How can I take control of my thoughts?
Question: "How can I take control of my thoughts?"
Many Christians struggle with this issue, especially in our highly
technological world, but taking control of our thoughts is essential.
Proverbs 4:23 states, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the
wellspring of life." The “heart” includes the mind and all that proceeds
from it. Someone said that every sin we commit, we commit twice, once
in our thoughts and again when we act upon those thoughts. It is easiest
to rid our lives of sin if we attack it at this fundamental thought
level rather than waiting for it to become rooted in our lives by our
actions and then try to pull it out.
There is also a difference between being tempted (a thought entering
into the mind) and sinning (dwelling upon an evil thought and wallowing
in it). It is important to understand that when a thought enters our
mind, we examine it based upon God's Word and determine if we should
continue down that path or reject the thought and replace it with
another thought. If we have already allowed a habit to form in our
thought lives, it becomes more difficult to change the path of our
thoughts, even as it is hard to get a car out of a deep rut and onto a
new track. Here are some biblical suggestions for taking control of our
thoughts and getting rid of wrong thoughts:
1. Be in God's Word so that when a sinful thought enters our mind (a
temptation), we will be able to recognize it for what it is and know
what course to take. Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4) responded to
each of Satan's temptations with Scripture that applied to the direction
He knew His mind should take instead of beginning down the path of the
sinful thought. When tempted to meet His physical need (turn stone into
bread), He recited the passage about the importance of relying upon God.
When tempted to serve Satan in order to obtain the glory of the world,
He brought up the passage that says we are to serve and worship God
alone and speak of the glory that belongs to Him and those who are His.
When tempted to test God (to see if God was really there and would keep
His promises), Jesus responded with passages that stress the importance
of believing God without having to see Him demonstrate His presence.
Quoting Scripture in a time of temptation is not a talisman, but rather
serves the purpose of getting our minds onto a biblical track, but we
need to know the Word of God AHEAD of time in order to accomplish this.
Thus, a daily habit of being in the Word in a meaningful way is
essential. If we are aware of a certain area of constant temptation
(worry, lust, anger, etc.), we need to study and memorize key passages
that deal with those issues. Looking for both what we are to avoid
(negative) and how we are to properly respond (positive) to tempting
thoughts and situations—before they are upon us—will go a long way to
giving us victory over them.
2. Live in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, chiefly through seeking His
strength through prayer (Matthew 26:41). If we rely upon our own
strength, we will fail (Proverbs 28:26; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 26:33).
3. We are not to feed our minds with that which will promote sinful
thoughts. This is the idea of Proverbs 4:23. We are to guard our
hearts—what we allow into them and what we allow them to dwell on. Job
31:1 states, "I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I
look upon a young woman" (NKJV). Romans 13:14 states, "But put on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its
lusts." Thus, we are to avoid periodicals, videos, websites,
conversations and situations that will set us up for a fall. We should
also avoid spending time with those who would encourage us down these
4. We are to pursue hard after God, substituting godly pursuits and
mindsets for sinful thoughts. This is the principle of replacement. When
tempted to hate someone, we replace those hateful thoughts with godly
actions: we do good to them, speak well of them, and pray for them
(Matthew 5:44). Instead of stealing, we should work hard to earn money
so we can look for opportunities to give to others in need (Ephesians
4:28). When tempted to lust after a woman, we turn our gaze, praise God
for the way He has made us—male and female—and pray for the woman (for
example: "Lord, help this young woman to come to know you if she does
not, and to know the joy of walking with you"), then think of her as a
sister (1 Timothy 5:2). The Bible often speaks of "putting off" wrong
actions and thoughts but then "putting on” godly actions and thoughts
(Ephesians 4:22-32). Merely seeking to put off sinful thoughts without
replacing those thoughts with godly ones leaves an empty field for Satan
to come along and sow his weeds (Matthew 12:43-45).
5. We can use fellowship with other Christians the way God intended.
Hebrews 10:24-25 states, "And let us consider how we may spur one
another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting
together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one
another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Fellow
Christians who will encourage us in the changes we desire (best if of
the same gender), who will pray for and with us, who will ask us in love
how we are doing, and who will hold us accountable in avoiding the old
ways, are valuable friends indeed.
Last and most important, these methods will be of no value unless we
have placed our faith in Christ as Savior from our sin. This is where we
absolutely must start! Without this, there can be no victory over
sinful thoughts and temptations, and God’s promises for His children are
not for us, nor is the Holy Spirit’s power available to us! If there is
any doubt in this area, the area of our website dealing with this
all-important issue is: http://elhijodedios.com/bible/eternal-life.html.
God will bless those who seek to honor Him with what matters most to
Him: who we are inside and not just what we appear to be to others. May
God make Jesus’ description of Nathanael true also of us—a man [or
woman] in whom there is no guile (John 1:47).
How are we to submit to God?
How can believers be in the world, but not of the world?
Can Satan read our minds / know our thoughts?
Do we sin daily? Is it possible to go an entire day without sinning?
How can I overcome sin in my Christian life?
Questions about the Christian Life
How can I take control of my thoughts?
Questions About God
Does God exist?
Who is God?
Is God real?
Is God dead?
What are the attributes of God? What is God like?
What does the Bible teach about the Trinity?
Can monotheism be proven?
What is Theology Proper / Paterology?
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
Did God create evil?
Why does God allow the innocent to suffer?
Does God love everyone or just Christians?
Is God sovereign, or do we have a free will?
What are the different names of God, and what do they mean?
Where was God on September 11th?
Why doesn't God still perform miracles like He did in the Bible?
Does God hear / answer the prayers of a sinner / unbeliever?
Why does God love us?
Why was God so evident in the Bible and seems so hidden today?
Does God punish us when we sin?
Why is God a jealous God?
Who created God? Where did God come from?
How do I get the image of God as imposing and angry out of my mind?
Does God change His mind?
Has anyone ever seen God?
What does it mean to fear God?
Is it wrong to question God?
Is there anything God can't do?
Does God have a sense of humor?
Why is God so different in the Old Testament than He is in the New Testament?
Is God / the Bible sexist?
Why does God demand, seek, or request that we worship Him?
Is God fair?
Why did God command the extermination of the Canaanites?
Is God male or female?
What is YHWH? What is the tetragrammaton?
Does God make mistakes?
What does God look like?
Why does God allow sickness?
What does it mean that God is love?
Why does God create people when He knows they are going to go to hell?
Why does God allow evil men like Hitler and Saddam to come into power?
Does God tempt us to sin? What about Abraham in Genesis chapter 22?
What is deism? What do deists believe?
Does God still speak to us today?
Why does God allow natural disasters, i.e. earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis?
What was God doing before He created the universe?
What is God's will?
What is the immutability of God?
Could God create a rock so heavy He could not lift it?
Why does God refer to Himself in the plural in Genesis 1:26 and 3:22?
Why does God require faith?
Does God help those who help themselves?
Why does God allow birth defects?
Why does Scripture emphasize the right hand of God?
Does God have a physical body?
Can God sin? If God cannot sin, is He truly omnipotent?
What does it mean that God is infinite?
Why does God allow evil?
Why does Isaiah 45:7 say that God created evil?
Where is God now? Where is God when it hurts?
Does God want us to worship Him as Father?
Is it sometimes God's will for believers to be sick?
What is the key to truly knowing God?
How is belief in God any different from belief in a Flying Spaghetti Monster?
Why won't God heal amputees?
Is God cruel?
Is God imaginary?
Why did God allow the Holocaust?
What does it mean to find God?