When Satan comes against your mind with wrong thoughts, you don’t have to concede defeat. Use these practical actions to confront loose thoughts by securing them with the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14).

Action 1: Refuse to feel guilty for wrong thoughts

Imagine you are awakened at 3 a.m. by someone pounding on your front door. More than likely, before you open the door, you’ll look through the peephole to see who is causing the commotion. If it were a neighbor, a friend, or a family member, you would probably open the door and invite him in. However, if it were a stranger wearing a ski mask and carrying a pistol, you would hopefully refuse them entry.

If you were certain the person seeking entry into your home intended to harm you, would you feel guilty over his wanting to assault you? Would you lament to yourself, What is wrong with me that would cause this person to want to hurt me? No, you would call the police immediately to apprehend the would-be assailant.

We are not always responsible for the harmful thoughts that come knocking on the doors of our minds. Although allowing outside stimuli such as certain TV programs, reading material, or internet sites to fill our minds can incite thoughts of immorality or greed, we are not always to blame for the first assault of these ideas. If you were stranded on a deserted island, you would still battle against wrong thoughts.

How do I know that? Consider Jesus’ experience in the wilderness immediately following His baptism. For 40 days Christ was completely isolated. No other people, no newspapers, no e-mail. Yet during those 40 days, Jesus was tempted with thoughts of discontent, greed, and pride.

“Since God hasn’t provided you with what you need to survive, turn these stones into bread.”

“You don’t need to wait to reign over the kingdoms of the world; they can be yours now if you are willing to worship me.”

“You don’t need to follow God’s timetable. Demonstrate you are the Messiah now! Put on a spiritual circus to demonstrate you are the Son of God.”

 

Where did these thoughts originate? “The devil said to Him” (Luke 4:3) — nowhere in the biblical account of Jesus’ temptation does Luke record that the devil appeared to Jesus. Possibly, Satan spoke to the Lord the same way he often communicates with us: through the mind.

Yet did these ungodly thoughts make Jesus a sinner? Of course not! He remained the perfect Lamb of God whose blamelessness qualified Him to be our Savior. If you and I are going to win the mind games, we need to first stop feeling guilty when evil thoughts invade our lives and, instead, learn how to deal with those unwelcome intrusions.

Action 2: Refuse to allow wrong thoughts to linger

If we entertain and embellish wrong thoughts for any period of time, those ideas have a way of transforming into obsessions. These, in turn, result in overt actions or attitudes of disobedience. Pastor and author Charles Stanley vividly demonstrates:

“The initial thoughts the devil sends to us may be just a toehold the first time we entertain those thoughts and dwell on them or fantasize about them. The longer we entertain the thoughts, however, the more likely we are to start making mental plans about how we might act on them.

“It is then the toehold of an idea becomes a foothold. The more we develop plans for acting on a sinful idea or temptation, the more we find that the foothold has become a stronghold. We come to the place where we feel compelled to try out the idea in our behavior. We come to the place where we want to act on that idea more than we want to banish the idea.”