The title could also be: “How To Stop Unwanted Thoughts” or “How To End Unwanted Thoughts” or “How To Suppress Unwanted Thoughts”..
“Don’t Think About A Pink Elephant!”
Have you ever played that silly game? Someone says, “Don’t think about a pink elephant”. And what happens? No matter how hard you try, you just cannot stop thinking about pink elephants!
Clearly, then, trying harder doesn’t work. You probably already knew that, right?
Actually, that “try-harder” thing is one of Satan’s favorite schemes to make us dance to his tune. It goes something like this:
- Try harder…
- Get it right…
- Do it better…
- Be perfect…
- Start over.
- Try harder…
- Get it right…
- … and so forth until you wear yourself out and give up.
The devil loves this! He knows that eventually you will fail. You will plunge into despair, doubt, fear, etc., as the unwanted thoughts resume their parade through the “video and audio” pathways of your mind. The unwanted thoughts bind you, and you become their prisoner once again.
None of that has to happen!
A Reader Comment
Here is an actual comment from someone who read this article:
My Goal: To Show You Four Things:
- Here’s What Works: The permanent solution: replace unwanted thoughts with God’s thoughts.
- What God Promises: What His Word says you can do about unwanted thoughts.
- Why And How: Why and how are these unwanted thoughts tormenting you?
- How To Get Relief: How YOU CAN take hold of the relief God has promised!
#1) Here’s What Works
This true anecdote illustrates the concept: replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
Here’s what I said to him next:
“You need a permanent solution. You need to have an arsenal of thoughts that you can instantly call to mind, thoughts that are so powerful they will easily and continually push out all the unwanted thoughts. This is the supernatural solution to your supernatural problem!”
Good News: Such a solution exists. God has it, and He offers it to you.
#1) What God Promises
Key Scripture Passage:
4 for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
By using the power God put into His Word, you can take unwanted thoughts captive, rather than having the unwanted thoughts taking you captive!
That’s what God inspired Paul to write to us about taking unwanted thoughts captive.
By the way, if you’re skeptical about God’s Word having power built into it, here are two Scriptures for you: Romans 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 1:18
Our weapon against the devil is the Word of God.
When you choose to partner with God and begin to arm yourself against the devil by internalizing (memorizing) even just a few Bible verses, He extends His Divine “protective shield” around you.
The Holy Spirit becomes the gatekeeper of your mind!
That is what God has promised to those who choose to partner with Him.
#3) Why And How:
Here is the main thing you need to know about unwanted thoughts:
Unwanted thoughts are almost always from the devil.
Unwanted thoughts that have come into your mind such as:
- Unwanted thoughts of Lust
- Negative emotions: (anger, rage, revenge, etc.)
- Unwanted thoughts of despair: (worry, doubt, panic, fear, etc.)
- Unwanted thoughts that have you putting yourself down: (“I’m such a looser”; “nobody cares about me”; “I can’t do anything right” etc.)
Those unwanted thoughts and many others are all very likely put into your mind by a demon.
Why Does God Allow This?
Here’s why: it’s because we have a free will. God did not intend to create robotic worshipers that are hard-wired to say what He wants to hear. He wants genuine worshipers.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. (John 4:23)
Our free will includes the freedom to reject Him.
How Is The Devil Able To Get Permission To Torment Us?
Here’s an excerpt from chapters 1 & 2 of the Book of Job that illustrates how Satan is able somehow to get permission from God.
In spite of all that, it is possible to be free from unwanted thoughts.
#4) How To Get Relief:
Here’s how: by partnering with God and thus apply the power of His Word.
Here are a couple of clues. This is all about what comes into your mind:
…For as he thinks in his heart, so is he… (Proverbs 23:7a AMP)
I’ll say it again: this is all about what comes into your mind. That’s the battleground. God would love for you to partner with Him so that He can help rid your mind of unwanted thoughts.
…be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2b)
The process in not by “trying harder” to stop unwanted thoughts. Instead, challenge the source of the unwanted thoughts by filtering them through the “grid” of the Word of God.
Is it a thought that would draw you nearer to God? Or is it instead a thought from the pit of hell. When you know you are “hearing” unwanted thoughts from the devil, you can remove them — or rather, allow God to remove them — using the power of His Word.
To best see how Satan interacts with God to get permission to torment us, read this excerpt from chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Job.
The weapons of our warfare are described in Ephesians 6:10-20. As you can see, Paul says nothing about “trying harder”. Rather, it alludes to using principles of the Word of God.
You Have A Part In The Solution
Jesus Himself demonstrated for us how to do the part that He wants you (and me and all of His followers) to do. After fasting for forty days, Satan tried to tempt Jesus. But each time, Jesus deflected the temptation by quoting from Scripture. You can read the details of this encounter here: Matthew 4:1-12:
Satan and his demons tempt us by putting thoughts into our minds. Their purpose is to trick us into doing things that lead us away from God and ultimately to hell.
But it doesn’t have to happen that way. With God’s help, you can live free from the torment of unwanted thoughts that don’t belong in your mind.
BUT… you can’t stop these unwanted thoughts by your own strength for very long. You need help from God. And He has promised to help you as a Christian believer.
Let’s re-state the key Scripture passage:
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4~5}
The key passage should give you great hope.
- First of all, we know that God inspired the apostle Paul to write that passage. That means God wanted you to know this.
- Second: because it’s in the Bible, it’s possible! You CAN keep unwanted thoughts out… IF you are a Bible believing Christian.
- Third: it shows us that we need God’s help to banish unwanted thoughts permanently!
Satan and his demons come to us uninvited. God allows that because of he has given us a free will. We must choose to believe in Him and follow Him. That’s why He didn’t make programmed robots that speak programmed words.
But because we have a free will, we have to ask God for His help.
There is a part that you must do when you partner with God. When you do your part, God will do the part that only He can do.
Here are some things I have learned about controlling the thoughts that go into my mind. It’s all biblical and very effective. I write them with the desire that they would be spread widely around and used by Christian believers everywhere. We need Him. This is so serious!
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
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Here’s What To Do
Start by choosing to believe God.
Trust Him that He will never ask you to do something that you cannot do. He will always make available to you the resources to accomplish what He has commanded. But he won’t do the part that you can do.
Ultimately, He wants your permission to allow Him to accomplish His work here on this earth through you. Don’t hold back any longer. Give yourself to Him… and He’ll do things through you that you cannot imagine.
I urge you to read, study, and begin to learn and apply the thoughts and Scriptures written here. Ask God to help you apply them into your life. If you’ll do that, I can assure you on the authority of the Word of God, He will set you free from the torment of thoughts you know should not be in your mind.
It all comes down to knowing His Word. Jesus said:
If you remain in My Word, you will truly be My disciples; and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
God is asking you to take a step of faith, first by reading this post, then by choosing to believe it and act as would a person who truly believed these things could become a reality in their life. It may seem impossible to you, but that’s where faith begins, right? If you could see all the dots connected, it wouldn’t be faith. I believe God deliberately sets things up that way. He wants you to surrender to Him. It’s time to do that. Read this, then… DO IT!
Summary: Seven Things To Consider:
1 GOOD NEWS: It truly is possible to live free from thoughts you do not want to have in your mind! You CAN be successful! You CAN!!
This includes lustful thoughts (which, if not captured and banished quickly, will soon lead to lustful actions.)
Especially for us men, it’s critically important that we take hold of this. God’s Word commands us to come up to a higher level of holiness. At the gym where I work out, there are sometimes young, attractive women dressed very provocatively. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have whispered the following Scripture to myself:
I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1)
And is there anywhere a man who has not done what Jesus is speaking of in the next verse?
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
But here’s the “Good News” part:
God never commands us to do something without giving us the means to do it.
However, we have to do it His way. As is often true, there is a part that we have to do before God will do the part only He can do. It’s that last part — where God helps us AFTER we’ve done our part — that we need.
Which brings us to the next point:
BUT: You cannot do it on your own by “trying harder”.
That “try-harder” thing is a main component of Satan’s “gospel”. It doesn’t work for very long; eventually, it always fails. Then Satan uses your failure to condemn you; to make you feel like a loser. You try again, and the cycle repeats. You become discouraged and you ultimately quit. Very bad plan!
This may appear to contradict item 1, but it really doesn’t. It just means you can’t be victorious on your own. You need supernatural help. SO…
REALLY GOOD NEWS: God longs to partner with you to help you live a life of victory.
Because you have a free will, God will not force His help upon you. You have to ask Him.
In order to partner with you, God requires your obedience. It does no good to try to shut the devil out in one area of your life, while simultaneously opening doors for him in other areas.
BUT… you must submit to God’s authority in ALL areas of life.
James wrote, “Submit yourselves therefore to God; resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
You have to put first things first: submit to God first, then with the power of His Spirit, you can easily resist the devil.
God Wants Our Obedience
I made a list of areas in which I want to be obedient to God. This is probably not a comprehensive list, and I am definitely not doing them perfectly:
attitude; anger; blaming; complaining; compromise; contentment; covetousness; defiance; discipline; dress - what we wear; entertainment choices; envy; food choices; excuses - making excuses vs. taking ownership; haughty vs. a humble heart; love; parenting; patience; physical fitness; pride; procrastination; rebellion; resentment; relationship based on performance vs. acceptance; repentance; revenge; Scripture memory; selfishness; stewardship (financial, time, talent etc.); stubbornness; ungodly or lustful thoughts and actions; unbelief - refusing to trust God; unforgiveness;
God does not expect perfection
What He is really watching for is steady progress in the right direction. He wants us to voluntarily come under His authority. In other words, He wants us to submit ourselves to God
MORE GOOD NEWS — (which doesn’t look like good news at first): there isn’t a “quick-fix” for this. It’s going to take time. You have to do the part that you can do before God will do the part only He can do.
This is spiritual warfare, and you have to learn some things first. You need to equip yourself with Bible principles. As you do so, you must make up your mind — set your mind — to choose to respond by using those “weapons” throughout every day.
Here’s where many Christians lose the battle. They haven’t adequately equipped themselves with “The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
Simply Stated, Here’s The “How-To”:
This is what works: fill your mind so full of God’s thoughts (that’s what Bible verses are) that the devil cannot get a word in edgewise!
When you “submit to God “ (James 4:7) and “renew your mind” (Romans 12:2), be prepared to be astonished! God will “manifest Himself to you” (John 14:21).
As you systematically feed on the Word of God (see Matthew 4:4), you will come alive spiritually. The power of God will begin to operate in you, because the Word of God IS God!! (see John 1:1).
Acts 1:8 says, “You will receive power“, which the Bible defines as “…more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit to meet this evil tendency…) (James 4:6 AMP). Then you’ll be able to “Take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The Holy Spirit becomes the gatekeeper of your mind!
START SMALL if you must — but START!!
If you’ve done little or no Scripture learning, start out with one or two short verses written on recipe cards; read them as little as once a day; takes just a minute or two. It may take days or even weeks. Let it take time. Eventually, you will be able to recite them by heart.
A couple of supporting Scriptures for you: Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Deuteronomy 6:6 says, “These words which, I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart…”
Anyone who can read can do this. If you find yourself thinking you don’t have time for that, it’s time to review your priorities.
According to 2 Timothy 1:7, God has given you “…a sound mind”. Indeed, 1 Corinthians 2:16 says you have “… the mind of Christ”. If you can remember your name, your address, your phone number, your Social Security number, the names and birthdays of your family members, etc., you can do this. If you’re not doing this or something like this to learn Scripture, at least be honest before God and admit, “I WON’T!!”
When the devil is messing with your mind, fight back with these verses:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2)
The above verse refers to how God is always with you, especially during difficult times. The metaphors of “water” and “fire” refer to our trials in life.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
In the above verse, “He who is in you” of course refers to God. “He who is in the world” refers to the devil. The idea is: God is more powerful than all the demons combined.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)
7THERE IS NO NEUTRAL GROUND HERE!
Jesus said, Whoever is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23)
The whole Kingdom of Heaven and the whole kingdom of hell are watching to see which choice you make.
God has given each of us a multiple-choice test.
But look: He’s also given us the correct answer! I’ve underlined it:
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
You have a free will; you have a SOUND MIND!! But you have to make the decision.
Make it a good one!!