What you believe about yourself and others comes largely from where your thoughts dwell. Proverbs 23:7 (NASB) says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Yet, controlling thoughts often seems simply impossible. Thoughts seem to pop in and out with no effort on our parts. Not only that, but our culture overwhelms us with input that seemingly directs thoughts without our conscious awareness.
When we try to control our thought lives, we lose the battle. The flesh simple does not have the strength to combat its desires. But when we are controlled by the Spirit, when we choose Jesus as our master, the role of our thought lives then becomes one that encourages and motivates yourself and others (Romans 6:15-18).
In A Woman’s Secret for Confident Living: Becoming Who God Made You to Be, Karol Ladd says that “we must be continually aware and discerning of the voice we listen to.” This sentiment finds its roots in Romans 8 which says, “those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things; but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit” (v. 5).
Being controlled by the Spirit means that we “can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God” (Romans 7:4). We can choose to obey righteousness. Doing so does not mean resting on our laurels. It means letting the power of God’s Holy Spirit direct our lives from within. Because of this, we can choose to direct (or fix) our thoughts “on what is true and honorable and right… things that are pure and lovely and admirable… things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
So how do we go about fixing our thoughts?
- Don’t think about the bad. We all wish this meant the thoughts didn’t pop into our heads. They still do. What this means is not giving them room in our thoughts once they do show up. Push them out, then proceed to #2.
- Think about good. Anyone trying to break a bad habit knows that just getting rid of the bad habit isn’t enough. It must be replaced with something else. In our thought lives, we can replace our negative, self-defeating thoughts with scripture. We can fill our minds with teaching from full-Gospel teacher and preachers. We can surround ourselves with other Christians. We can choose to read and watch only that which builds us up.
- Know truth. A study of 1, 2 & 3 John reveals a message of love, forgiveness, living in community, dealing with sin, and living a holy life. In those messages, John stresses the basic truths of the Christian faith. One repeating element in what John says is to know false by knowing truth. In other words, know the Word of God. Don’t study false doctrine, but know God’s truth to protect yourself against the false.
- Have a firm foundation. Matthew 7:24-27 provides a wonderful analogy telling us why having a firm foundation is so important in the Christian walk. And, of course, that foundation is the Gospel of Christ. Listen to it, and obey it and be “wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”
- Guard against accusations. We know that Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion” waiting to devour his victims (1 Peter 5:8). Since we know this will happen, we must guard against it by the by standing confidently in Christ. How? By directing (fixing) our thoughts, by knowing truth, and by making sure our foundation is firm.
Not only do we have the power of God to obey righteousness in our thought lives, we can also put those thoughts into action. This means that our true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy thoughts can show themselves visibly in our attitudes actions and words (Philippians 4:9).
For discussion & further study:
- Read Romans 6, 7 & 8. Reflect on the amazing life awaiting Christians who are no longer bound to the law.
- Read 1, 2 & 3 John and highlight passages focusing on the importance of knowing the truth.
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Book Discussion: For those of you reading A Woman’s Secret for Confident Living: Becoming Who God Made You to Be by Karol Ladd, please go to our Summer Book Club page to participate in a discussion about the book.