Every action begins with a thought. In fact, Jesus said that a person's thoughts determine who that person is - they're that powerful. Thoughts have enormous potential for either good or evil in your life. But if you don't proactively renew your mind, your thoughts will default to a pattern set by our fallen world. That's why so many people struggle with their thought lives, confronting unhealthy thoughts such as worry, hatred, or fantasies about pursuits that will only bring them harm. Don't let your thoughts control you. Bring them under Christ's control to experience the freedom He wants you to have.

Here are some ways you can purify your thoughts:



  • Pay attention to your thoughts. Notice how you think in different situations, and try keeping a record of your thoughts for a while so you can go back to it and study it later to better understand what goes through your mind. Pay special attention to how physical or emotional stress affects your thoughts, and be aware that you're especially vulnerable during times when you're hungry, tired, or upset about something.


  • Consider what you're allowing to come into your mind through your senses. What are you reading, listening to, or looking at? Does it honor God? If not, why are you drawn to it, and how can you take your underlying needs to God rather than turning to another source to try to meet them? Ask God to help you choose better words, sounds, and images to feed your mind. Avoid going to places that fuel unhealthy thoughts for you, and stop meeting with people who entice you to think in unhealthy ways. Instead, go to places that help you focus on healthy thoughts and start relationships with people who think positively.


  • Recognize that your mind is a spiritual battleground. Although evil forces want to bombard your mind with negative thoughts, the Holy Spirit offers you greater power to think positively. Understand that there's much at stake in this battle: the way you think will influence all your actions, shape who you are as a person, and influence your eternal destiny.


  • Read the Bible often, and meditate on what it says. Get to know God's character and how He wants you to live. Ask God to help you absorb the truths in His Word so they begin to transform you.


  • When you confront a negative thought, pray about it. Don't expect that your thoughts will improve without the Holy Spirit's renewing power. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you not just get rid of negative thoughts, but also to fill your mind with positive thoughts that God wants you to ponder.


  • Ask God to show you issues in your life that are blocking intimacy with Him, then face those issues and deal with them. Confess your sins to God on a regular basis, then decide to turn away from them and make a fresh start in a better direction, relying on God's grace. Remember that there is always hope - God can help you change even if you've been struggling with the same issues for a long time.


  • Ask a trusted friend who has a mature relationship with Christ to help you be accountable in your thought life. Meet with this person regularly, perhaps once a week, to candidly discuss your thoughts and pray together to keep growing.


  • Be patient and thorough as you deal with negative thoughts, taking each one captive and making it obedient to Christ. Monitor your thoughts and continually ask yourself if they align with God's truths expressed in the Bible. Realize that this is an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.


  • Study Christ's life to discover how He thought. Think about how His thoughts of love, peace, forgiveness, compassion, joy, obedience, faith, and commitment influenced His actions.

Adapted from Taming Your Private Thoughts: You Can Stop Sin Where It Starts, copyright 2002 by Jay Dennis and Marilyn Jeffcoat. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.zondervan.com, 1-800-727-3480.

Jay Dennis is senior pastor of the growing Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fl., and president of the Florida Baptist Convention of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a daily radio and weekly television program. Marilyn Jeffcoat is dean of women at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Fl. She is a graduate of Columbia College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and is a doctoral student at Trinity Theological Seminary. She and her husband are parents of a son.

Do you struggle with your thought life? What types of thoughts prove challenging for you to deal with, and why? How has God helped you renew your mind? When your thoughts are under Christ's control, how do they help you live a better life? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.