Romans 13:14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
I don’t know the turn of phrase in the Greek, but the Japanese says, “Don’t use your heart for the sake of the appetites of the flesh.” Thinking about it, that’s exactly what the devil tries to get us to do. That’s what pornography is all about, and actually a majority of advertising of all sorts. The devil wants us to concentrate on our physical appetites, when Jesus told us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) If we “put on Christ,” as Paul says here, that is what we will do. In Philippians Paul gives us some specific advice on how to do this: “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.” (Philippians 4:8) In other words, that’s what we’re to “use our heart (mind) for.” The particular context in Philippians is in avoiding things like depression, but it applies to avoiding a wide variety of the devil’s traps. Modern translations put it completely differently, but there is real truth in the KJV of Proverbs 23:7. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Jesus pointed out that sin starts in our thoughts. (Matthew 5:28) Putting on Christ is putting on the whole armor of God, that Paul talks about so memorably in Ephesians 6. If we are going to resist the devil effectively, the first step in submitting to God is in our thought life. (James 4:7)
I’ve certainly experienced this, as we all have. I’ve discovered that continuing to think about a sin I’ve already repented of makes me far more likely to commit that same sin again. I’ve also found that “putting on” Christ, focusing on Him, is far and away the best cure for anxiety and emotional distress of all sorts. Going at it from a negative angle is futile. (The classic example is that if you tell people not to think about zebras, they can’t think of anything else.) We need to replace negative, sinful thoughts with thoughts that build us up and draw us closer to God. That brings us back to Philippians 4:8. That one verse, if followed, could virtually empty the psychiatric hospitals of the world. I know it’s not easy; we can’t do it consistently in our own strength. However, if the choice is there, I’ve found the Holy Spirit will help us, (Romans 8:26) and victory is sweet indeed.
Father thank You for this reminder. I deal with people all the time who are tormented by their distorted thinking. Help me be more effective in pointing them to Christ, to help them realize the richness of Your grace toward them, so that they too may rest, relax, and rejoice in You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!