What Does The Bible Say About Our Thoughts?

What Does The Bible Say About Our Thoughts? October 21, 2019

What does the Bible say about our thoughts? Can we control them or are there other influences which affect our thoughts?

Our Nature

We do not live in a neutral world. Our minds are held captive by something…or better yet, someone. They are held captive by someone we might not even believe in, but the Bible tells us who it is behind our thought life. When Jesus was speaking about adultery, He said that it’s not only the physical act that is sinful, but in our minds we can sin too. The Lord said “that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). To be sure, sin begins in the mind before it’s ever manifested in the flesh. We think about it…ponder it, and then act on it. The fruit the human heart naturally produces evil works, so whatever starts in the mind can end up being “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Gal 5:19-21a), and the bad news about those who bear such fruit is that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21b). The fruit reveals the root, and until we’ve received the Holy Spirit, we cannot possible bear righteous fruit like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23).

Overcoming our Thoughts

Since we cannot bear righteous fruit without God’s Spirit, how can we take captive these thoughts that are unwholesome, to say the least? The Apostle Paul said “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). So how do we demolish such thoughts when they enter our mind? Again, without God’s Spirit, we have no hope of reforming our own thoughts. Paul has said that “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4), so until we’re set free from the clutch of Satan and his minions, we remain blind, even though we think we can see. Only trusting in Christ allows us to resist the Devil, and only then will he flee from us. David had a way of resisting evil thoughts and then having those thoughts bear sin. He wrote, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11), so along with the Spirit of God we have the Word of God to help us avoid such evil thoughts, and only then are we able to “not sin against” God.

Transformed

One way to eliminate something is to replace it with something, and in the case of our thoughts, replace them with something much better. For example, we can dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8), instead of dwelling on whatever is sinful, lustful, or pleases the flesh. By allowing the Spirit of God to renew our minds, we will “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). With the Spirit of God and the Word of God, we can renew our minds. The Word of God allows us to walk in safety since the “word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). His Word shows me the path in order that I might stay on the path and avoid leaving the path. That’s the power of God’s Word.

Sanctification

Before conversion, our thoughts gravitate toward whatever pleases us, with little or no regard for those around us. If we are fulfilling the desires of the flesh, we could care less about the fruits of the Spirit. Our minds will be held captive until we repent of our sins and put our trust in Christ. Only then can we have God’s supernatural power; the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God takes the Word of God and changes the child of God into being more like the Son of God. I don’t mean we’ll be sinless, but we should sin less over time. Sanctification takes time…in fact, it takes a lifetime, and only until we enter the kingdom will our minds be completely free of evil thoughts, desires, and intentions.

Conclusion

You cannot take captive any thoughts you have but only for a moment or only temporarily. Eventually, our minds will gravitate to unholy things, that is unless we are in the Word of God daily and have the Spirit of God in us. When we’re saved, we receive a new nature…the nature of God, and even though it falls infinitely short of God’s mind, we strive to have it renewed daily by prayer, by the Word, and by His Spirit, so we can receive help from God in overcoming our thought life, particularly our thoughts on things of the world and of the flesh. Paul asked the Corinthians, “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Paul admonishes us to “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-7). When we focus on serving others in humility, there is no room for selfish thoughts to satisfy the flesh. Instead of it being all about us, the mind of Christ makes it all about others. We cannot control our thoughts but the Spirit of God can. The Spirit of God allows us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil 2:3).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is an ordained elder of the Brethren Church and a Pastor and Prison Minister in the State of Kansas, but also a writer at Christian Quotes and What Christians Want to Know which address questions about the Bible. He also plants ministries like nursing home ministries, Outreach for the poor, and other evangelistic activities, and check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • pud

    Who cares what the buybull says about anything? Do you care what the Q’ran or Bhagavad gita says? Rational adults care about what is TRUE and demonstrable not what some ancient ignorant people “believed”

    Define what a “spirit” is and demonstrate that any such thing actually exists.

    You jack do not and most likely never will care about what is actually true. You’re so fully indoctrinated in your ritual human blood sacrifice cult you’ll jump through as many hoops as possible to maintain your delusions. Critical thought, reason, logic, evidence are immaterial to you. Your fantasmagoric vision of demons and goblins, angels and other worldly realms is where you dwell…truth be damned.

    All this would be fine if you were just an ignorant old man who kept his insanity to himself but you don’t, can’t and won’t as you peddle your superstitious nonsense to whomever will give you the time of day…and worse…to children. For shame jack, for shame.

    • Jm Loy

      Hmmm you’ve actually no purpose on this forum, but your own agenda. Sigh…..save your time. No one should seriously have dialogue with you. ………moving on.

      • pud

        Don’t care…I’m not looking to make friends. My job is to expose your sick death cult for what it actually is.

        • Jim Kayser

          “Job”? You’re getting paid to be angry and venomous? Not exactly the career arc I’d want to be on. If it’s not a paying gig, then you’re spending your free time being angry and venomous, which seems an even bigger waste. Either way, it’s your life, have at it. Makes for good comedic relief.

      • Maltnothops

        pud may be an arsehole but that doesn’t mean he is wrong.

  • Jack Wellman

    Sorry Pud. The burden of proof is on you, so since you’ve failed at this, blocked again. Praying for your soul oh lost one. So sad for you.

    • Christiane Smith

      Hello Jack Wellman,
      maybe, for a while longer, just a little while longer, you might give Pud voice here, as he seems to need to be heard is all. He needs someone to listen to the pain behind his words. It’s time for Advent soon. For renewal. It’s time to hope for better to come. I don’t know the history of this person ‘Pud’ or why he is here, maybe only God knows the truth of it. But he came here for a reason that is not altogether to be judged by our own understanding, I think. Can he not stay through the Advent/Christmas seasons, please? If you can let him stay, it may do some good for him. It is said, that God is Present in our listening. Listening, also, is a Christian ministry.
      God Bless!

      • pud

        Is your “god” present when a child is being sexually abused? Is he right there watching?

      • Jack Wellman

        Hello Christine. I have not banned anyone from this site. All who wish to comment, may do so. Pud needs our prayers as she is so lost and angry at God, so yes, she is hurting Praying for her to be saved. Even a Saul can become a Paul by God’s grace.

        • Christiane Smith

          If it’s any comfort to you, this person who is troubled seems to ‘need’ to be here, and sometimes when people are acting out on the surface, they will try to find a ‘safe place’ where they know no one will hurt them. Perhaps this is the case with this troubled woman? We don’t see the whole story, but I do know this much: people in the darkness will move towards the light, and this person who is troubled has found your blog. Not a comfort? I know. But in God’s economy, He finds ways to heal people that sometime makes use of extraordinary means.
          Be blessed. 🙂

          • pud

            If anyone is “troubled” it is you. I don’t worship a book nor do I preach shame and guilt in the name of a sick death cult. You are delusional. A pitiful ignorant cult drone “believing” in nonsense and superstition like billions of other delusional people before you who “believed” in their respective gawds with the same ridiculous conviction as you.

          • Christiane Smith

            Sometimes a little music makes you feel better for a while.
            From Alaska, this family strings band has a home on the same island where my son lives. I hope you enjoy this:
            https://youtu.be/2nHk1i9Kl20

          • pud

            Makes me want to throw up….like an ice cream sundae covered in sugar and maple syrup

        • pud

          Nothing fails like prayer coward.

          Saul was a delusional religious lunatic…some role model.

  • Christiane Smith

    “When we focus on serving others in humility, there is no room for selfish thoughts to satisfy the flesh. Instead of it being all about us, the mind of Christ makes it all about others.”

    AMEN, AMEN, AMEN

    https://youtu.be/POm7_WBMJTI

    • pud

      How come gentle jebsus meek and mild doesn’t cure childhood cancer?

      • Christiane Smith

        a saying in my Church:
        “Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or to remove it. He came to fill it with His Presence.”

        • pud

          That’s nice…is he “present” when children are being abused? Is he there passively watching the whole spectacle? You and your cult can “say” anything you want but absent evidence it’s all just nonsense and make believe

  • Jm Loy

    Jack, thanks for this topic. It is an invaluable subject in the process of sanctification. You have done in this small article what takes others to write lengthy books on.

    1 correction and 2 suggestions. First under Our Nature, just before the next one you have “we cannot possible bear righteous”. Correct “possible” to “possibly”.
    It is typical for Christian writers when using a translation that they reference it as: KJV, NKJV,NIV,NLT, etc. Also, using “fruits” is grammatically correct but it points to one tree, making it fruit. But I hope this doesn’t disturb you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  • Some people believe that breath meditation can be a more valuable tool that helps some people practice lovingkindness and to help people control their thoughts better. This doesn’t mean that it is for everyone. But some people believe that it is more helpful than following the god(s) of ancient holy books and their religious gurus who claim to be experts in parsing them.

    Just breathe in slowly, hold the breath, then breathe out slowly. You can focus your mind on peace and compassion. Such a practice doesn’t require the existence of god(s) nor does it require any temples, synagogues, churches or mosques. No religious gurus nor holy books are needed. Just love the people you meet on your life’s journey.

  • Hi Jack,

    It’s been a very long time since you have written a post. I hope you are still in good health and that nothing ill has overtaken you. If you are sick, I hope for your speedy recovery. May compassion, healing-mercy and loving-kindness surround you. May peace guide you, strengthen you and inspire you to continue to love others and be a peacemaker. Your atheist internet friend, John Arthur.