Your thoughts can be self-destructive.
Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.” (NLT)
Most of us know the caustic affect that harsh words can have on people. But what about thoughts? The Bible is very clear on the importance of thoughts in a Christian’s life, but because they’re so ethereal in nature, we often don’t realize that we’re knee-deep in ungodly thinking until our thoughts manifest themselves in another way. Regardless of when or how we become aware of recurring, sinful thinking, we need to remedy the situation quickly.
I would liken it to an atomizer or spray bottle. Imagine that a spray bottle, normally used to water plants, or tame an unruly hair-do, was accidentally filled with acid. The spray would be very harmful to the skin or eyes. The spray of course symbolizes hurtful words. The bottle that the spray is coming from is a reservoir of that concentrated acid; the stuff that these hurtful words are made of. If that were ever poured out into a plant’s soil, the plant wouldn’t be long for this world. Now imagine also that the bottle itself isn’t strong enough to withstand the corrosive properties of the acid. Before long, you have a nasty mess on your hands, and the spray bottle is worthless.
Some people might argue that thoughts are just thoughts, and that as long as we don’t act on them, what harm is done by simply thinking? The trouble is, thoughts are as real as actions in God’s eyes. 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT) says, “…The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”
Your thought-life is as open to sin as your physical life, and sin from thought carries the same penalty of eternal separation from God that necessitates the redemption of Jesus’ blood.
Some of the obvious thought problems, along with hateful thoughts, are lust, jealousy, deceit, and negativity, but some are more tricky to spot. How about guilt and condemnation? Low self-esteem and pride are closely related, but equally dangerous thought patterns. If you’re living every day of your life in low self-esteem and guilt, then you’re living outside of God’s will for your life.
Some people actually fantasize about different types of sin, and get pleasure out of plotting, in detail, an act that they will never physically commit. You may be thinking, “Freaks!” But I think we’ve all thought, “It would be so easy, and no body would ever know…” The fact is that the plotting, or fantasizing is just as bad. Proverbs 15:26-26 says, “The LORD despises the thoughts of the wicked, but he delights in pure words.” Just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean that we can’t be counted among “the wicked”. That’s us!
The concept of “corroded from the inside, out” is crucial when we look at our thought-life. Where do spiritually corrosive thoughts come from? They come from the heart of a person. The book of Mark (7:21 NLT) says, “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you.” Notice that evil thoughts lead a list of all sorts of disgusting sins that everyone would agree to be wretched.
So, if we know that evil thoughts come from the heart, what makes a heart generate evil thoughts? Matthew 6:21 (NLT) says, “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” The first step to fixing a mind that’s filled with negative, ungodly thoughts is to make sure that you have a relationship with Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus, you need to take a moment and thank him for dying on the cross for your sins. It’s that sacrifice, and the fact that death on the cross was not the end of him, that makes it possible for him to rule over your heart as much as he conquered Hell. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, and then ask him to begin to work from the inside, out, to change your heart so that your mind will be transformed.
The key to fixing our thought life is to lift up our hearts to God. Psalms 19, chapter 7 puts it best, “12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep me from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. 14 May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (NLT). We can’t change our minds by ourselves. We need God’s power to get to all the dirty little corners of our hearts.
Having said that, if we want God to change our hearts and minds, we have to make a conscious effort to focus on Godly things. We have to seek him daily, and allow him to do his work. Get into the Word. Submerge yourself in it’s truth to purge the poisonous lies that have entrenched themselves in your heart.
It’s like trying to get over a cold. You have to eat well and rest if you want your body to heal itself. And hey, as a side note, I’ve heard that advice before from my doctor. If I want to stay healthy, I need to watch what I eat, get plenty of rest, and exercise. Our spiritual health is the same way. We have to spend time with God every day, truly giving the Holy Spirit time to minister to us. We have to read the Bible on a regular basis, and we have to fix our mind on things of his kingdom.
We also have to avoid dumping garbage into our heads that we know will only turn our minds to the same filth. Philippians 4:8 (NLT) is a scripture that many of us have heard before, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This is why Christian music is so valuable to a Christian’s daily life. Am I saying that all secular music is of the Devil? No. But, when you’re battling negative, or sinful thoughts, you need all the help you can get, and if you’re listening to edifying music that’s focusing your thoughts on God, then you’re taking one more precaution to protecting yourself from a relapse. Read this passage from Galations 5 (NLT):
“16 So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. 18 But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law. 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.”
Romans 12:2 (NLT) says, “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” A healthy mind, a clean thought-life, is part of God’s plan for our lives, and will help you to draw closer to God than you’ve ever been before. Jeremiah 4:14 (NLT) says, “O Jerusalem, cleanse your hearts that you may be saved. How long will you harbor your evil thoughts?” God doesn’t want to see us suffer and he hates being separated from us by sin.
Psalm 94 puts it most bluntly, “11 The LORD knows people’s thoughts, that they are worthless!” (NLT). Ungodly, negative thoughts are dead weight that need to be turned over to the Lord. They’re also symptomatic of a part of our hearts that we haven’t completely turned over to God. When we find that the water of our minds is becoming murky with evil thoughts, we need to ask the master Purifier to come in and cleanse our hearts and minds so that our thoughts are transformed to be his own thoughts, pure and filled with wisdom. When that happens, we’ll find that God is producing those fruits of the Spirit, listed in Galations 5, in us.