“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. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6 NLT)
What you think about comes about! Sinfulness or holiness are attitudes of the heart developed over time as we learn to allow the Holy Spirit to harness our thought-life. Having walked with the Lord for many years, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me deal with my sin.
The closer I get to Jesus the more abhorrent my sin becomes. The more beautiful He becomes, the less attractive sin is. The closer I am to the Lord, the more natural it becomes to fill my mind with thoughts of Him.
On some levels it’s like falling in love. I’ve told you before that when my wife and I first met I literally couldn’t stop thinking about her. Over time that changed, but ironically, the longer we’re together, the more I think of her and love being with her.
It’s similar in our walk with Jesus. At first, He’s all we think about. We’re so hungry for the things of God we hardly give sin a thought. It’s like we’re walking a few inches off the ground. But over time Satan plants seeds of doubt, discouragement, and despair in our mind that trouble us and redirect our thoughts to worry and frustration. Before long we struggle to pray or read God’s Word at all.
Temptation becomes our constant companion, so we’re so busy fighting with the enemy we hardly have a thought of the Lord. It’s ironic that one of Satan’s tactics is to keep our minds so focused, either on our present problems or our past victories, we rarely allow our mind to think of future victories or successes. Why is that?
What we think about comes about! Satan knows if he can keep anything but God in your consciousness, that’s what will harness your life. If all we can think about is how bad things are, guess what, they’re only going to get worse. Faithfulness requires discipline. That’s why it’s so crucial to develop godly disciplines like reading the Bible, praying throughout the day, attending a Christ-centered, Bible-teaching church, being a part of a small group who loves Jesus and each other, and having a regular avenue of focused service for the Lord.
The only suitable response to Satan’s activity in and through temptation is complete dependence on the Holy Spirit to teach us how to respond, primarily by submitting ourselves to the Spirit’s control. If we understand our need for the armor of God, as outlined in Ephesians 6, and we faithfully wear the protection God has provided, we’ll begin to recognize and deflect the attacks of the devil.
As Pastor Tony Evans explains in his teaching on the Helmet of Salvation, sin has built-in consequences. We so often convince ourselves that what we’re doing or about to do isn’t really “sin,” that I’m really not hurting anyone but myself. Or we con ourselves into believing – “It won’t really matter because God will forgive me anyway.” When in fact the sin itself is laden with unavoidable consequences, that while, yes, God will forgive us if we sincerely repent and turn from our sin, the lingering effects of our sin can cripple our effectiveness and dull our senses to future attacks.
The fact is, the only suitable response to temptation, in whatever form, is to run! Run to Jesus in prayer! Run to a faithful brother/sister who loves Jesus and with whom you can share honestly. Run to a quiet place and pour out your heart to your heavenly Father, seeking His refuge and loving presence.
In this season of my life, I want nothing more or nothing less than everything God has for me. Like David in Psalm 34:8, I’ve tasted for myself and have seen that the Lord is good. He has everything we will ever need to satisfy every desire we will ever have. We just have to trust Him.
Blessings, Ed 😊