Nicki, over at her Godblog, posted a great blog post about fear. I actually started this post last night before I read hers but I think they tie in together very well.
I've been more aware of my thoughts lately. Mostly, they're about Father and his love and grace, family and friends, work, different things I plan to do and, of course, blogging. Nothing unusual. Just the same ordinary thoughts that everyone has.
Occasionally, however, a thought will pass through my mind that shouldn't be there, something a follower of Christ shouldn't be thinking about. In the past, I would always feel guilt and shame and wonder how I could even think something like that. Since, I learned about the origin of thoughts, my reaction is now totally different. I've been working my way through Steve McVey's interactive study guide, "The Grace Walk Experience" and in it he explains the origin of thoughts.
He says, "Not every thought you have is your own. It is essential that you know this. Thoughts can be introduced to your mind that don't come from you. They don't belong to you."
He also explained that because I'm holy and have a holy nature, the nature of Jesus, unholy thoughts don't originate from me. "Holy people do not generate unholy thoughts." The enemy injects unholy thoughts into our minds and make them sound like our thoughts.
Steve also said that we have fallen into error by believing that there are three kinds of thoughts: holy thoughts, unholy thoughts and just regular thoughts. But that's not true. "When you're abiding in Christ, every thought you have is a holy thought. But not every thought that comes to you is your own. So when the power of indwelling sin introduces a thought, you take that thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ."
Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, 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."
Understanding that not every thought is mine has been a path to freedom. Unholy thoughts may pass through my mind but I can refuse to think about them and instead take them captive. I've discovered I'm not responsible for every thought that passes through my mind but I am responsible for what I think about. Thinking is an action word. It's something that I do. It's a choice that I can make. Sometimes, re-focusing my thoughts will not be easy. However, I'm learning to allow his life to flow through my mind and enable me to do what I would never be able to do in my own strength.
From time to time, I still have unholy thoughts but now I recognize that it's because of indwelling sin that is still in my body. Now, instead of reacting with guilt and shame, I think "That's not me!" and I immediately focus my thoughts on Father's love and grace.
I'm holy and righteous and the old me has been crucified with Christ. I've now been raised with him to enjoy a new life. He's given me his life and, as I'm learning to to live in union with him, I'm experiencing victory over unholy thoughts.