Many of us have lived in the belief that having an ungodly thought flash across our minds is sin. We have hung our heads in shame and felt defeated in our Christian walk.
It freed me, when I learned that the thought is not the sin! The sin lies in what we do with it. If we let it in, it leads to shame. Doubt, anxiety, anger, and nervousness show up and disrupt our physical and spiritual rest. We have the power to refuse to let the thought in when it comes knocking on the door of our minds.
I believe that thoughts are triggered by these four sources:
- Our own minds (past experiences, preconceived ideas, wrong teaching, things we take in through the senses)
- Words or actions of others
- The evil one, Satan
The Bible tells us, “We have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16b NLT) But we have to choose to let that mind determine our thoughts and behavior instead of our un-renewed mind, which may have controlled us for many years.
I am indebted to Anabel Gillham for the following four steps to victory in our thought life.
- Recognize – Examine the thought to see where it came from. Have you been exposing yourself to visual or mental stimuli that would have caused your mind to go in the wrong direction? I think of this like shining a light on the thought.
- Refuse – If an intruder tried to gain entrance to your physical house, your attitude and actions would be “Stop!” In the same manner an undesirable thought can be stopped on the threshold of your mind. Do not play around with the thought and let it implant itself and gain expression through inappropriate actions. If the thought is not consistent with Scripture we are not to accept it. Think of holding up a stop sign.
- Remember – “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:11 NKJV). Consider the provision of victory over sin which Jesus’ death on the cross provided through his blood sacrifice. Think of the cross.
- Rest – Rest in the victory and remember we are no longer slaves to sin. For some of us it is s lifelong discipline and continuing challenge to cast off chains of worry and live out the Scripture, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
I hope you who are reading this will find it as helpful as I have found it in my own experience.
It is explained further in my book Unshackled.