We have heard in recent weeks from Pastor Geoff about our motivations as believers, but something that goes hand in hand with that is need for self-discipline, especially when it comes to our thoughts. The difference between a sincere, devoted, godly, obedient Christian and a defeated, weak, struggling Christian is what takes place in the mind. They may be attending the same church, active in the same ministries, and externally doing the same things, but one is defeated and the other lives a spiritually fruitful life. The difference between them however takes place in the mind. How are we to deal with the problem of evil thoughts though? How can we, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”? I would suggest it is the same process we take in dealing with any other sin. 1) Confess and forsake the sin. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). If your thought life harbors sins of immorality, sins of anger toward someone, sins of covetousness, or whatever it may be, confess them to God. Repent and ask forgiveness. “If we confess, He is faithful and just to forgive and keep on cleansing (1 John 1:9)”. 2) Refuse to entertain those thoughts. Purpose to abandon your wrong thought patterns immediately and begin to build new, righteous habits. “Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8). In other words, reprogram your mind with truth and righteousness. 3) Feed on the Word of God. “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). The Word insulates the mind and strengthens the heart. It occupies the soul and secures it against evil thoughts. 4) Avoid evil attractions. Don’t expose yourself to activities, images, or conversations that provoke evil thoughts. Like Job, make a covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1) and refuse to feed any tendencies that draw your imagination into wickedness. 5) Cultivate the love of God. David said in Psalm 119:97, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” And then four verses later he said, “I have restrained my feet from every evil way.” If we set our minds on things above, the things of earth will cease to hold the same fascination for us (Colossians 3:2). “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21) - and where your affections are set, your thoughts will be there as well.
As David penned in Psalm 19, may this be our goal also… “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer”.
Contributed by Alex Townsend