Question from a Site Viewer
I’ve been reading this site and it’s been a tremendous blessing to me in my young walk with Christ. I’ve been an on and off Christian but I’m sincerely seeking Him this time around. Still, I often struggle with feelings of doubt. And often I really struggle with intrusive negative thoughts about the Lord. I feel I simply can’t control my thoughts. I try to walk in faith but still have temptations of lust and adulterous thoughts. I sometimes feel harassed in my mind with these negative thoughts about God and feel as if I’m not saved. Other times I dismiss it as spiritual warfare–harassment from the enemy to discourage me. I get discouraged and wonder if these thoughts are a subconscious reflection of what I actually think of God or if it’s just normal spiritual struggle that afflicts some believers. I know I love Him. I pray that the Lord will rid me of these intrusive thoughts so that I do not question my standing with Him. I am calm and collected outwardly, but spiritually I am a complete basket-case. To control my thoughts seems utterly impossible.
It is nice to hear that God is using the site to bless His children. That has been our prayer for the site. Our focus is to draw people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We believe that the God who walked and talked with the saints of old, the God who would stoop to call human beings His “friends” and who desired a close, intimate fellowship with them, is the same today and is still seeking individuals to be His friends. His eyes are searching the earth (2 Chronicles 16:9).
So we are encouraged that you have chosen to want to love God with your whole heart. You have embarked on a journey that will be full of surprises, some pain, and great reward. You will be part of the grand mission of bringing God’s kingdom to this earth, and restoring to humanity what was lost in the fall of man. You will be tested. God always tests His own (Psalm 11:5; Jeremiah 20:12). Job, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, Paul, and even Jesus experienced God’s testing. So in the testing take hope. Know assuredly that those who persevere will receive an incredible reward; they will have fellowship with God Himself.
We understand your present struggle. In each of us there is an old man and a new man (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10). Or, in the words of Paul in Romans and Galatians, there is the flesh and there is the Spirit (Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16-26). Or, in the words of Paul in Romans 6, there is sin and righteousness. We have this constant struggle that we face. But there is more than one way to fight the struggle. Our advice is as follows.
When a thought comes in that doubts the goodness or love of God, do not engage the thought either to accept it or fight it. Thoughts will always appear randomly in our minds. Rather, choose to think about another thought. For instance, if a thought negative to God comes in, use that as a trigger to break out in thankfulness to Christ. Thank Him for His death for us. Thank Him for the forgiveness of sins. Thank Him for our lives. Thank Him for the sun. Thank Him for friends. Be thankful. Even if you do not feel thankful at the moment, use your will to override your feelings and express your thankfulness to God. Or, alternatively, use the negative thought as a trigger to pray for someone who may be in need. Every time something negative comes into the mind, pause and turn to God and intercede. These types of reactions to the thoughts will do a couple of things. First, if the thoughts are being prompted by the enemy, he will perceive quickly that you have found a way to transform these thoughts into the advancement of the kingdom. And if these thoughts are simply the random thoughts of the mind, by choosing to shift the focus of the mind to positive thoughts about God, you are creating new pathways in the brain that will transform your mind. I know this sounds too simple, but it has worked for me. Negative thoughts do not go away immediately, and their persistence can be discouraging. But be encouraged that if you persist in creating new thought patterns of praise and rejoicing, of intercession and prayer, your mind will be transformed into something you never thought possible. We do have a choice as to what we think about. We may not be able to control the thoughts when they arise, but we can control what we do with them. This is why Paul can say in Philippians 4:8 that we are to think about good things. It is our choice. Unfortunately, we often do not discipline our thought life and are very flabby in the way we think. We know that if we start exercising, we do not get in shape overnight, especially if we are out of shape. The same is true of the mind. It takes time, but we can, through exercise and walking with the Spirit of God, gain self-control.
And memorize Scripture. Memorization is a great tool to creating new thought patterns and empowering the Spirit of God to have a say in life. Again, it is the persistence over time that transforms a mind and heart into one of deeper and deeper love for Him.
I hope this helps. May your desire for our Lord Jesus only increase and abound in the richness of fellowship with the living God. And may He draw near to you in the fullness of His presence. Enjoy the journey!
a fellow pilgrim,