB)
“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” -James 3:2 (NASB)
There is only one man who did not stumble in what he said and only one man who did not stumble in what he thought. That was Jesus. The perfect Son of Man.
If you struggle to keep your thoughts true, honorable, pure, lovely, and excellent, you are not alone. But that doesn’t let you off the hook. God wants your whole-hearted attention. He wants not only all of your heart and soul, he wants all of your mind and strength. Because you cannot give him all of your soul, without giving him all of your mind, strength, and heart.
“..You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” -Mark 12:30 (NASB)
God has really been laying this on my heart as something all of us struggle with to some extent, particularly teens. Often, thinking no one will understand, we hide our struggles inside and try to fight them alone. You will not win alone. You need God, and you need a brother.
What makes struggling against the sin of impure thinking so hard? Here are a couple of reasons:
- Accountability: We tell ourselves that no one sees us. But God does.
- Just like with what we eat physically, what we feed our minds on determines the health of our thought lives. And sometimes that is hard to control.
- Lines are often hard to determine
- No one is really comfortable taking the initiative talking about thoughts. After all, you don’t have to tell anyone those ugly things that you are thinking. In fact, you would rather do a lot of things than to reveal how ugly your mind and heart really is inside.
- Satan’s favorite way to poison and ruin our lives is through our minds and thoughts.
Sometimes the hardest thought struggles are those inappropriate thoughts or pictures that keep coming back and you just can’t get rid of them. The first step with these struggles is to plug the input to prevent the output. In other words, cut off the source of these thoughts as much as you can. Stop looking at things you shouldn’t look at. Stop listening to conversations you shouldn’t listen to. Spend more time with people who are godly and less time with those who are prone to gossip. Stop the unhealthy input into your thought life.
Sometimes it is not your choice. Even if you went away to a cave somewhere and lived forever isolated from things and people, your thoughts would still wander and dwell places unhealthy. In your life, sometimes you are exposed to things you wish you had not been exposed to, and although it was not your choice, it is affecting the purity and innocence of your thoughts. Things will flash through your brain that you do not wish to be there and you struggle to find victory. Generally, the best strategy is to distract your mind with something else and draw it away from sinful things. But what do you replace these ugly things with? Here are some ideas:
- First things first, cry out to God and ask for deliverance. He is our refuge.
- Try memorizing scripture. Not just verses, but try whole chapters. It can provide continued relief from impure thoughts to say scripture to yourself. The added challenge of more lengthy scripture memorization engages more of your mind since it requires more memory work.
- Choose someone in your life who is not saved. Every time the impure thought flashes in your mind pray for that person’s salvation. While praying for your struggle with that sin at that moment can help, it will often just bring your mind back to it, resulting in an endless cycle. Praying for someone else brings you to God while taking the focus off of you.
Most of all, be diligent. God has given us wonderful minds and the ability to reason and think. You only have so many thoughts to think in your life. How many of them will be honorable? How many will be commendable? How many will be pure and lovely? Think on these things. God is great and will bring deliverance.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.” -Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” -2 Corinthian 10:4-6 (NASB)
I really hope this post was helpful! As I said God has been laying it on my heart for a while. I plan to continue the series going more in-depth with what scripture says and going step by step through Philippians 4:8. I won’t promise to finish it any time soon, but I will try to keep studying, thinking, and praying about these things. God bless you!
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer for you all making my prayer with joy. (From Philippians 1:3-4 ESV)
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8 (NASB)