Day 74: Training Your Mind
WHAT ARE WE FILLING OUR MINDS WITH?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. -Philippians 4:8
For me it was nothing but pleasure, entertainment, and enjoyment. None of these things in and of themselves are sinful, but when they are all we can dwell on, we get into a self-centered mindset. Remember that lust is a refusal to trust - we look to fill our own desires rather than turning to God and others. We become focused on ourselves rather than God and others. And that’s exactly what sexual sin is, right? It’s our selfish fantasies and acts coming to fruition. What does the word of God teach about self-centeredness? Let's examine what Paul wrote to the churches in Philippi and Colossae:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves... -Philippians 2:3
In this letter to the Philippians, the person of Christ was being described. Philippians chapter 2 is all about molding ourselves as a body of believers into the person of Jesus.
Paul was writing to the church in Colossae instructing them to live as those who were made alive in Christ. Notice that to two different churches, Paul is instructing them to change what they dwell on regularly. Why? He recognized that what we fill our minds with is incredibly important and long lasting. The longer we dwell on sexual thoughts, the more ingrained they become and the more difficult it is to remove them from our minds.
I wish this was something that could be applied overnight, but the process can be difficult. Although this does take time, we need to start by taking every thought captive to Christ, not allowing the darkness to dwell in our minds. There are thoughts that still find their way into my mind from years ago. Things that I dwelt on with such intensity that I don't know if they'll ever fully escape me. We must be bigger than these thoughts, taking them captive to Christ, not allowing them to make captives of us.
GET YOUR MIND RIGHT
When tempted in this way we should be immediately replacing lustful thoughts with the word of God. This is the only way, and we have to act fast. Notice how quickly Joseph reacted when he was “sneak attacked” by temptation:
For myself, I learned the times when I was tempted the most and memorized specific scripture to combat those thoughts:
"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. -Job 31:1
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. -2 Timothy 2:22
It’s been said, “Luck favors the prepared.” Although luck has little to do with it, there is a good point to be made nonetheless. When we prepare ourselves for what's to come, specifically regarding temptation, we are much better equipped to handle whatever comes our way. Runners don’t start a race without preparing, composers don’t perform a show without practicing, nor do soldiers go into battle without planning. Why are we any different? Have a plan and execute it when those times of temptation come.
Day 74 Application
What has your mind been filled with in the past when you’ve struggled with sin? Have you ever had a sinful thought, specifically regarding lust, and not been able to dwell on anything else?
How can we implement the truth shown in Genesis 39:12 with our thoughts? Will you commit to having a plan against common temptations? What does that plan look like for you.
As we help others who are struggling with sexual sin, what do we have to be prepared to handle for ourselves? What kind of boundaries do we need to set so that we do not fall into sin?
How would you handle it if you were helping someone struggling with sexual sin and found yourself somehow being tempted? What would you do if you could not resolve those temptations within the context of that relationship?