Guard Your Thought Life

The road to sin starts in your mind. Get off the road before you travel too far.
(c) 2007 Doug Britton (Permission granted to print for personal use) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Personal introduction
A few years after becoming a Christian, I thought it would be harmless to enjoy daydreaming about certain sins, since I was sure I never would engage in the actual sins. That was a mistake, for the temptations grew and gained strongholds in my mind. By God¶s grace, I didn't engage in those sins, but I had to fight to regain a pure thought life. (This Bible study is adapted from "Defeating Temptation: Biblical Secrets to Self -Control." This comprehensive book gives both men and women practical, biblical tools to break free from sin's grasp.)

It is dangerous to "entertain" sinful thoughts.
The road to sin begins in your thought life.
When you commit a sin, it never "just happens." Sinful acts begin as attitudes or temptations in your mind and emotions. For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly (Mark 7:21-22). Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:14-15). What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1). We should try to act properly, but it¶s even more important to deal with our thoughts and emotions, since they are the source of our sinful actions. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean (Matthew 23:26). Don't fantasize about sin, thinking that your thoughts are harmless. When you cherish sin in your heart, you put a wedge between yourself and God. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Psalm 66:18).

You can become ensnared by sinful thoughts.
You can become spiritually crippled if you continuously think about committing a sin, even if you never commit that particular sinful act. If you allow yourself to daydream about divorcing your spouse, seeing a prostitute or committing any other sin, this thought pattern can become a habit that is hard to break. The thoughts become compulsive and can continue for years, robbing you of the joy that comes from a clean conscience.

You may sin in various ways because of peer pressure. Looking at pornography or entertaining immoral fantasies pollutes your mind. Reject sinful thoughts. Don't allow yourself to fantasize about sin. For example: You may feel like getting drunk because you feel depressed or hopeless. That's part of the package of being alive. Having an impure thought come into your mind is not a sin by itself. Ask God to help you break free from entertaining sinful fantasies. If you do this. if you feel unloved. Ask God to search your heart. Do not fantasize about sexual sin and masturbate. don't despair. fueling your anger toward him or her. and ask God to cleanse and purify your memories. ask God¶s forgiveness for the original sins and for enjoying their memory. it¶s possible to go through the day unaware that we are entertaining tempting thoughts. the thoughts that often accompany it are. Some people think about early sinful sexual experiences or other sins with fondness or nostalgia.If this has happened to you. Masturbation is not forbidden in the Scriptures. pray about the underlying reason. Don't allow yourself to think about sinning or ways you could go about sinning. For example. Once you identify what motivates you to sin. Ask God to help you figure out what ¶s underneath your temptations. they become sin when we entertain them. You may shop (and spend money you shouldn't) when you feel insecure or depressed. Don't continually brood about how someone irritates you. . Confess your early actions as sins. Take a few minutes to ask God to reveal any areas in your thought life that need to change. Learn to identify and reject unwholesome thoughts. Impure thoughts are not sin. We aren't always aware of what we are thinking about. Everybody has impure thoughts of one type or another. In fact. How ever. Repent of "pleasant" sinful memories. Analyze why you are tempted. pray to enjoy God¶s love instead of looking for a cheap substitute. and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Romans 13:14). A good guideline is not to allow yourself to consider or dwell on anything God would not want you to do. Read on and learn how God can help you escape. You may flirt or engage in sexual conquests because you are insecure or feel unloved and want to feel desirable or important. Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. choosing to entertain the thought is a sin.

whatever is admirable²if anything is excellent or praiseworthy²think about such things (Philippians 4:8). My dear children. whatever is right.But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28). ask God to replace them with pure dreams. Finally. Do you think you can't control your thoughts? If so. you are not alone. and God's Word encourages us not to give up! When we ask the Lord to forgive us. If that happens to you. we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8:5). But that¶s not true. fix your thoughts on Jesus. who share in the heavenly calling. Sometimes people have orgasms in their sleep. brothers. We all stumble in many ways. Therefore. we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned. The Bible tells us to aim for perfection (2 Corinthians 13:11). It's inevitable that you and I will sin from time -to-time. . whatever is pure. whatever is noble. Make it a habit to think about things that are pure and true. whatever is true. holy brothers. the Righteous One (1 John 1:8-2:1). But if anybody does sin. whatever is lovely. If we claim to be without sin. Also ask him to help you resist and reject these thoughts. we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense²Jesus Christ. Choose wholesome thoughts. he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Don't give up if (when) you sin. I write this to you so that you will not sin. don't feel guilty or condemned. However. able to keep his whole body in check (James 3:2). write a prayer asking God¶s forgiveness. he is a perfect man. Many people think thoughts are like rain²there¶s not much we can do about them. Personal application Do you allow yourself to entertain impure thoughts? If so. if you have sexually immoral dreams. the apostle and high priest whom we confess (Hebrews 3:1). If anyone is never at fault in what he says. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires. Pray to choose wholesome thoughts. If we confess our sins. we all come short. he does!. You can discipline your mind and decide what to think about. However.

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