Question of the Week: How do we deal with having sinful thoughts?
Martin Luther once observed that you can’t prevent the birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest in your hair. He applied this illustration to temptation with two key passages in mind. Romans 13:14 gives us both a defensive and offensive means of combating temptation internally as well as externally. First, make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by having things in your life that you know you’ll struggle with. Practical steps in avoiding these are what’s referred to as amputation. If you struggle with pornography, get a filter on your computer/phone or remove them entirely. If you struggle with gambling or drinking, put your finances in the hands of a spouse or roommate. The examples aren’t easy to act on, but simple to identify. These efforts in cutting off negative input will show fruit in time. However, you can have no means of acting on sin and still have a sinful heart. Which is where the first point Paul made comes into play. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. An active pursuit of God is the most offensive effort you can make towards sin and darkness in your heart. Don’t just curse the dark. Pursue the light. Which is what brings us to the second passage. James 5:16 encourages accountability among believers that struggle in similar ways. Find someone who has been through the same struggles you have and talk to them face to face about the problems you’re having. Prayer and confession aren’t rituals to be performed with the permission of a priest. It is something God’s word emphasizes to be done among believers. Just make sure of three key things. If your struggles are sexual, don’t meet with someone of the gender your flesh is objectifying. That will merely be another provision for your flesh rather than a solution. If you’re looking for an accountability partner, don’t just pick someone who is just as young and frail in the faith as you are. Find someone who has seen victory in the areas you’re in bondage to and that you can look up to spiritually. And if you choose an accountability partner, make sure that the areas they are still struggling with aren’t going to cause both of you more problems then your meetings are attempting to solve. If you are going to trust someone with anything, make sure they are worthy of that trust.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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