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  • Writer's pictureJack Selcher

Impure Thought Filters

two hands forming the I love you heart shape

Cars have a cabin, air, oil, and fuel filter. They remove impurities in the air, motor oil, and fuel. In my home, we filter our drinking water and the air to remove contaminants and impurities.

Masks protect us. During the pandemic, millions of people wore them to reduce the spread of COVID. While working on the restoration of a home damaged by Hurricane Katrina, I wore a respirator to protect me while I removed moldy drywall.

When I mow leaves every fall, I wear a mask to filter out the leaf dust before it reaches my lungs. That dust inevitably clogs my lawnmower’s air filter.

God created us with free will. He didn’t install a thought filter to remove contaminants and impurities.

That’s especially obvious in people whose foul and abusive language consists of four-letter words every other word. “The mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words” (Proverbs 10:32 NLT). What’s less obvious is that those words and many negative thought patterns also dwell in our minds even though we’re Jesus’ followers.

We have a problem. Our sinful nature generates unholy thoughts as naturally as the sun generates heat and light. We often don’t recognize it’s happening. Lustful, materialistic, or prideful thoughts raise no alarm bells within us. A few minutes ago, while watching the news on television, prideful comments concerning what I was seeing and hearing gushed from my mouth. Yikes!

Unfiltered unchristian thinking easily slides into unchristian behavior. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19–21 NLT).

Our thoughts shape our feelings and behavior. Living a God-honoring life begins with God-honoring thoughts. That’s a challenge because sinful nature’s foolish, self-destructive soundtrack keeps on blaring as long as we live. How can we protect ourselves against this internal rat trap of the soul?

I evaluate almost everything I do to try to do it better. It just dawned on me that I don’t do that with my thought life. That must change. The key filter question is, “Do these thoughts demonstrate love and honor for God and others?” Would I openly express them in His presence? Know it or not, that’s what I am already doing because He promised to never leave me (Hebrews 13:5)!

God creates impure thought filters, but we must install them. Philippians 4:8 (NLT) is one such filter. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 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.”

We win the battle for our minds by fixing our thoughts on the positive and refusing to be distracted. We must be like a baseball player who focuses on a pitched ball—not the cheers or jeers of the crowd or anything else.

Philippians 4:8 describes that ball as what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. When the untrue, dishonorable, wrong, impure, ugly, and blameworthy enter our minds, we must identify them as trespassers and send them packing.

As new Christians, we were caught in the web of habitual habits and behaviors generated by wrong thinking. God provides His word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit to swing a wrecking ball into them (2 Corinthians 10:3–4). We must develop brand-new habits and behaviors built on the foundation of God’s word. We destroy every obstacle that separates us or others from knowing God. We gag our rebellious thoughts and turn our attention to obeying Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Love is the preeminent impure thought filter. We must use it to filter out childish, self-centered speaking, thinking, and behaving (1 Corinthians 13:11). We must filter out worldly thinking also—cravings for physical pleasure and material things, and pride about who we are or what we own (1 John 2:16). Let’s install love as an internal thought alarm that sounds when unloving thoughts tempt us to serve ourselves rather than God and others. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources

See free spiritual growth resources for Christians at

God has equipped and empowered me to write His Power for Your Weakness—260 Steps Toward Spiritual Strength. It’s a free devotional discipleship resource. Pastors have used it in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia to lead people to Christ and teach the basics of Christianity to 2,140 people to date. I invite you to check it out.

Photo: File: Love you!.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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