Do our thoughts control us, or do we control our thoughts? What does God expect us to do?
[Roy Holladay] It's estimated that on a daily basis there's something like 70,000 thoughts that go through your mind. Now that seems impossible, but let's say you think a lot – some people do. Some people – maybe there's a blank slate up there, and occasionally, something goes blip and pops through the mind.
God is concerned about our thoughts. He's concerned about what takes place in our mind. Why? Because conversion takes place in the mind, that's why. We are converted in our minds – not in our big toe, but in our minds. And so therefore, God is concerned about our thoughts. Let us notice in Isaiah chapter 55, beginning in verse 7, what God has to say about man, about our thinking and our thoughts. Isaiah 55, beginning in verse 7. It says:
Isaiah 55:7 Isaiah 55:7Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
American King James Version×– Let the wicked – man – forsake his way. Now notice. God doesn't want the wicked to continue in his ways, because it only brings harm. There's a penalty for disobeying God's law. This is going to bring curses upon him. So, let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. So God says anyone who is unrighteous, that he should forsake his thoughts. And let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon – that God will forgive us of our wrong thoughts and our wrong ways. Now in verse 8, God says:
V-8 – For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
So God tells us that His thoughts are so far superior to ours, that there is no comparison. In fact, David, in the Psalms, also mentioned about God: “how deep,” he says, “are Your thoughts.” And so human beings walk around in the vanity and the pride and ego in their own minds, thinking that they are something, or they know something, when they're only scratching the surface. And God Almighty is all-knowing. God's thoughts are not our thoughts – at least not to begin with.
Let me ask you a question. Are you thinking what God thinks? Are you thinking what God thinks? Most of the time, human beings do not. God commands us to control our thoughts, control our thinking – and His thoughts are so far superior to our thoughts. Again, there are no comparisons. And again, God's way is not our way. There is a way that seems right to man, but it ends in death. Only God's way is the right way. Let's go over to the book of Deuteronomy - Deuteronomy chapter 6, and we'll begin here in verse 4. It says:
Deuteronomy 6:4 Deuteronomy 6:4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
American King James Version×– Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
So God says His word – what was spoken here – is supposed to be in our heart. And we find that we are to love God. And that's a command in the Old Testament – to love God. Now this is repeated by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Let's go over to Mark chapter 12. Mark chapter 12 here, and we will begin – Mark 12, beginning in verse 28. It says:
Mark 12:28 Mark 12:28And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
American King James Version×– Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him – asked Him a question – which is the first commandment of all? What is the first? And Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel” – just what we read – “the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.”
Now the word first in the Greek means, what exceeds everything else in importance. So when He says the first commandment, He's talking about the greatest commandment. There is nothing else that is more important than to love God with all of your strength and power and your mind and your heart – to have that type of a relationship with our Maker. And, you know, it is the most important to love God. This involves our thoughts, doesn't it? When you love somebody – Brad was talking about when his daughter was born – how he didn't really know her, but there she was – he loved her. Well, he had nine months to begin to love that daughter. And even though we don't see them, there is a bond that grows, and you see that, especially in the mother. You take a mother who's suffered through child-bearing, pain, suffering, throwing up every morning, and this type of thing, and you lay that baby on her chest, and all at once, it's as if it cleans the slate. They forget almost everything, and here's the baby – the joy, the excitement that is there. Well, when you love God with all your heart and with all your mind, it involves a conscious thinking on our part. It involves our thoughts.
How do many people in society today think about God? Well, let's go over to Romans chapter 1 and verse 20 – Romans, the first chapter, and verse 20. Now let's notice sort of a summary here of the Roman world, but also, of our world today. It says:
Romans 1:20 Romans 1:20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
American King James Version×– For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God – so even when human beings could prove and know there was a God, they didn't glorify Him as God – nor were – they – thankful, but became futile in their thoughts – futile in theirthoughts – their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools – only the fool says in his heart, there is no God. And so they began to say that there is no God. And they profess to be wise – have a lot of knowledge – and yet, God says they have become fools.
The word futile – where it says they have become futile in their thoughts – means to become useless, and hence, worthless. That their thoughts have become useless and worthless – to become futile, to become worthless, to become nonsense. That God says their thinking is sheer nonsense – worthless – it doesn't amount to anything. Their thoughts become worthless, or their reasoning becomes nonsense. Literally, they become worthless in their reasoning, is what this is talking about.
And so, God says that when mankind turns his back on God – on God's revelation, on the Bible and the scriptures – goes about to establish his own doctrine, his own way of life, his own ways – he has his own thoughts that he's thinking – God says it's totally useless and nonsense. And that's basically the way the world has become.
Psalms, chapter 10, and verse 4 – another scripture that ties in with this – Psalms, chapter 10, and verse 4. It says:
Psalms 10:4 Psalms 10:4The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
American King James Version×– The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God – does not go after God – God is in none of his thoughts.
Again, I ask you the question: Is God in our thoughts? Is His way in our thoughts? Do we think what God thinks? Do we go about during the day, and when God looks down at us, does He truly say, “There's My son, there's My daughter?” And, you know, obviously, you have to work. You can't just be thinking about the Bible – especially if you've got a job, that's a little dangerous. You know, you've got to work, you've got to drive, you've got to keep your mind on the highway, but, as you drive – let's just use that as an example – do you try to drive like a Christian would? “Get out of my way!” You know, “I want that spot!” You know, “Don't you cut me off!” And you start giving – and we all know what that is – or you start cursing at somebody, or you lose your temper. You know, people began to have what they call road rage, even today. Well everything we do, in our thoughts and in our actions, should reflect God – should reflect, you know, “My thoughts and My ways.” – when I say…not mine, but God's – God's thoughts and God's ways. The word here….
Let me – going through my notes and don't want to get pages out of line. Let's go over here to Ezekiel chapter 18, and verse 25. I quoted that in the letter that I had in the eNewsletter that goes out, but Ezekiel 18:25 Ezekiel 18:25Yet you say, The way of the LORD is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
American King James Version×. Notice what God says here about the people of Israel. It says:
Ezekiel 18:25 Ezekiel 18:25Yet you say, The way of the LORD is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
American King James Version×– But – you say – in other words, here's what people say – what the Lord does isn't right – now, I'm reading to you from the Good News translation – what the Lord does isn't right. Listen to Me, you Israelites. Do you think My way of doing things isn't right? It is your way that isn't right. See, mankind believes that his way is right, but yet, God says man's way is not right – only God's is. Dropping down to verse 30 – Ezekiel 18:30 Ezekiel 18:30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, said the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
American King James Version×. It says:
V-30 – Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord – so God will judge all of us according to our ways it says. Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin – see, iniquity is what will ruin us, destroy us. So God says to repent, and part of repentance means to turn, turn around, go the other direction. Repent and turn....
V-31 – Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get – you – a new heart – God says. So, God tells us to have a new heart and a new spirit – For why should you die, O house of Israel? – and then verse 32 goes on to show that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. You know, He wants them to repent and to change. A new heart and a new spirit implies repentance – a changing. It involves turning from our ways, our thoughts, and turning to God's ways and to God's thoughts.
You know, repentance, in the New Testament, implies changing our mind, changing our thoughts, our attitude and our approach. Repentance is not something that is done outwardly, then affects you inwardly. It is something that is done inwardly – in the mind, in the heart, in our motives, in our approach, in our thinking – and it involves turning from our ways and our thoughts, and turning to God. It's interesting that the Louw and Nida Greek dictionary of the Bible has this to say about repentance in the New Testament: “to change one's way of life as a result of a complete change of thought and attitude, with regard to sin and righteousness.” A complete change of thought. We all know that at one time, before God called us into His church, that we were going a certain direction – we thought a certain way. And there had to be a total, complete change of thought and attitude. Do we still have that same approach today? Is that how we live, how we operate? Do we, you know, repent and change? It says: “Though in English” – Louw and Nida, going on – it says, “Though in English, a focal component of repent is the sorrow of contrition that a person experiences because of sin. The emphasis and the word seems to be more specifically, the total change…” Repentance is a total change, both in thought and in behavior. Again, I ask you, are our thoughts God's thoughts? Do we think like God thinks? You know, that's something that each one of us has to answer. It says: “…with respect to how one should both think and act.”
So, repentance has to do with that total change. And it involves the change of the mind, of the heart, as well as the action. See, repentance is not just talking about our actions, but it implies that we must rethink our lives – that we have to stop and think about our thought processes. Because, you know what? We don't always think the right way. There are some people that I know that I wonder if they really do think. But, we don't always think in the right way, and we have to change. Repentance, in the Greek, implies – if you look it up – it's made up of a compound word – one talking about the past, or after, and one about thinking about what you're doing. And it actually could be translated afterthought, or later knowledge. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, it means to think afterwards about our thoughts and actions. Do you ever do anything, and later on, think, “Well, you know, did I handle that properly?” I do that all the time. You do something, and you stop, and you ask yourself, “Did I handle that properly? Did I offend that person? What should I have said here?” I'm very good – an hour or two later – thinking, “Well, I should have done this” – instead of doing it at the time. So repentance implies that we rethink our lives, our thoughts. How many of us stop and rethink what we just thought? You know, am I thinking correctly? Is that the right way? We change our sinful ways when we repent.
You see, the problem with us as human beings, is that we tend to look at what? We tend to look at the outward appearance, don't we? Remember back in I Samuel 16 and verse 7, when Samuel was selecting a new king over Israel? And he anointed David? Well, he saw all of his brothers – they were tall, strapping, muscular, you know, impressive men – and God had to tell Samuel:
I Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance – man looks at the clothes, he looks at the hair, he looks at the wealth, what you've accumulated – you know, the physical appearance – but the Lord looks at the heart.
See, God is not concerned about the physical appearance – in the sense of whether you are 6'4”, 250 pounds, chiseled out of solid muscle. No, God is looking at the heart. And David was a man – what does the Bible say? – after God's own heart. Now I've not gotten around to giving that sermon – you might remember, I gave one on faith here, about Abraham being an example of faith – but there are many examples in the Bible where God evaluates someone and tells us what their outstanding characteristic was. And for David, David was a man after God's own heart. Go back and read what God said about Daniel – that Daniel was someone who was highly regarded by God. And, you know, you can go through Moses. Moses was the most humble man on earth during his day. So you can look, and you can begin to see the certain traits, then go back and study their lives, and ask yourselves, “Okay, where did he demonstrate humility? Why was David a man after God's own heart? And you'll find it makes for a very interesting Bible study.
Brethren, we become what we think. Our thinking, ultimately, is going to influence our actions. In Genesis chapter 6, verses 5 and 6, I want you to notice what happened in the old world before the flood,
Genesis 6:5-6 Genesis 6:5-6  And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
American King James Version×– Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
A whole generation – a whole world – was wiped out because of the wrong thinking of human beings and what that wrong thinking led to. It says that every intent – so the intention of the thoughts of the heart – was only evil continually. And the Bible tells us: “as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man” – you know, when He's going to return to the earth. We live in a time where man is becoming just as depraved in his thinking and it's leading to actions. Thoughts lead to actions. Thoughts lead to actions. Psalm 94 verse 11 tells us this:
God knows our thoughts. He can read our minds. He sees what's going on. You can drive down the road and you'll see some of these signs that they put up, and they've got messages scrolling across them. Or, like a television screen. You know, sometimes you watch the news and they've got this bar going across the bottom that updates you on news. God looks at our minds and it's just like a big neon sign. He can see everything that we're thinking, and He knows that, if a person's thought patterns/thinking is not right – is not correct – that eventually, it's going to lead that individual to sin. Isaiah 65 and verse 2, likewise, mentions the same thing. God says:
Isaiah 65:2 Isaiah 65:2I have spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, which walks in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
American King James Version×– I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good – that our people are living and walking in a way that is not good – according to their own thoughts.
So we see our society – and this is especially true today in the western world – where people are walking according to their own ways, and it's not good, and it's according to their thoughts. They follow their thoughts and their dictates. Now let me ask you a question: Are right actions always the result of right motivation? Are right actions always the thought of right motivation? Well, notice in I Chronicles 28:9 – 1 Chronicles chapter 28 and verse 9, where David is about to pass off to Solomon the kingship – and, you know, he had a proper succession here – he's gathered all of the gold and silver, and everything that's needed to build the tabernacle. God's told him that he can't build it, but Solomon would. So, in 1 Chronicles 28:9 1 Chronicles 28:9And you, Solomon my son, know you the God of your father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts: if you seek him, he will be found of you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever.
American King James Version×, it says:
I Chronicles 28:9 – As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind.... So what kind of a heart and mind is God looking for in His true servants? A loyal heart – one where we're loyal. We're not double-minded – where we go this way, we go that way. We know what is right and we do it. We stay on that path. We don't deviate from it. And we do it with a willing mind. You know, sometimes people obey, but they don't do it willingly. They do it begrudgingly. It says: for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.... You remember what we just read back in Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
American King James Version×and 6 – that the intent of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually? So God understands the intent of the thoughts. Again, our thoughts are a reflection of something that's going on in us. They arise in the mind and in our thinking. And there's an intent, many times, behind it. So our thoughts are not always pure the way that they should be. Ask ourselves, “Are our thoughts pure thoughts? Are they wholesome thoughts? Are they wrong thoughts? Are they good thoughts? You know, what's the intent behind our thoughts?” It says: If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.
So the mind has to be controlled to be right with God. One of the responsibilities we have as Christians, is that we've got to begin to control our minds. We've got to begin to control our thoughts, to be right with God. I asked the question: Are right actions always from right motivation?
In Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×, Peter got up, preached a sermon, and he said what? “Repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Now, who was he talking to? Well, he was talking to the Jews of his day. He was also talking to the religious leaders, and anyone who might have been gathered there in Jerusalem, and they were told to repent. Now, they kept the holy days. They did what was right. They kept the holy days. They observed the Sabbath. They tithed. They prayed – they would let you know they were praying – they would toot the horn to get your attention. They studied the Torah. They did all of these things, and yet, what did Jesus Christ say about them? In Matthew 23 He called them hypocrites, white-washed sepulchers, snakes, vipers. You know, He called them every name that you can think of, and they did, outwardly, what appeared to be right, but their motives were not right. You remember the time when Jesus Christ occasionally would heal somebody on the Sabbath day, and they would get so infuriated that they would go out and plan His murder? “How can we kill this guy? How can we get rid of Him? He's getting too big of a following. And so, when He's doing good – healing people on the Sabbath – they go out and they plan how He could be killed. Were they thinking God's thoughts when they were doing those things? Do we think as God thinks? Are our intentions the same thing that God has?
You know, on several occasions, Jesus Christ had to correct the religious leaders of His day, because their thoughts were not correct. He could read their thoughts. He knew what was going on in their minds. Notice Matthew 9, beginning in verse 1 here. It says:
Matthew 9:1 Matthew 9:1And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
American King James Version×– So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” – your sins are forgiven. And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts – He could just look at them and see what was going on up here – He knew their thoughts – said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”Now, you might say, well, how were they evil? Well, they were judging Him. They were, you know, thinking of what He did was wrong. So, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise and walk?”
And so, Jesus Christ healed him. See, in order for obedience to be acceptable to God, it must come from a repentant heart. It must come from the right actions. The Jews – in Christ's day, and many today – keep the Sabbath, keep the holy days, and they do what they “know to do” from the Old Testament. And yet, God does not accept that. And you and I can sit in church for years – we can be here, we can keep the Sabbath, we can go to the holy days, and we can do many things. And yet, if it is not from the right spirit, the right attitude, the right thoughts, the right motivation, it is, ultimately, not going to be acceptable to God. It has to come from a repentant heart. Hebrews, chapter 4, and verse 12, tells us this – Hebrews 4, and verse 12 – about the word of God:
Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×– For the word of God is living and it's powerful, and it's sharper than any two-edged sword – so the word of God is a very sharp instrument – piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
So how can you and I come to understand, are my motives right? Are my intents correct? Are my thoughts right? Well, the Bible – the scriptures – tell us that it's a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. You sit down and begin to read the Bible and it begins to give you principles. It tells you how you should be living. It actually tells you what you should be thinking. And you have to ask yourself, “Is this the way I think? Is this how I behave?” And you begin to see that there is a difference.
Right actions must come from right motivation. Right actions must come from right motivations. Our thinking must be willingly submissive to God. We can't be fighting God. If God says to do something, our attitude must be, “Yes, Sir. Yes, Lord. Thank you.” It might not always be easy, but we pray for the strength, the right mind, the right character, the right attitude. The mindset comes first. If our mind and thoughts are right, then the results will be correct. The results are naturally going to flow in the right direction. Are we thinking what God thinks? Psalms, chapter 139, and verse 17 – we read:
Psalms 139:17 Psalms 139:17How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
American King James Version×– How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
So in David's mind – why was he a man after God's own heart? Well, he says that God's thoughts are precious to him. You read Psalm 119 – the first verse to the end of that chapter – and you'll find each verse talks about God's law, in one form or the other. And that David meditated on God's law. Notice Psalm 119 verse 59:
Psalms 119:59 Psalms 119:59I thought on my ways, and turned my feet to your testimonies.
American King James Version×– I thought about my ways - Psalm 119, verse 59 – and I turned my feet to Your testimonies.
So we think about our ways. We measure it by the standard that God has given us in the scriptures – by the word of God. And we turn from our ways, and we go God's way. We seek Him. Let's notice in Ephesians, chapter 4, and verse 17. Ephesians 4:17 Ephesians 4:17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
American King James Version×, where, this is all, I think, spelled out for us clearly in the New Testament:
Ephesians 4:17 Ephesians 4:17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
American King James Version×– This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk. How do they walk? How do they live? Where your walk…not talking about short or long steps, but it's talking about how you live – your walk of life, your way of life. So, you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their minds – their minds – you know, the futile way. Walk implies action – how they live, how they treat one another, how they think of God and one another.
The heart of man, the Bible says, is what? It's deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Or, as another translation says, it is totally sick; it's desperately wicked. Who can know it? Let's go on to verse 18 here. It says:
V-18 – …having their understanding darkened.... So when people follow their own minds, their own way of life, their own thoughts, cut off from God, and they don't use the Bible as the standard to go by, they become darkened in their mind. And anyone who walks around in darkness is going to stumble and fall. So they walk in darkness – ...being alienated from the life of God – so, they're aliens from God's life – His way of life – because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the blindness of their heart – they're ignorant. Their hearts are not right. Who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness – and so, it's describing the way of life of the unconverted and how they live, cut off from God. And verse 20:
V-20 – But you have not so learned Christ if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus – and then he says – verse 22 – that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts – the old man is the old way of life that we lived. It's the old way of thinking. It's the old way of actions that we have had in going in the wrong directions. Our actions have to spring out of a repentant heart – out of a changed mind and heart. And as verse 23 goes on to say:
V-23 – and be renewed in the spirit of your mind – so there's a newness that takes place. We have a new mind, a new heart, a new attitude – and put you on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
So what we are striving for, is to have true righteousness, true holiness. The true mindset is only possible through God's Spirit. It takes the Spirit of God to do that. You cannot have that mind – that attitude – without the Spirit of God.
We must reject the way the world thinks. Sad to say, here's where the problem comes in. We are so influenced by this world. You know, at one time, it was very simple. People basically lived on farms. You see your neighbor, you know, maybe once a week. You're there with your family. You go out and work all day, come home at night, eat, maybe open the Bible, study it, read a book, go to bed. Well, it's not that way anymore. You've got TV, and you've got TV, and you've got TV, and you've got your cell phones. You can Twitter and be Twitter-pated. You can have Facebook. Here's all of this communication – all this influence – that comes at us – constantly at us. You're just bombarded, and then you have Satan's influence on top of that, because he broadcasts and he's influencing all of these things. And if we don't keep our minds clearly, fully focused on the Bible – on what the Bible clearly teaches us – then we're going to run into problems.
I found today, in the church, that a lot of people think that they're enlightened, or they become enlightened. Well, I know we used to teach that a woman is supposed to submit to her husband, but, you know, that's sort of archaic. When did it become archaic? The Bible's very clear about that. The same thing is true when it comes to child-rearing. Well, I know you're supposed to correct your children, but, we're more modern today. So we…maybe one time we went to this ditch. Now we're over here in this ditch, paddling along. And we go from one extreme to another. Same thing is true of politics. Many today want to get involved in politics – favoring one party, one man, or whoever it might be, and don't realize – I don't care what party it might be – only God is going to be able to solve our problems when it comes to governing. What about warfare? I've heard young adults talk about. “Well, you know, it wouldn't be wrong to go off and fight in a war. If somebody breaks into my house, I'll kill him,” and, you know, this type of approach.
Do we still base what we believe, how we will react, upon the scriptures and what the Bible has to say? Notice in 1 Corinthians 14, and verse 20. It says:
I Corinthians 14:20 – Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be – babies when it comes to malice – but in understanding be mature.
So we are to be mature. We must submit our thoughts to God's thoughts. You see, God's thoughts are so far superior to ours. He knows how the model works. So in understanding, we must be mature, and we need to stop thinking like children – like spoiled brats – and begin to think the way God thinks.
Now how's that going to happen? Well, in 2 Timothy, chapter 1, and verse 7, we read this:
2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×– God has not given us a spirit of fear – you and I don't have a spirit of fear – but - it is a spirit of – power and of love and of a sound mind.
The Spirit of God imparts to us the ability to love in a right way – to love God with all of our heart, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It imparts that to us – the power of love and to control our thoughts, to love God above all – takes the Spirit of God to do so – to love your neighbor as yourself – you can't do that on your own – that takes God's Spirit. A sound mind refers to also sound judgment, and can be translated that – a sound mind, sound judgment, where you control your thoughts. We must judge right from wrong. We must walk away from the world's standards and the world's values, and its way of life. You see, those standards and values are of the devil. He's the god of this world. And the values that are not found in the Bible are not of God. You know, they come from a different source.
It is under our control to decide what to do with our thoughts. God has made it possible for us to control our thoughts. Jesus Christ, you might remember, the Bible says, was tempted in all points as we are, but He didn't sin. Why? He did not allow evil thoughts to stay in His mind. He may have had a wrong thought go through His mind, but, it came through, and that was it. He didn't dwell on it. He didn't think about it. Evil thoughts that come into our mind doesn't mean that you have sinned. You only sin when you begin to think about those thoughts, when you dwell on those thoughts, when you cogitate and you begin to think. What if a lustful thought comes into your mind, and you say, “Well, that's lust, and I'm not going to think that,” and you change your thought and you begin to think of something else. You haven't sinned. And that was what Jesus Christ was able to do perfectly. Why? Well, He had the Spirit of God from birth, but He also was close to God. And, too often, when a wrong thought comes in, we think on it. Lust, vanity, pride, hurt feelings, hatreds, contentions, jealousy, envy, anger – you know, all of these things – come along. “Well, I have a right to be angry.” Well, then we get angry with someone, or we get hurt feelings, or we begin to despise somebody. And we have all of these feelings, and we nourish that, and we begin to think about them.
Notice Matthew 15, verse 8. Matthew, chapter 15, and verse 8 – remember what Christ said here. It says:
Matthew 15:8 Matthew 15:8This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
American King James Version×– “These people draw nigh – or near – Me with their mouth” – so there are a lot of people who talk about God, praise God – you know, they draw near God with their mouth – they “honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”
Our heart has to be close to God. Our thoughts have to be God's thoughts. So there are things that do proceed from the heart. Verse 18 – He goes ahead and talks about this, because, remember the Jews condemned Christ's disciples because they were eating with unwashed hands. So you find, beginning here in verse 18, that Christ showed that that's not what defiles somebody – eating with unwashed hands. It says:
V-18 – “…those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” – what comes out of our mouth – what we say, what we think, our actions – “For out of the heart proceed – what? – evil thoughts – evil thoughts – murders” – see, this – He begins to enumerate what some of these evil thoughts are – murders – you're a murderer if you hate your brother – “adulteries” – lust – “fornications, thefts” – you got it, I want it, I'll take it. You know, that's basically what that's talking about – “false witness” – not telling the truth – “blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
So you and I can be defiled by what comes out of our heart. And so, the motivation must come from a change within us. Let's go over here to Romans, chapter 12 – Romans the 12th chapter, beginning in verse 1:
Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version×– I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind – so we're not to conform to this world – that means to its standards, to its way of life – but, we are to conform to God – but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
So what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God – that's what we are striving to do. Now with that in mind, 2 Corinthians, chapter 10, and verse 5 tells us this. 2 Corinthians, chapter 10, and verse 5 – it says:
2 Corinthians 10:5 2 Corinthians 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×– casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Do we believe that it's possible to bring every thought into obedience? Well, that's what it tells us here. Now to begin to do that, first of all, you've got to cast down all of the wrong things, all of the wrong arguments, every high thing that exalts itself against God. If it's not in the scriptures – you know, if it's not according to God's principles and values/standards, His law – then we cast it down. And we bring every thought into captivity. You could put it this way: we – when we become converted – we have cognitive restructuring going on in our minds. The way we think and the way we look at things are to be different. God expects us to bring every thought into captivity. Now how do you do that? How's that possible? I would dare say, if you go through a whole day saying, “I'm not going to think anything wrong today,” that you will find you have a mighty struggle on your hands. How do we go about doing that? Well, Psalm 119, verse 11, gives us a clue – actually, gives us the information. Psalms 119, and verse 11:
So the word of God is to be hidden in our heart. That's the scripture. We hide, or we store, the word of God in our hearts and our minds. What that means is, that you and I must saturate our minds with the word of God. How can we fight wrong thoughts? How can we fight wrong standards and wrong ways and impulses and pulls that come at us unless we have the word of God etched in our mind? We hide or store the word of God in our hearts. We saturate our minds; we soak our minds with God's thoughts. We devote ourselves to God's word. The scriptures are God's thoughts. The Bible says, “Thy word is truth.” And so, the scriptures are God's thoughts. Let's go back here to John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×, where we read:
John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×– “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you – the scriptures, the words – The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
So if we're going to have the spiritual power and the ability to be able to resist, we have to saturate our minds. This shows, you know, the scriptures show how God views things. How can we resist the devil, this world and wrong thoughts on our own? You see, if we're not studying the word of God and putting that word in our minds – reminding ourselves, filling our minds…. Bible study is the key. Our minds must be filled with the right principles. So the wrong thoughts come along – number one – we recognize it as a wrong thought. Secondarily, we have something to push it out with…because, we've got counter-thoughts that we can replace it with. And so we do something different. So our minds must be filled with the right principles. And if we do that, then we have a fighting chance to overcome and to change, and to be able to get rid of these wrong thoughts.
Remember this: conversion is from the inside out, not the outside in. It starts inside – in the mind, in the heart, in the thoughts, in the attitude, in the approach. We can have right actions, and they will not avail us, unless they come from a repentant heart. They've got to come from a repentant heart – come from the right motives, right attitudes and right spirit. You see, God isn't going to give us eternal life just because we're doing right, if we're not doing right with the right intention and the right motives and with the right spirit.
So you and I are to have the mind of Christ. We can't hold anything back from God. We have to obey in every area of our mind. We can't reserve a little area over here that, “Okay, you know, this is my area.” No, every area has to be submissive to God. We have to live by the standards of God. He's always right. His thoughts are always perfect. So again, are you thinking what God thinks?