The sin in our lives stems from three sources: our desires, the influence of the fallen world around us, and the devil’s schemes. There is enough motive for us to sin even without Satan’s pull. God speaks into our hearts—our minds and thoughts—with His message of Truth. Our thoughts drive our comments and, eventually, our actions, so, to keep our witness pure, we first need to capture evil thoughts. To do that, we need to stay in prayer. God calls us to pray so that He may pour His Truth into our hearts and minds.
“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” — Proverbs 4:23 (NCV)
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” — James 1:15 (NLT)
“We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5 (GW)
SO, EVEN OUR THOUGHTS are subject to God’s judgment?
Well, Jesus was pretty clear about it in Matthew 5:27-2), when He said that it’s not just a sin to commit adultery, but that if any man or woman looks upon another person with lust in their hearts, that person “has already committed adultery” (NKJV).
Does that mean it’s not enough that we not do harmful things … or make derogatory comments …we can’t even think those thoughts even if we don’t say or do them?
Isn’t that a bit much?
Seriously, apart from Jesus, who can go through a whole day without thinking sinful thoughts? It’s tough enough avoiding the actions and comments that follow, but just the thoughts?
MAYBE THAT’S THE POINT.
God knows our sinful hearts. He knows how we work. After all, He created us, and He knows our rebellion.
There’s a well-known misquote of a Bible verse that says “money is the root of all evil,” when the actual verse says it’s “the love of money” that is the root of evil and that “through this craving,” many have wandered away from the truth and faith in Jesus (1 Timothy 6:10 ESV).
James reminds us that it’s our desires (that is, our thoughts) that “entice us and drag us away” (James 1:15 NLT).
God knows that as soon as we start harboring thoughts, whatever they may be, those thoughts will overtake us and begin to drive our comments and our actions … a little at a time … until they completely take over.
Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us again in Matthew 15:11, when He said it’s not what goes into our bodies that defiles us but what comes out of our bodies.
What defiles us is what comes out of our hearts … and our mouths … and our thoughts.
GOD, IN HIS MERCY, has given us the way out.
1. He tells us what we should be thinking about:
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
2. How do we do that?
Paul tells us:
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV)
Praying “constantly” (CSB) or “never stop praying” (CEV) or “pray at all times” (GNT) are several ways of encouraging us to be in the “spirit of prayer” at all times, not that we should walk around with closed eyes and clasped palms, callouses on our knees, murmuring words that only God can hear, but that we should be “connected” to God throughout the day.
It means opening our hearts to the voice of Almighty God, even when He speaks with a “soft whisper” (1 Kings 19:12 CSB) or “gentle whisper” (NIV) or a “still soft voice” (NKJV).
3. Does God give us any help?
“Do not quench the [Holy] Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NKJV)
God places the counselor inside our hearts to nudge us, to convict us, to guide us, and to lead us. He’ll help us through the rough spots, assuming, of course, that we don’t “quench” Him or “stifle” Him (NLT) or “restrain” Him (GNT). In other words, we must be attentive to Him and listen.
4. Finally, we need to stay in His Word.
“He [Jesus] answered, ‘It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4 CSB)
We won’t know what those “pure,” “true,” and “honorable” thoughts are unless we’re in God’s Word, capturing His “pure,” “true,” and “honorable” thoughts. He is the definition of what is “pure,” “true,” and “honorable.”
Amen! God is good!
Our Heavenly Father, You know our thoughts are impure. You know we wander from the truth. We stay connected for a short time, then go astray. You keep pulling us back … through reading Your Word, through worship, through fellowship. Thank You for Your mercy. Change our hearts, O LORD, to hearts that seek the Risen Lord, that witness to the life-saving power of the Holy Spirit, that spread the message of redemption. We lift this prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen