Control of My Thoughts

By: Rev. Sam Harris; ©2001
Do you put on a good Christian face outwardly, but struggle with your thoughts? You are not alone. Rev. Harris explains what the Bible says about this difficulty.

Control of My Thoughts


One on the areas of my life where I really struggle is in the area of my thought life. Other areas of my life, the Holy Spirit has under His control—at least most of the time! Satan really seems to get to me through my thought life, attempting to plant “seeds” that I know are wrong. Can you offer some helpful suggestions from Scripture?


Have you ever gotten your car in a rut and found that it was extremely difficult to get it out? So often, that’s the way it is with our thought life. If we think about something often enough and long enough, we will come to the stage when we cannot stop thinking about it. Our thought life will be in a groove, and we will be unable to get out on our own. That’s when we know that we really need to call the “spiritual wrecker service.”

Two verses of Scripture have always been helpful to me, and you probably know them well: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

These words of advice from Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:5b: “…we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Philippians 4:8 should have an automatic “recall” button in our minds on a moment-by­moment basis. You can replace bad and/or evil thoughts with Philippians 4: 8 thoughts, and in doing so we “take our thoughts captive to Jesus Christ.” Let’s look at Philippians 4:8.

  1. Things that are true. There are many things in this world that are deceptive; Satan enjoys putting the “what ifs” in our thought life—just ask Eve! It’s like looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or dreaming of winning the lottery, etc., etc. It’s seeking a promise that can never be fulfilled. “True (GK: alethe) has the sense of valid, reliable, and honest—the opposite of false. We must set our thoughts on things we can rely on, that which will not fail us or let us down. That’s why it is important to know God’s truth as revealed in His Word.
  2. Things that are honorable. Paul used the word “semnos” that has been translated “honest, honorable, or noble” suggesting that we will respond only to those things that reflect the character of God and the things that would please Him. Someone who is honorable has the quality that makes him worthy of respect.
  3. Things that are right or just. This word is the Greek word “dikaios” which has as its meaning that which is upright conforming to God’s standard and worthy of His praise. Our desire is to always glorify God with our attitudes, thoughts, and actions.
  4. Things that are pure. Here the Greek word is “hagnos” which describes that which is morally pure, that is undefiled. I read somewhere the following quote that helps us to understand “purity”: “Christ will not live in the living room of our hearts if we entertain the devil in the basement of our thoughts.”
  5. Things that are lovely. Here Paul uses the word “prosphiles” that refers to things that are pleasing, agreeable, or amiable. Some minds dwell on vengeance, punishment, bitterness, fear, always critical, desiring to rebuke. The mind of the Christian is set on lovely things, kindness, sympathy, love, desiring to see the best.
  6. Things of good repute. Literally—”fair speaking.” It denotes what is praiseworthy, attractive, and what rings true to the highest standards. It describes only those things that are fit for God to hear.

I like this “Thought for the Day” that came out of Our Daily Bread several years ago: “I will go nowhere that I cannot take Jesus; I will say nothing that I would not want Him to hear, and I will do nothing that I would not want Him to know.”

Paul completes this verse with these words: “ if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” The word “dwell,” in Greek, means “careful reflection.”

Keeping this verse in your “daily thinking tank” will help you with your thought life.

When you do have stray thoughts that enter your mind, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5b: “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Worldly things that we see or hear or think are, at times, going to temporarily frustrate God’s divine plan for our lives, and so we need to take them to Jesus Christ.

Hope this is helpful.

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