It started off somewhat innocent. I was your typical little girl daydreaming of a young prince riding in on a white horse, rescuing me from my dysfunctional life, proclaiming his love for me in front of all to see (proving me to be worthy of such love), and then riding off into the sunset together to live happily ever after.
At first, I had no idea who the young prince was but, at some point, he started taking on the form of some boy/man I thought was cute and would possibly marry, like Erik Estrada from C.H.I.P.S. or the Fonz from Happy Days. Oiy! I was especially fond of the Fonz because the girls adored him and I thought it would be cool if he loved me above all the others. I would watch him “make out” with these girls and find myself excited over the thought of me being “that girl.”
And so the dangerous daydreams began. I got rid of the white horse and entertained ongoing dreams of being rescued by the Fonz (or whoever), savoring the thought of him falling in love with me, proclaiming to everyone that he loved me and then “making out” with him. Oh! and don’t forget the living happily ever after.
What did happily ever after mean anyway? I wasn’t sure but I was convinced that to be loved like that, it was gonna cost me something…the giving of myself…my body. I didn’t know how to set healthy boundaries. I lived in a time where dysfunction was all around me and having sex was just what you do when you were looking for love.
My fantasy life went on for years and then became disturbingly real when I decided to actually have sex…I then had vivid stuff to daydream about and I did…A LOT. My daydreams were so self-absorbed. In my fantasies, I was always the most beautiful, the most desirable, the most wanted woman alive. Any man would be lucky to have me as his own (oh dear).
I’m laughing at the absurdity of it all as I write this..and then I get really sad because I was just a girl who wanted to be loved. That was what this was all about. My biological dad left when I was 2 years old and my stepfather and mother fought all the time so it felt as if my home life would fall apart at any given moment most days. It finally did when I turned 15 and that is when I decided I needed my young prince as soon as possible so I could get out on my own and get on with the happily ever after part. I had this mentality of “I got this.”
And so my journey began…finding just the right one. My heart was empty and wicked. My pathetic attempts to find love were creating a heavy load of shame and guilt with each relationship that didn’t work out. I would try to make myself feel better but the only way I knew to feel better or to cope was to comfort myself with impure thoughts so I could “feel” loved. Crazy isn’t it?
By the time I became a Christian, my sexual fantasies had become a permanent fixture in my life. They were like my security blanket when I felt distressed. My thoughts had become my escape. In one way, they tortured me but in another, they soothed me. It is interesting to me that I could counsel someone about how to deal with their thought life and believe it with my whole heart but, for me, I was convinced that this was just the way my mind was gonna be until the day I died as a consequence for the way I had handled God’s temple.
I prayed about it. I begged God to take it from me but I never believed He would because I had been too bad. I even confessed my thought life to a good friend, thinking that if I brought it into the light, it would certainly get better. But it didn’t. It got worse…and even worse than that.
I truly had bought into the lie that if I wasn’t acting on my thoughts then I was okay. No harm done. But the thoughts were always there and I was drowning in a pool of shame and guilt. I really didn’t want this anymore but I felt hopeless. I was spiritually crippled because of it. That is a huge reason why I thought that the Word of God was for everyone else but me. I refused to believe that God could even look at someone like me. Every time I would have these thoughts, I would sink deeper into self-condemnation. For years of my life, I was stuck in this destructive habit and was completely robbed of joy.
It is devastating to me at how I could have been so ensnared to believe that God couldn’t help the likes of me. I really believed that I was too far gone. So I accepted this way of life for years as a consequence for my sexual sins. I set about trying to work for God’s approval. I thought that if I had a chance at all, works would do it. I would actually TEACH on the fact that works does not get God’s approval but, somehow, I believed that I was the worst of the worst (pride).
This was only a precious section of my thought life…I have also struggled with bitterness, anger, depression, fear, hopelessness, frustrations, doubts, and just flat out evil thoughts. Don’t judge me. I know you do too. I will talk more about these emotions in later posts but I didn’t want to leave out all those who say they don’t struggle with the temptation of sexual immorality. No matter your struggle, it is dangerous to entertain sinful thoughts. The path to sin begins in your thought life.
Mark 7:21-22 (ESV) 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
If we are going to win this battle in our thoughts, we are going to need God’s help. But the question is, do you want to win this battle or do you cherish your sin? I did at times. Here’s what the Bible says about cherished sin:
Psalm 66:18 (ESV) If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Know this…we need God or else we will be dragged away…
James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The enemy has studied us. He knows us. He can’t read our minds but he knows our weaknesses, what will get to us, what makes us tick, what makes us fall, what hurts us and he shoots those flaming darts at us any chance he gets.
Not every thought you have comes from you. The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone he can devour. The enemy sends flaming darts (thoughts) to our mind in the form of lies or thoughts of rejection or condemnation with the ultimate suggestion of doing evil. We need God! He has provided for us a way to extinguish ALL the flaming darts of the evil one!
Ephesians 6:16 (ESV) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
We must act…in all circumstances TAKE UP the shield of faith.
I read an article recently that talked about evaluating every thought by frisking it at the door of your mind. Philippians 4:8 it!
Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
If your thought does not meet these qualifications, get rid of it! But please don’t stop there…Getting rid of it is not enough…it is too passive. YOU MUST REPLACE IT WITH TRUTH.
I just finished reading my journals dating back to 2006…over and over again, I begged God to take these thoughts from me. It was too passive. I wanted God to do a miracle in me but I was too lazy to join Him in anything. He has given me everything I need for a godly life and He has promised to help me.
I have learned so much in this last year about my thought life and I want to share every morsel of truth that God has taught me. I have cherished my sinful thought life and I have been tormented by it for most of my life and never thought for once that God could heal me. I’ve told you before…I thought I was too far gone.
BUT GOD…He rescued me. I praise Him for His work to open my eyes to the lies I have believed my whole life. I no longer need those thoughts to comfort me because I am a daughter of THE COMFORTER. I no longer see myself as too far gone as MY REDEEMER LIVES. I am grateful. He healed my mind. I’m not kidding. I love His Mercy and Grace. There is plenty left for you. You are not too far gone. Don’t believe that lie! EVER!
I know this is a long blog but, keep reading, it is so worth it. It is my heart’s desire to see people set free from the lie that entertaining sinful thoughts is okay because it doesn’t hurt anyone. It hurts EVERYONE in some way or another. Most importantly, you are sinning against God and that should break your heart. If I can help in anyway, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please keep reading. Here is John Piper’s plan for ruthless, vicious mental warfare…it’s so good…I hope it blesses you…
I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:28-29)
When you are enticed sexually, do you fight with your mind to say no to the image and then mightily labor to fill your mind with counter-images that kill off the seductive image? “If you put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Too many people think they have struggled with temptation when they have prayed for deliverance, and hoped the desire would go away. That is too passive. Yes, God works in us to will and to do his good pleasure! But the effect is that we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12-13). Gouging out your eye may be a metaphor, but it means something very violent. The brain is a “muscle” to be flexed for purity, and in the Christian it is supercharged with the Spirit of Christ.
What this means is that we must not give a sexual image or impulse more than five seconds before we mount a violent counterattack with the mind. I mean that! Five seconds. In the first two seconds we shout, “NO! Get out of my head!” In the next two seconds we cry out: “O God, in the name of Jesus, help me. Save me now. I am yours.”
Good beginning. But then the real battle begins. This is a mind war. The absolute necessity is to get the image and the impulse out of our mind. How? Get a counter-image into the mind. Fight. Push. Strike. Don’t ease up. It must be an image that is so powerful that the other image cannot survive. There are lust-destroying images and thoughts.
For example, have you ever in the first five seconds of temptation, demanded of your mind that it look steadfastly at the crucified form of Jesus Christ? Picture this. You have just seen a peek-a-boo blouse inviting further fantasy. You have five seconds. “No! Get out of my mind! God help me!” Now, immediately, demand of your mind – you can do this by the Spirit (Romans 8:13).
Demand of your mind to fix its gaze on Christ on the cross. Use all your fantasizing power to see his lacerated back. Thirty-nine lashes left little flesh intact. He heaves with his breath up and down against the rough vertical beam of the cross. Each breath puts splinters into the lacerations. The Lord gasps. From time to time he screams out with intolerable pain. He tries to pull away from the wood and the massive spokes through his wrist rip into the nerve endings and he screams again with agony and pushes up with his feet to give some relief to his wrists. But the bones and nerves in his pierced feet crush against each other with anguish and he screams again. There is no relief. His throat is raw from screaming and thirst. He loses his breath and thinks he is suffocating, and suddenly his body involuntarily gasps for air and all the injuries unite in pain. In torment, he forgets about the crown of two-inch thorns and throws his head back in desperation, only to hit one of the thorns perpendicular against the cross beam and drive it half an inch into his skull. His voice reaches a soprano pitch of pain and sobs break over his pain-wracked body as every cry brings more and more pain.
Now, I am not thinking about the blouse any more. I am at Calvary. These two images are not compatible. If you will use the muscle of your brain to pursue – violently pursue with the muscle of your mind – images of Christ crucified with the same creative energy that you use to pursue sexual fantasies, you will kill them. But it must start in the first five seconds – and not give up.
So my question is: Do you fight, rather than only praying and waiting and trying to avoid? It is image against image. It is ruthless, vicious mental warfare, not just prayer and waiting. Join me in this bloody warfare to keep my mind and body pure for my Lord and my wife and my church. Jesus suffered beyond imagination to “purify for Himself a people for His own possession” (Titus 2:14). Every scream and spasm was to kill my lust – “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
Pursuing purity of heart at any cost, Pastor John
I love you sweet peeps! More to come…