How to Control Sinful Thoughts
Author: Jancy James 17 Aug 2021
The clock struck six! One could hear the distant church bells chiming gaily…
Jayden grabs his cloak and walks hastily towards the Cathedral, taking long agile strides, and reaching just in the nick of time for the Sunday service.
It invokes nostalgic memories time and again. Jayden never missed Sunday masses ever since he was a child.
Traditions and values etched deeply into his psyche, his mind was programmed never to miss the Sunday Service. Never could he muster enough courage to find excuses to skip the religious ceremony either.
The choir sings on merrily; Jayden’s mind drifts on to pastures untrodden…
Try as he might, his eyelids struggled to keep away from the tempting pull of gravity.
Stepping into a vivid dream full of vibrant colours, and thoughts fluttering towards not-so-pure territories, Jayden ultimately falls for the devil’s trap!
Jayden is our quintessential devout Christian with his head firmly on his shoulders.
One among the multitude of believers who has been brought up in similar rigid notions, but never trained to curtail the wild and rebellious thoughts bubbling within their minds, unashamedly so, even in the confines of a sacred place.
Are we devout enough?
To get to the bottom of it all, we are all Jaydens of varying shades and formats in our Christian lives. We create a brilliant impermeable mask of religiosity and pietism around our persona, and project ourselves as celestial beings that merit a seat at the right of the throne of the Divine Majesty.
Thoughts Become Actions
Remember that our mind is an authoritative tool capable of taking control of our bodies. Therefore, we need to set boundaries to supervise it and fix our thoughts within its jurisdiction. We must control, shepherd and purify our minds to curtail impure thoughts that can become sinful actions in no time.
As Christians, we are obliged to keep our minds as pure as that of Christ Jesus.
However, this is easier said than done. Our mind takes a rebellious turn, and is often turbulent and distracted when we try to bring our compulsive thoughts into captivity. We dwell in doubt and sin, and this leads to a disruption in our spiritual growth. Compulsive thoughts can enslave our minds and create a barrier to a clear conscience.
Haven’t we noticed that when we intend to pray, our mind tends to stray indefinitely?
When we think pure, our mind floats onto pastures impure; when we want to ponder on good thoughts, we wander onto unholy deeds…
The road to sin invariably starts from the mind.
How do you control thoughts?
Romans 7:19-20:“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
In Romans 7, St Paul talks about the ‘Inner Conflict’ that creates turmoil in our minds. We as human beings have been directed by the scriptures to identify what is right and wrong; but never were we taught how to set the wrong thoughts in our minds to the right ones that nurture our souls.
It is extremely dangerous to dwell on sinful thoughts. One might be accustomed to think that engaging in impure thoughts may not be all that disgraceful. However, this is not true at all.
Imagination is the foundation stone to every damnable dream and action. Wrong thoughts can infest your imagination and gain stronghold in your mind, leading to temptation, action, and ultimately a habit formation.
In Mark 7:21-22 we read: “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.”
Every action was first a perceived thought that we imagined in our minds, and nurtured and built into architectural wonders that culminate in seditious actions.
This is why it is of great importance to find ways to stop unwanted imagination and discipline our mind before it destroys us.
Ways to Control our Thoughts
Here are some techniques that may help you keep your heart and mind pure, and win the battle of the mind.
Change your Focus Intentionally
Matthew 6:21- For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
First and foremost, one must understand that a wandering mind is the ploughing field of the Devil and his associates!
Once the evil one gains access to this fertile land, they do a mighty good job in de-seeding the good thoughts, watering the impure weeds, and playing with our logic and spirituality to disassociate ourselves from the pure and fertile soil that nurtures our mind.
Changing focus is a conscious and continuous process, and requires a lot of diligence and effort to pursue.
Have you noticed that when we consciously decide not to think of something or someone, we are furnished with more vivid and vibrant thoughts that send us to pure anguish and misery?
The devil puts the most tortuous thoughts and suggestions into our minds at the exact time when we crave for reverence and loyalty to our Heavenly Father.
It is nevertheless comforting to note that having a sinful thought is in itself not a sin. We are all mere mortals and temptation is inevitable at some point, especially if we are very close to God. Our imagination runs wild! However, what really matters is how we deal with the thoughts and temptations, and if we choose to dwell on them willingly.
Once we consciously decide to monitor our thoughts, we start noticing the negative and impure ideas that dwell within our imaginative reveries. We must not only strive to resist what persists, but completely remove ourselves from the surroundings that cause these thoughts.
James 1:15 is a warning bell to all of us that sin, when it is fully grown brings forth death”
See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil
1Corinthians 6:12- “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial.
Every form of evil must be expelled completely from our minds and distilled into something more pure and divine.
Not everything that we see, do, or speak is unlawful. However, one must think if it is beneficial for our mind, body and soul, and if it has the dangerous potential to shove us to temptation and sin.
Here, perhaps the law of our country may be in conflict with the Law of our God.
Drinking may be lawful and desirable by all means. But, many a man has been destroyed and led to lascivious and irresponsible deeds with this very much legitimized activity. Many a family was left in desperation due to alcoholism and other statutory practices.
Watching movies, music, and even possessing and viewing unholy videos in private may not be forbidden acts in your country. However, when your eyes feast on nefarious deeds; ears focus on tantalizing conversations; tongue speaks about loathsome deeds; it is only a matter of time that your mind and body start pursuing the devil’s footsteps. A lingering salacious thought, or a prurient conversation entertained for a little too much time for your comfort will eventually lead you to develop a sinful habit.
At this juncture, it is very crucial to note that “our eye” is the golden key that can open any door. Controlling our eyes is therefore tantamount to putting to rest a lot of temptations and sin. What we see affects our mind, body and spirit, and leads us to immorality.
The most righteous man ever born, Job tells us – “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin?”
One must surrender one’s eyes to the Lord to achieve Divine perception. The Almighty can help train our vision to perceive a person or a thing from a divine angle.
Psalm 101:3 tells us not to set before our eyes anything that is worthless.
Prayer and Word of God
In Philippians 4:6, St Paul again reminds us not to worry about anything, but in everything pray with thanksgiving, and let the requests be made known to God. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Prayer is a wonderful and forthright way to get rid of perverse thoughts. It is in fact a direct imploration to God and hence never goes wasted.
Unwavering prayer has the power to move mountains, and send the whole herd of demons down the sea to perish in the water.
Whenever an ungodly thought torments your mind, call out to the Holy Spirit and meditate on the word of God to drown it in the sea, before it becomes a raging storm that can wreak havoc in your body.
The Holy Spirit can provide wisdom to discern the root cause of your licentious thoughts. Our God promises us that we will never face a temptation that is impossible to overcome ( 1 Corinthians 10:13.)
Anyone who approaches the throne of grace with boldness, will receive mercy and find grace and help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16.)
Investing time in prayer for someone who falls within your tempting angle, and trusting God with your mind and vision are ways that you can use to get out of sins of the mind and flesh. God will deliver you out of the temptation as He has so promised to all his children (1 Corinthians 10:12–13)
Hosea 4:6 reveals to us that many of God’s people are destroyed due to lack of knowledge of the scripture. Lack of knowledge as to what is right and what is wrong from God’s perspective can lead us to sinful deeds.
Our Lord Himself reveals in Isaiah 55:8 –“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”
Many of us read The Bible without entirely understanding the context and content. We do not ponder on the ways of the Lord. Rather, we make our own assumptions and follow the word according to our whims and fancies.
We must understand the Power of God as Jesus implies to the Pharisees in Mark 12:24.
We must be humble enough to understand our limitations, and focus on God’s perception of what is evil, sin or slander, and bring Him on board to keep our thoughts top-notch, and our minds free from sin.
Analyze your thoughts and influences
Try as you might to remove temptations from your mind, if the actual object of temptation still remains within your observable horizon, it defeats the purpose of striving to achieve the goal.
Therefore, all objects and subjects that can stimulate your mind and stir up your wildest imaginations should be entirely removed from your realm of vision. This is very important to attain purity of thought and sincerity of action.
Proverbs 4:15 shows us the way here –“Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on”
Fear of the Lord
Proverbs 1:7-The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
In all things that you do or see, train your mind to see God and understand his perception. Fear of the Lord is a shield that protects us from sin and folly. No devout Christian can feast on vile and wretched exploits if he is subconsciously aware that his actions are assessed and watched over by our Father in heaven. He will have to temporarily remove Divine presence from his mind to go against his conscience and act or think in sin.
Believers must therefore wield the sword of the spirit to fight all transgressions and iniquities from their minds. Memorizing the word of God, and keeping them ready to use against the evil one are mighty weapons that help us in the battle of the mind and body.
Victory comes from our Lord
Last but not the least, let us all be comforted by the belief that our victory comes from above. Our father in heaven has already ensured that his beloved son has freed us from all misdemeanors, past, present and future by sending His son to die on the cross.
Just as Daniel took a firm resolution that he will not defile himself, all we need to do is to take an oath to walk in the Victory that Christ made us possible through his sufferings on the cross.
Seek the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and you will find him leading your army in every battle you face on earth.
Winning or losing the battles on earth becomes irrelevant once you find comfort and solace in the Lord’s presence.
Romans 6:22- But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life.
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