When I was growing up I had many adults speak into my life and one of the things that these older men would teach us young men was that, we will always struggle with our thought life. But that is not to say that we can’t control it, which we can through Christ. There is a lot of thought that is out there that says it all goes away once you are married. It is a lie that gives young men and women and excuse to sin with their minds before marriage. Also, the media is not helping men and women protect their thoughts either. There is a movie that is called Magic Mike that is swooning the women of the nation with its visual sex appeal, not to mention the many TV ads and the rampant pornography problem that is ravaging the nation. Everywhere we turn we are constantly being bombarded visually, audibly, and mentally with the sexual thoughts of the day. Jesus in Matthew went as far to say that just thinking lustfully you are as guilty to God as if you had actually done an immoral act.
We sometimes get lulled into thinking that it does not matter what we think but it is what we do that counts as sin. This is not the case as we mentioned earlier that it is sin. We need to contrast this topic with our knowledge of who God is. God is a Holy God who is with out sin and hates sin. God will not allow sin even to enter his presence. Even Isaiah, one of the godliest men in the OT, stood before the presence of God and said “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6). The point is even the best of us pale in comparison to the Holiness of God and we cannot even stand in His presence. If we are going to control our minds this needs to be part of our motivation. In this we need to remember what Christ did for us on the cross, His great love, sacrifice, and obedience. These should be our primary motivators.
Second Corinthians 10:5 say’s “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey God” (ESV). When I was growing up I loved playing capture the flag. In that game you had 2 teams, 2 flags, and 2 prisons in which to place your prisoners. You would take a prisoner when you tagged someone that had crossed the line and then brought him or her back to your prison. Now the goal of the game was to grab their flag and bring it back to your side. The imagery is that of taking hold of something and making it a prisoner, in a prison that cannot escape. This verse is basically saying that any thought that is contrary to what Christ teaches us we are to take it captive, place it in a prison locked up. And we are to do this in the strength of Christ to the obedience of Christ. We are called to be imitators, or people called to obey Christ. This is an act of obedience.
Let’s get practical then. What does this look like?
- Avoid situations that could cause your mind to stumble. Don’t listen, read (primarily bad with girls), or watch things that will get your mind going contrary to scripture. AKA, don’t set yourself up to think lustfully by watching a near porn movie that is only rated R. That is only setting yourself up for failure.
- Avoid being physical with the opposite sex. I know it is the popular thing to do. And sometimes it might not cause you to sin with your mind. But if it causes you to sin 1 time or the other person, don’t do it.
- Memorize Scripture. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you”. Psalms 119:11
- Pray constantly. “Pray without Ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. It is hard to think sinful thoughts when you’re praying and meditating on scripture. It just is not going to happen. This is a tool use it.
- Spend time with God. Fill your mind with good things, things that are pure, Philippians 4:8.
- Stop thoughts as soon as they enter the mind and stay consistent. Don’t give the devil any ground. The second you give him ground he will take it and expand upon it. Stay your ground.
- Give it to God. You have the freedom in Christ to walk away from a situation or thought and just let God take care of it. He has given us a helper to help us in our times of need. Take those thought prisoners and give them over to God.