2 Corinthians 10:5
ESV - 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
In my view, evil thoughts that enter our minds are a work of the devil and are not by themselves sin, but are a form of temptation. They become sin when we entertain them or dwell on them (even if we do not act on them). I would say that only God would be capable of judging exactly when that "line" is crossed, but He could certainly do so, since He is totally omniscient. The difficulty of thought control, however, is also not to say that Christians are excused from making the effort to do so, or that they are not capable (with the help of the Holy Spirit, and as referenced in the passage cited in the question) of taking their thoughts captive to an ever-increasing degree. In my opinion, they are accountable to God for the extent to which they fail to exercise (or seek to exercise) such control, in order to approach ever nearer to perfection in that regard. In addition, they should also seek God's forgiveness for Christ's sake whenever they knowingly or consciously fail to do so.
The Bible treats all sin as sin, nothing more, nothing less. It says if you commit one sin, you are guilty of all sins. God knows this and He gave us free will to have the ability to choose to do what He wants us to do, or not. What one person thinks is very difficult to avoid, others don't seem to have such an issue avoiding. So, every person is different, and what you consider to be very difficult to avoid may just be a weak area in your life that can be improved with the proper help. The Bible states very clearly that we are never tempted beyond what we can overcome with the help of the Holy Spirit. So while it may seem very difficult to avoid certain sins, it is not impossible with God's help. We are to try to emulate Christ and avoid all sin. We will not be very successful with this since we are so frail as humans. The Bible is very clear that all sin but absolute refusal to accept the message of the Gospel is sin that can be forgiven. One is no harder for God to forgive than others, since the price has already been paid, as Christ was a sacrifice once for all for all sin and for all people. The primary message of the New Testament is that of grace from God toward us and from us toward others. Grace is supreme in the New Covenant. As you struggle with certain issues, just remember in the end that Christ died for all sin, no matter how easy or difficult it seems to avoid. But in the end, for Christians, those that have accepted the message of the Gospel, forgiveness is freely given. When we become Christians, we are forgiven of all sins, we are created afresh and start with a clean slate. We are given the righteousness of Christ, so that we are seen as Holy and clean, as Christ is. We are adopted by God and become his children, to whom He loves to give good gifts. We should attempt to avoid sin with the help of the Holy Spirit. But the sins we do commit, "God will be faithful and just to forgive all our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Help can be obtained from God and from other Christians. We can lean on others to help with problem areas in our lives. Be sure that you are plugged in to the local church and have contacts there that can help you with problems that you have. Pray for God to help you with problem areas in your life. Remember that the Holy Spirit is active in your life as He has convicted you of sin. He will also help you to avoid that sin in the future. A recent song named, "Lift Up Your Head" (You can search it on You Tube, "Lift Up Your Head live at Harbor") states it very succinctly when it says, "Lift up your head, oh saints. Lift up a mighty praise. Our God is strong to save. His love will make a way." It doesn't get any better than that. So be encouraged and lift up your head.
When Christ became our substitute and perfect sacrifice as the second Adam God poured out all of his judgment on Christ instead of us. When God sees us now, he sees us through the blood of Christ that cleansed us and presents us perfect and without spot or wrinkle. Christ is our advocate interceding constantly on our behalf, and if you study the high priest's garments and headgear in the old testament, each garment and adornment stands for intercession on our behalf. Christ is our high priest in heaven, he is seated because his work of redemption on our behalf is finished. We cannot add to his work or take anything away either we are as 2 cor 5.21 says - we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
God is aware of our weaknesses, and tells us that we are broken creatures that don't come close to His standard of perfection, but at the same time accepts us just as we are into His kingdom, if we choose not to go our own ways and accept His way. Temptations are the thoughts that enter our minds to do sinful things, but the thoughts are not sin, if we don't dwell on them. He graciously gives us the way to get out of that path with this instruction: "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. (Phil 4:8)"
The bible says that we are enticed by "our own evil desires". We have to know how to distinguish demonic attacks from our own desires that stem from fallen and corrupt flesh. The bible tells us that we war within ourselves, against ourselves. Satan can only influence, not control. A lot of the issues we deal with are a result of the evil desires that still dwell in us. Just because you're saved, doesn't mean you still won't have sinful thoughts or desires. In fact, sometimes they seem to increase because now you've been reborn and you see things with eyes and a new understanding. We as followers of Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, and a made up mind must learn to conquer our base desires, which are naturally against God. It's a process that may take a lifetime to conquer for some, but it can be done because, as the bible says, all things are possible with God, even controlling our thoughts. The bible says that we are to cast down imaginations and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Intrusive thoughts can be cast down, wild imaginations can be cast down, and your mind and thought process CAN be controlled. One of the things I've found helpful is to give my mind to God. When I pray in the morning I always try to remember to surrender my mind to God. To surrender my thoughts, imaginations, my conscious and even sub-conscious mind to Him. On the days that I pray that prayer, I find myself more at peace in my mind, like a large lake of still water. A few hours will go by and then it will just come to me like BOOM, that mind is at peace, no intrusive thoughts or wild imaginations running rampant in my mind. On the days that I don't pray that prayer, I find my mind troubled or full of thoughts (most of which are ungodly). So, like the bible says, I TRAIN myself like a runner preparing for a race. I control my thoughts (after all, they are MINE to control) so they can be controlled and cast down. It's really an amazing thing to see it working in your life, to have a peaceful mind, then all of a sudden an intrusive thought will try to bombard my mind and you can see it as clear as day. When that happens I am quick to recite scripture or to simply say to that thought in my mind, "Oh no you don't, your're not of God. I cast that out in Jesus name." And just like that, my mind is back at peace. Your thought process is just like any other muscle in your body: if you exercise it, it WILL get stronger. You're not a slave to your thoughts (or at least you shouldn't be), especially if those thoughts are ungoldy. "Be ye SELF CONTROLLED and alert," says the Lord, and he means that in body mind soul and speech. The bible tells us that we should put our thoughts on things that are holy, that are good, that are noble and it may take time to master that, but it can be done.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.