I was driving home from church one Sunday. It was a beautiful day, not much traffic. I enjoyed the scenery whiz by–dogwoods blooming, fluffy white clouds floating in a soft blue sky—and let my mind drift. Then my daughter in the backseat asks me, “Mommy, what are you thinking about?” Shocked, I thought, “Good question.” What I was thinking about wouldn’t be anything I would want to share. It made me remember something the Holy Spirit told me a long time ago:
“Whatever you have to hide is sin.”
Think about it. What was the first thing Adam and Eve did after they sinned? They hid. (Genesis 3:1-10) They hid because they were afraid. They hid because they were ashamed. When we sin, we also hide it—because we are afraid (of the consequences) and ashamed (of the action).
Now we know that doing something wrong is a sin—like stealing, lying, having sex outside of marriage, you name it. But did you know that thinking something wrong is also a sin?
- Mark 7:20-23, Living Bible: And then he added, “It is the thought-life that pollutes. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts of lust, theft, murder, adultery, wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, pride, and all other folly. All these vile things come from within; they are what pollute you and make you unfit for God.”
- Matthew 5:27-28, Living Bible: “The laws of Moses said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say: Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
“Whoa! That’s just too much,” you might say. No, it’s really not. God doesn’t ask us to do anything we are not capable of doing. God has high standards for us because we are created in His image and in His likeness. Guess what God absolutely knows we can do?
We can control our thoughts.
- 1 Peter 1:14-16, Living Bible: “Obey God because you are his children; don’t slip back into your old ways—doing evil because you knew no better. But be holy now in everything you do, just as the Lord is holy, who invited you to be his child. He himself has said,“You must be holy, for I am holy.”
- 1 Thessalonians 4:7, The Living Bible: “For God has not called us to be dirty-minded and full of lust but to be holy and clean.”
Jesus controlled his thoughts. Not only did he not sin, he did not think sinful thoughts. Right before Jesus went to the cross he said the devil has nothing on me. (John 14:30-31) We have the ability to reach the point where we can say the same—not letting the enemy control our actions, words or thoughts. Remember, Jesus died so he could pave the way for us. He is the first of many brothers.
Romans 8:29-30, Living Bible
“For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him—and all along he knew who would—should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers. And having chosen us, he called us to come to him; and when we came, he declared us “not guilty,” filled us with Christ’s goodness, gave us right standing with himself, and promised us his glory.”
God the Father has given us the gift of self-determination. That means we can decide what we want to do. We are not ruled by instinct. We can make “I will” statements and follow through. If we decide we want to control our thoughts, we can. We just need to believe in the Jesus’ power to keep us from sin enough to try. (1 John 5:18-19) Keeping is His part. Trying is our part. Romans 8:30 even says God filled us with Christ’s goodness, so there is no reason for us to fail.
Now, what should we think about?
Philippians 4:8, King James Version
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”