“Help! Evil thoughts keep rising up and attacking me! I can’t stop it!”
Does this ever describe how you feel? Do unwanted thoughts keep popping into your mind no matter how hard you resist them?
Welcome to the club. Just about everybody can identify with you, to some degree or another. Whether it is sexual temptations, lies about identity, hatred toward others or self, ill-will toward others—you name it, people have thought it.
So what can we do to combat these thoughts?
I believe the key is to switch from a defensive to an offensive stance.
This happens in two ways. First, by depositing pure, quality information into your heart; and second, by exercising self-control whenever an unwanted thought flies by your mind.
Your heart is the warehouse in which you hide all your treasures. What you put into your heart is what will come out which is who you are. Solomon explains this in Proverbs 4:23 by warning to “watch over (guard) your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
If someone fills their warehouse with pebbles, they will eventually run out of jewels to give people and will only be able to give pebbles. Or if someone only eats junk-food, their body will wear out and shut down or at least feel terrible. It is the same with the mind and heart!
Obviously, the first action is to repent and have faith through which God gives you a brand new heart.
But even after salvation, we must continually deposit good information into our hearts. This is done by reading and memorizing Scripture, listening to the Spirit, listening to quality music, participating in uplifting conversation, learning from wise people, and doing things with Jesus. These are what will produce pure thoughts and desires.
“But I’m doing all that!” you say. “I work hard to prevent lies and temptations, but they keep coming!”
I like how Martin Luther put it. He said “You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.”
In other words, thoughts and temptations, even feelings, will come through your mind, but it is your choice whether to let them stay there.
Whenever unwanted thoughts come around, begin thinking about something else. Do what Paul told the Philippians and think about whatever is true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable or anything excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
Paul is talking about self-control which literally means “to control yourself.” You are not helpless! God has given you the freedom and ability to choose what you do and think (Galatians 5:22-23).
But it is hard! This is why we have to begin by depositing quality information into our hearts. Then later, we will have a whole storehouse of good information from which to draw.
When a tempting thought flies by, recite Scripture or think about friends and family and fond memories. Pray for people and ask God to reveal Himself to them in new ways. Think about your future hopes and dreams, tell God about them and commit them into His care.
And, as God constantly told the children of Israel, remember what God has done in the past, whether great (like a miracle) or small (like a snowy day).
There is one last thing everyone must do if they want victory over satan. It seems defensive, but it is really offensive:
Tell satan “to git.”
If you are a child of God, you have all of His authority in the name of Jesus to tell satan to leave. Submit to God, resist the Devil and He will flee (James 4:7). And while He’s running away, take all His junk and pebbles and throw them out of your warehouse.
Every time nasty thoughts comes to mind, just pray “Jesus, I don’t want to think those thoughts. Would you take them away? Would you fill my mind with your thoughts? Thanks, Jesus. I love you.”
I’m so glad you wrote this article mainly for the fact that as humans I think we don’t realize what we put ourselves through when it comes to satan’s mind tricks. Often times we just put up with those negative thoughts by shrugging it off as “no big deal.” But that is the part where we are wrong. If we leave those foreign thoughts alone then we begin to add to the negativity going through our heads. Then we realize the need to ask for help through Jesus Christ and make those thoughts leave!
I have a friend right now who is going through something like this so will definitely pass the article onto her. Not to mention it gave me a few friendly reminders.
I’m glad you found this article helpful!
I love the phrase “foreign thoughts.” That’s a wonderful way to put it because that is what they really are! They don’t belong in our minds because we are children of God!! Amazing!
Thank you, Christopher – I needed this one 🙂
Nice one Chris!
Yeah, just because satan comes at you with a temptation, it’s not sin for you unless you “buy it.” If you reject the temptation, whether it be a thought or an action, then you’ve done everything right.
Another strategy for extinguishing evil thoughts from your mind, is simply to cry out to Jesus and say: “Lord, you know this thought does not belong in your precence, please help me to get rid of it.”
I’ve got a book reccomendation, “Practicing His Precence,” by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. It’s an excellent book, and it goes along with this subject quite well. ~Grant
I too have read “Practicing His Presence”… it is a fantastic read!
Excellent prayer, Grant!! Thanks for sharing!
Yes, I actually have “Practicing His Presence” but have never read it in entirety. Thanks for the recommendation!
Hard topic! Great advice!
As Christians we must always remember 1 Cor. 10:13… “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but GOD is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
THANK YOU, GOD!
What a fabulous verse! Praise God for His grace!!
I needed to hear this today. Thank you, Christopher! And I love that Martin Luther quote. 🙂
Wow I really needed to hear this-thanks so much!
I realize a lot of people already said this but… I really needed to hear this today! Thanks Christopher, this is good stuff about a hard topic!
Christopher, thank you for sharing this. It’s awesome how God is ready to protect us all the time, and we just need to ask! Pushing past temptations is a struggle, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.
Good article Christoper. Everyone has to deal with bad thoughts, even us socially awkward homeschoolers. When i was dealing with my self worth, in addition to reading the Bible, it helped to talk to my parents about it. They helped me to see the things that I was good at and to not compare myself to others. Thanks for the article again.
Good suggestion! Thanks for sharing!
P.S. You’re probably not as socially awkward as you think. 🙂
You’re right; I’m really not. I was just using that as a typical homeschooled stereotype. 🙂 But hey, you’re welcome. Your articles are very mature and very meaty; I appreciate that. Thanks.
Thanks! Praise God!
Hey, just wondering. you have the word “Moderator” after your name just like Brett does. That mean you are also “in charge” here?
Brett’s in charge here; that’s just there to make me feel cool. 🙂
Yes, very nice article, Christopher! Good things to think about and great suggestions to implement. Thanks!
The suggestion of talking to parents (or another appropriate person(s)) is a fantastic one! While it might seem awkward (hard?) to open up about your inward struggles, doing so will result in excellent results. When I opened up to my parents about my inward struggle with lust and asked them to pray for me, it turned out to be the breakthrough I needed.
*My first comment here*
Welcome, Stephen! Great to have you! 🙂
Thanks 🙂 Recently I’ve been visiting the Rebelution quite often and usually come away encouraged and inspired.
Thanks Christopher! This is one of the very subjects that have been nagging on me and tearing me down. Making me feel like there is not way out. Thanks for the encouragement! It really is good to know that others deal with this just as much. Thanks again!
I know what you mean, Samuel! I felt the same way until this summer when I read a little book a friend of my Dad wrote. Realizing that just about everybody struggles with this really takes the burden off of conquering it! I’m still growing, but I know victory is possible!
Keep it up!
Agree completely with Samuel here and he put it so perfectly. This has been a huge issue for me as well and can at times ruin my whole day. It helps so much knowing others go through this and this is such encouragement! I will memorize Philippians 4:8 and think of it whenever I get one of those thoughts. Thank you!!
This is so perfect. I have been struggling with this, too. I also found that asking someone to pray for you helps a lot too. I asked my mom to pray for me and as soon as I did, I found that I wasn’t struggling nearly as much as I had before…
Thanks for your post!
That is awesome Annalysa! I remember one time taking my Mom a slip of paper with a bunch of prayer requests on it! Years later she came and asked if I wanted to update it!
I miss that some much now that she is gone!
That’s a great idea…thanks for living for the Lord!
Wow…Christopher…I’m really sorry about your Mom. That’s gotta be rough. 🙁
Thanks for the great Article Christopher!
One thing that I suggest, that Christopher touched on, is when you have something you really don’t want to be thinking about try reciting a passage of scripture for memory. If you don’t memorize scripture through a program such as Awana try picking a short chapter of the Bible an memorize. Then when you have those times that you need to shoo away dirty thoughts you can recite that chapter. Try memorizing Psalm 23 or 1 Corinthians 13 so you have it to use as a tool when you need ig.
Excellent advice, Joy! Thanks!
Great article! I totally agree, and I want y’all to try something.
For ten seconds, don’t think ANY thoughts about…say….pickles. Don’t think about them. Don’t do it.
Didn’t work, did it? Now try this…think only about french toast for ten seconds. Now.
When you were thinking about the french toast, did you think about pickles as much as you did the first time, or were you totally consumed with the awesomeness of french toast? 😉
I’d like to think it’s the same way with sin – the more you try not to think about it, the more you think about it. But when you focus your thoughts on something awesome, say, God’s word, then you won’t think about sin nearly as much. 🙂
Hope this helps and I didn’t start something with french toast and @programguy:disqus 😉
Wow Josh, that’s a really great way to put it! Awesome thought! Not to say that I don’t think pickles are just as awesome as French Toast but…:)
Yes! Pickle lovers unite!
Pickles are icky and slimy. 😛
I can’t argue with that sort of delusion 😛
Yeah, comparing pickles to sin? I love the analogy here but there’s something wrong with that, lol. 🙂
Yes!!! Thank you for summing up my thoughts, @defyingdepravity:disqus 🙂
I’m just stating the truth, no need to thank me. 🙂
My grandma makes THE BEST pickles…
So does mine 🙂
This goes out to all my “pickle homies”… grab a spicy pickle and stick a peppermint stick down the middle… Be still my beating heart AMAZING! Go try it like NOW! 😉
Bahaha…what did I just read?? Lol! Hmmm, maybe I need to give it a try =D.
Great illustration! Thanks for sharing! Pickles are awesome and french toast is delicious. 🙂
I did like your illustration, despite my comments below. 🙂
That’s a great example! 🙂 Thanks!
picking up the Food sense of humor
Christopher, thank you. This is SO important. God has really been working in my life in this area, so what you said just reinforced it! Thanks! 🙂
Awesome! Praise God!
As with many others, I find that God places the right materials in front of me exactly at the time I needed them. Thank you Christopher for this terrific article!
God is pretty cool that way!
I know, right!! Wow!
You got that right 😉
Wow, thanks Christopher. It keeps happening that what the articles or DQs are about are exactly what I have been struggling with. I like how you said at the end to ask Jesus to take the thoughts away. I’ve found that when trying to get rid of bad thoughts by myself, I usually fail. Turning to Jesus and giving it over to Him is soooo much easier and it really works too! A lot better then trying to do it on my own strength. Thank you for the encouragement!
Yes, I often pray “God, please take this out of mind.”
It’s as simple as that, and God does clear our minds. If we don’t want to think it, and God doesn’t want us to think it, why wouldn’t he take it away? “In the world, but not of the world…”
Thank you so, so much for this article, Christopher! I so often have thoughts that I’ve just grown used to thinking and I don’t even stop to realize that they’re lies. Thank you, I need to put this into practice.
This is very uplifting as well as convicting. Keeping clean thoughts is every Christian’s biggest struggle. Like it was put in Facing the Giants: “Actions will always follow your beliefs.” If we are thinking a certain way will will act upon that. Good or bad.
I liked the example comparing pebbles and treasure. Real food and junk food.
Thank you for your honesty and encouraging words to lead us toward a pure heart, soul, and mind…that mirrors Jesus.
Praise God! I’m glad you were blessed!
Wow! Thanks so much! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who deals with this kind of thing, and thanks for the tips!
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Thank you so much Christopher!
Wow, very very good post! It’s always a struggle to keep the lies of the devil out. Thank you so much for the encouragement!
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
I like that Martin Luther quote above. You cannot control your feelings, be it sexual temptation, fear, pride, etc., just as you cannot control what pops into your head. You can, however, control how you REACT to thoughts/feelings. I’ve been thru this…Satan will try to make you feel guilty for what HE is putting in YOUR head. It’s not your fault, and it’s not sin, as long as you resist it and chase it away in God’s strength. I think every Christian struggles this way. But again, it’s temptation:i t’s not sin as long as you resist.
Again: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Yes! In Jesus, we have authority and victory!
I think it is good to remember, too, the first part of the verse you quoted: “Submit to God. Resist the Devil, and He will flee from you.”
We have no authority over satan until we have submitted ourselves to God.
Yes! as Christians, we need to remember not to “crop” bible verses…
Right on, Christopher!
Yikes! This is something I’ve struggled with for a while, I really needed to see this. I am going to use all these tips.
Yes, you have just been used to confirm and to encourage a brother in his faith and practice. Thank you, Christopher…keep writing and do it all for the glory of Christ Jesus!
Awesome! Praise God!!
This is a great article! You have definitely given me food for thought. Thank you!
Plus I “Amen” everything Benjamin just said. 🙂
Oh my goodness . . . . I have a hard time keeping my mind clean, and even my words sometimes. I wonder if there are a lot of other teens who have this problem.
Oh you have no idea…we do. It kinda seems to be a “taboo” subject in Christian circles. Why is that? If you admit to having impure thoughts, you’ll probably get funny looks and then judgmental, edgy stares. (And thanks, Christopher, for being willing to broach the subject.)
Yes! Even with your family, admitting to struggling with sin or having impure thoughts is so frowned upon. Talking about it openly is skirted like it’s a plague infested corpse. But truthfully, I feel maybe Satan has a hand in this. Rather than letting us glory in the freedom God’s granted, he would have us hide under bushes, holding all imperfections for ransom, in the darkness, unwilling to confess our former enslavement and God’s great and might hand of deliverance!
Ok, Lol. Sorry, I was going totally poetic there. But it is true. Ephesians 5:8, 12-13 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
Our darkness is no longer darkness. Our shame has turned to rejoicing because of the gift of freedom. Let’s not hide it. Let’s give glory to God. Let’s tell the stories, and see the chains others wear be broken.
Yes! It’s so hard to stay away from my own thoughts. I try to avoid bad stuff, but I’m public-schooled and can’t get out of it. Inappropriate comments swirl everywhere. When I know I shouldn’t think about whatever it is, it only makes it harder to not think about.
That is really rough. When you’re surrounded by it all day, it’s hard not to absorb it and become like it. If you scroll down a little, Josh A. had a really good illustration about what you said, “When I know I shouldn’t think about whatever it is, it only makes it harder to not think about.” Check it out.
Be encouraged, Amaris, I think most teens can identify with you! Don’t give up, press on!
All of ya’ll are so encouraging, I don’t know why I haven’t read more of these posts.
Great article! Thank you, Christopher. My pastor said just yesterday “the best defense is a good offense.”
It isn’t Satin or your friend’s fault that you have bad thoughts in your head. It is you fault that they are still there.
“You are not helpless! God has given you the freedom and ability to choose what you do and think.” I needed to hear this today. I am seriously thinking about writing it down and putting it somewhere I can constantly see it. God has given and done far more for me than I will ever deserve, so it is only fitting that I let Him take over my thoughts. The hard part is finding ways to go about it, and you gave so many good suggestions about that! Thank you yet again, Christopher, for encouraging the rest of us.
I know it’s funny How God does that but it’s also amazing 🙂
Yes, the name of Jesus is powerful!
I’m not familiar with the song, but it looks good! Thanks for sharing!
Hey Christopher! I’ve been looking through the archives, and I wanted to say – keep up the good work! I really like your articles 🙂 Keep up the good work!!
I haven’t seen you around much – how are you doing?
Every time a negative thought starts bubbling up
I think of well… Clouds
Strange don’t you think, but at least it helps. 🙂
Clouds are free, light and pure pure white
Wow, ill try it !
It’s funny you say that, because I think I do the same thing. Not consciously, but it seems like when I push bad thoughts out of my head, especially if it’s at night and I’m trying to fall asleep, they’re automatically replaced with clouds. I pray…and imagine clouds 🙂
Not so strange ” the heavens display the glory of god”!
my teacher says garbage in garbage out
My mom says that as well. It is so true. 🙂
Spot on. I needed that post. Thank you.
Great post! I’ll keep your advice in “mind” next time ugly thoughts fly my way!
Very encouraging and helpful post? Thank you! It reminds me of a quote that says something like “Don’t listen to yourself. Preach to yourself.”
You nailed it son!
You’re Christopher’s dad? You should be very proud of your son! I don’t think he has written a single article that did not impact me strongly.
Thanks, this is terrific stuff. I just love the birds analogy – it’s so true! 🐤
I just was thinking about my favorite posts on the Rebelution and this one hit my top five!
Thanks, man! I’m honored!
Just what I need! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Awesome! Praise God! =)
There’s no “like” option so I don’t know if that’ll work or not