Feel dominated by unwanted thoughts? Here’s how to control your thought life.
Have you ever had a thought come into your mind that you didn’t like? Maybe it was rude, sinful, mean or scary. You may have even thought, Where did that come from?
Wrong thoughts seem to come into our minds like phone calls. So, the first thing you need to ask yourself is, Who’s calling? Your thoughts only come from three places: you, God or the devil. A quick consideration will likely give you the answer. If it isn’t God—hang up!
That’s what it means to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). If it doesn’t line up with the Word, it doesn’t belong in your mind. So, when you hear thoughts like, You’re not going to get healed; you’re going to die; you’ll never get promoted; how do you cast them down? Resist them. Answer them. Don’t let your thoughts go unanswered. Say, “I’m not taking that thought.”
So, what thoughts should we be thinking?
To find out, let’s unpack Philippians 4:8, which outlines each type of thought God wants us to entertain. When you think on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, virtuous and praiseworthy, you will control your thought life and become a spiritual powerhouse.
Whatever is true. What is true? The Word of God. The devil is a liar—and he stands for everything opposite of God’s Word. When you hear thoughts that are condemning, laced with guilt, critical of others or riddled with fear, they aren’t true because they aren’t of God. Anything that is contrary to the Word of God—a disregard for life or marriage, an argument against the tithe or any other command in the Word—is not truth. And it has no place in our thought lives.
Whatever is noble. The word noble means “righteous, good, honorable, moral, decent, upright.” To think on things that fit this description, we must keep ourselves from thinking things that are the opposite. This includes much of secular entertainment these days. To keep our thoughts on what is good and righteous, we must spend much of our time thinking about the Word of God, and not polluting our minds with the things of this world.
Whatever is just. It can often be difficult to not dwell on the injustices of the world—there are so many. But putting too much focus on them can be discouraging and breed bitterness, fear and discouragement. When we see injustice, we are called to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8), pray, and take action when appropriate. But be careful not to let injustice dominate your thought life.
Whatever is pure. When we were instructed to flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), that includes sexually immoral thoughts. Lustful thoughts are sinful and destructive, and a key way Satan seeks to control the lives of people in the world. If you struggle with impure thoughts, know this—you have been made free by the blood of Jesus! John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” Ask Him to help you and deliver you—He wants you free.
Whatever is lovely. Do you think lovely things about others? Or are you cruel and condemning? Love believes the best about others. So, be sure your thoughts toward those around you are lovely and kind—always looking for the good and asking the Lord to help you be a blessing and encouragement to them.
Whatever is of a good report. There are a lot of bad reports out there. The doctor, the news, our friends and relatives, books and magazines. If we aren’t paying attention, those reports will dominate our thought life. Some people say, “Well, I have to be informed.” It is sometimes helpful to know about world events, but it is not healthy or positive for you to dwell on every negative thing the devil is doing in this world. Keep your thoughts focused on a good report, and surround yourself with others who do the same.
Whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. These things are a combination of everything listed above. Righteousness, purity, and just and loving thoughts are virtuous and worthy of praise.
When you seek to mold your thought life around those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, virtuous and praiseworthy, you will know how to control your thought life and live above the devil’s reach. You can retrain your mind to start thinking in the way God has called you to think. So, start thinking good thoughts today!