“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Proverbs 4:23 NCV).
Every temptation starts in the mind. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (NCV). The battle for sexual purity is won or lost in your mind.
Any time you see people really messing up their lives, you can bet their problems didn’t start with their actions, because their actions began with their thoughts. They lingered on dumb thoughts before making dumb decisions. The Bible says this very clearly — and science backs it up: The way you think determines how you feel. Feelings motivate actions. To change your life, you don’t just work on a bad habit, the action. Instead, you work on what caused it — the thoughts that caused the feelings that caused the action. God says your thoughts control your life.
This explains how affairs happen.
First, you begin by accepting sinful thoughts into your mind. “What would it be like to have sex with that person? Is it so wrong?” You start having doubts, and you start fantasizing in your mind. You begin to think it’s harmless.
But it’s not. Your thoughts produce feelings. And feelings inevitably lead to actions.
You then move into emotional, non-physical involvement. That’s when you start flirting. You start making gestures and comments, subtly or not-so-subtly saying, “I’m available.” Next comes the physical involvement. And finally, you rationalize your actions: “Everybody is doing it. It’s no big deal. We’re both adults.”
Your sinful actions started when you accepted sinful thoughts into your mind.
The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 2:22 how to manage our thoughts before they ever head down this path: “Turn your back on the turbulent desires of youth and give your positive attention to goodness, faith, love and peace” (Phillips).
The Bible tells us to turn away from lustful thoughts and turn instead toward something positive. That two-step process is how you break a temptation before it ever gets started. You’re thinking wrong long before you’re acting wrong. You stop the cycle by turning your back on those sinful thoughts and turning toward goodness, integrity, love, and peace.
You’re not an innocent bystander to sexual sin. You have a choice.
I WANT YOU TO BE ALL MINE , filled with the Light of My Presence. I gave everything for you by living as a man, then dying for your sins and living again. Hold back nothing from Me. Bring your most secret thoughts into the Light of My Love. Anything you bring to Me I transform and cleanse from darkness. I know everything about you, far more than you know of yourself. But I restrain My yearning to “fix” you, waiting instead for you to come to Me for help. Imagine the divine restraint this requires, for I have all Power in heaven and on earth. Seek My Face with a teachable spirit. Come into My Presence with thanksgiving, desiring to be transformed.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
MATTHEW 28 : 18
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
PSALM 100 : 4
Your Personality Reveals Purpose
A way to determine how you can serve others is to ask yourself such questions as: What do I really enjoy doing most? When do I feel the most fully alive? What am I doing when I lose track of time? Do I like routine or variety? Do I prefer serving with a team or by myself? Am I more introverted or extroverted? Am I more a thinker or a feeler? Which do I enjoy more – competing or cooperating?
Examine your experiences and extract the lessons you’ve learned. Review your life and think about how it has shaped you.
Forgotten experiences are worthless; that’s a good reason to keep a spiritual journal. Paul worried that the believers in Galatia would waste the pain they had been through. He said, “Were all your experiences wasted? I hope not!” (Galatians 3:4 NCV)
We rarely see God’s good purpose in pain or failure or embarrassment while it is happening. Only in hindsight do we understand how God intended a problem for good.
Extracting the lessons from your experiences takes time. I recommend that you take an entire weekend for a life review retreat, where you pause to see how God has worked in the various defining moments of your life and consider how he wants to use those lessons to help others.
This will give you very clear direction on the ways he wants you to minister to others.