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  • Writer's pictureJack Selcher

Controlling Evil Thoughts

In a Bible study, I commented about the difficulty of corralling and controlling God-dishonoring thoughts. I was asked how I do that. I didn’t have a good answer. I need a better strategy to restrain them. I am fairly certain that you do too!

Robert Robinson wrote about wandering away from God in a hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” It contains the words, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Leaving God rarely happens as an instantaneous faith blowout. It occurs because of a slow faith leak over time.

Wandering away from God begins in our thoughts. First, our thoughts wander. Then our actions wander. That’s why renewing our minds is God’s priority (Romans 12:2). An unrenewed mind is like a beach ball held underwater with a powerful explosive inside it.

Our sinful nature applies continual pressure to rise into and sinfully influence our conscious thinking. The scent of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life reveal it has burst to the surface of our thoughts (1 John 2:16).

Where our minds are set is critical. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5, NIV).

We won’t ever be free of dark thoughts on this side of glory. How do we puncture the skin of that beach ball to temporarily disarm and sink it until its inevitable next resurfacing? How do we minimize its influence and maximize the influence of the Spirit? Once again, Jesus is our model.

In Matthew 4:4, 6, and 10, Jesus fired three rockets from Deuteronomy at the three off-ramps from the highway of God’s will that the devil proposed. Such offramps are the devil’s specialty.

Because of God’s grace, we don’t have to supply our spiritual missiles to attack the evil thoughts that push us little by little toward evil actions. God’s word provides them.

Our evil thoughts tend to follow well-worn paths, don’t they? We struggle with the same temptations today as yesterday, last week, and last year.

So, let’s arm ourselves with the word of God that “is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV).

Memorizing appropriate Scriptures makes God’s perspective instantly available. For example, if we struggle with pride, we can quote “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6, NIV). If accumulating more material things is an obsession, we can quote Jesus who said, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15, NIV).

If lust is an issue, we can quote Jesus again, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8, NIV). Better, sing a gospel song like “Create in Me a Clean Heart” to replace lustful thinking. Similarly, find and sing gospel songs that address the areas where you consistently battle with evil thoughts. Install these missiles in their silos before you need to push the launch button. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources

See free spiritual growth resources for Christians at

Photo: Félix Joseph Barrias - The Temptation of Christ by the Devil - Google Art Project - PICRYL Public Domain Search

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