Multitudes of people these days spend far more time scanning social media than reading the Bible. Sadly, this habitual practice does little to feed a person’s soul.
So how have things been going lately in your thought life? Have you been filling your heart and mind with wholesome thoughts, or with needless trivia? Worry and ungodly thoughts are an ever-present danger that chip away at our peace of mind and produce spiritual and mental unrest.
It has aptly been noted: “The battleground is the mind.” And I suspect you have discovered this reality to be true in your own life. “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Therefore, protecting our heart is of utmost importance. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
People often unknowingly reveal their thoughts to others. How so? Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). What have your words been communicating to others about your thought life?
James Allen wrote, “Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves.” The way to improve myself is to improve my thinking. If I refuse to do so, I will never get any better.
The Apostle Peter wrote his epistles to believers in order “to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” Thankfully, the Word of God is pure and life-changing. When a person meditates upon Scripture, he is filling his mind with the holy and undefiled thoughts of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Do you read the Bible as often as you consume the human interest stories of the day? Tantalizing trivia is like cotton candy for the soul. There is no nourishment in it. Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
David declared, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). And D.L. Moody penned this keen insight: “Sin will keep you from the Bible, and the Bible will keep you from sin."
Scripture clearly spells out the wages of sin, as well as the source of holy living. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your Word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9,10).
What have you been hiding in your heart? God’s Word, or sinful thoughts you would be ashamed to admit to others?
The Apostle Paul wrote this beautiful prescription for peace:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
God guards our mind when we live by faith and engage in wholesome thinking.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Notice the difference between the "peace of God” and “peace with God.” Every believer in Jesus Christ has “peace with God.” “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1,2).
A Christian’s standing with God does not change. It is fixed and secure. The thing that fluctuates is the amount of peace we experience hour by hour. “Peace with God" refers to our permanent relationship. The “peace of God” is experienced when we trust the Lord in the midst of our daily struggles and meditate upon things that are noble and pure. When we worry or dwell upon unholy things, we lose some of the "peace of God" that had been powerfully “guarding our hearts and minds” (Phil. 4:7) while we were entertaining admirable thoughts.
Immoral and dishonorable thoughts produce doubt, fear and impurity within us. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). God will assist us as we aim to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Christians are instructed:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
The late evangelist Oswald Chambers wrote,
“You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual maters you will think yourself into cotton wool. If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ with regard to it and everything will become as clear as daylight.”
You see, God works in the lives of his children to make us more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit leads us to “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). Our thought life is the most critical aspect of our spiritual life. Without a wholesome thought life, it is impossible to live a godly life.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Obedience to Christ always begins with the thoughts we choose to entertain. When we fall short of the mark, we can bring our sin to our Savior and pray: “Wash me Jesus with your precious blood; empower me and lead me as I now fill my mind with Scripture.” A clean mind is an essential aspect of clean living.
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.