Monday, March 28, 2011

My epic fails as a Christ follower: #8 Lustful thoughts

My husband says I have a brain like an Indy car.  It runs best at 225 mph.

There are times when that is a good thing.  Like when I'm doing Calculus.  But there are times when that is a bad thing and it is most frustrating when I'm trying to change or control my thoughts.  I've usually thought something and am six steps ahead before I consciously realize I even thought the first thought.  It makes reigning in my thoughts as tough as trying to reign in a team of wild horses.

And as much as it pains me to admit it, one of the hardest kinds of thoughts for me to reign in are lustful thoughts.  Even if I lived in a bubble, I would struggle.  I have a high libido.  I'm a very physical person.  I'm a very sensual person.  Physical touch is my love language (along with words of affirmation).  But then you add in the influences of our culture, the constant bombardment with all things sexual, and it is a temptation that is almost impossible to escape.

Then we have the Satan factor.  Usually that first thought isn't a big deal.  It's generally something innocuous, such as,"wow, he smells nice" or "what awesome eyes" or "he's got such a sweet demeanor".  Nothing is wrong with any of those thoughts and they don't necessarily lead to lustful thoughts.  But, for me, when they are coupled with hormones, being tired, feeling depressed or unloved, or even just boredom, then those thoughts begin to go down a bad path.  That is when Satan kicks in.  I start thinking, "A thought never hurt anyone.  No one will ever know if I just think about it.  I would never act on it, of course, but it feels good to just think about it.  I'll just take a minute to think about it and get it out of my system."

We know, though, that those are LIES!!!  In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus teaches, "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  Jesus wants our purity and that means purity of thought as well as deeds.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God".  The pureness of our heart is what allows us to be close to the Lord and that is His greatest hope for His Children, that He can reconcile them to Himself for all eternity.

Why is God so concerned with the condition of our hearts?  It is the whole premise of the "name it and claim it" movement.  Our thoughts become our beliefs and our beliefs become our actions, that prosperity begins in your heart and mind and resides there a long time before you are eventually compelled to act it out.  This is what happens with adultery or hatred or addiction or really any sin.  It begins first in our heart, with things we allow ourselves to think and feel and later manifests itself in our actions.

So how do we work on this?  How do we gain control over our thoughts?  First of all, admit that you can't handle it on your own.  You can't even conquer it between just you and God.  Not that God is not powerful enough, but you are too weak.  If you can't see the consequences of your actions, such as in a poor thought life, you will have a hard time battling it.  You will always listen to the voice that says, "but no one will know."  You need to have someone else to hold you accountable, someone who will check up on you and expect you to give them an honest answer about how you are dealing with the problem.

Next, you have to do as 2 Corinthians 10:5 says and take captive of every thought and make it obedient to Christ.  This is the hardest one for me, and one that I'm just now starting to be successful with.  What I had to do first was slow down my Indy car mind so that I could consciously think each thought.  Then I had to measure each thought against the Truth of Christ.  And I've had to commit myself to knowing that even if my flesh wants to think those thoughts, my heart wants to be pure, so even though it may feel really good to think those thoughts, it doesn't serve my overall goal, which is to be Christ-like in every way.

Lastly, think through your thought to the end.  Not just the end of the fantasy, but through to the part where your spouse would find out, where their spouse would find out, through to the part where you would have to explain to your kids what mommy did that has made daddy so mad at her.  Or even if my husband or others found out the things I think mortifying.  Suddenly, those thoughts don't feel so good.

If nothing else works, distract your mind with something else.  Read scripture, do housework, think about your spouse or their spouse.  We are promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear.  It is especially difficult to flee from sins that occur in our own mind.  So we must work to use our mental energy for Godly pursuits so there is little room for other thoughts.  The hope is eventually our thoughts will be trained to the point where we no longer go down that path.  But it is a long, arduous process to get there.

But if my pure heart means I get to see God, then it is worth it!

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