Evil Thoughts–Can They Be Controlled?

Question from a Site Viewer
I have constant evil thoughts of cursing God with profanity. I know that they’re not my thoughts because I love God. I’m doing my best to try and serve Him with everything that’s within me and I would never purposely curse God. But at times, I often wonder if they are my thoughts because they seem like my thoughts and the way I used to curse and use profanity before I got saved. Are these evil thoughts my own or are they not? I feel as though my salvation depends on it.

Tim’s Answer
What we have placed in our mind does not suddenly disappear the moment we become Christians. If it did, we would never have any struggles with temptations and evil desires. And there would be no reason for Paul to exhort us to think about pure thoughts (Philippians 4:8), or to challenge us to bring every thought into obedience for Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), or to put to death evil thoughts (Colossians 3:5 — the words “passion, evil desire, and covetousness” are all thought matters). There is a battle we are to fight in our brains to transform our minds into minds of righteousness and holiness (Romans 12:2).

Thus, it is not surprising that you find evil thoughts of profanity arising in your brain. Like thoughts of lust or covetousness, the sin is not that the thoughts come in. Such thoughts are simply temptations. We all are tempted by our evil desires and other evil thoughts. What is critical to our lives as believers is what we do with those thoughts when they come into our minds. If we let them continue in our minds and we welcome them, then we sin. If we cast them down by refocusing our minds away from such thoughts, then we gain the victory over the temptations.

I know that it comes as a surprise to some people that we can actually control what we think about. Many of us are far better at disciplining our bodies than disciplining our minds. But Scripture tells us to gird up the loins of our minds (1 Peter 1:13). This is the exercise that is truly profitable.

I think there are a couple of ways I have found helpful in doing this. First, memorize Scripture. The sheer act of forcing oneself to memorize creates new thought patterns in the mind. Memorization requires concentration. And the more one memorizes, the more one’s mind is changed. If you memorize Scripture, then not only are you changing your mind, but you are changing it with the one thing that may help fight sin. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:9-11 that we hide God’s word in our hearts so that we might not sin. So memorization is very helpful.

A second way of helping to fight thoughts is to use the evil thoughts as a trigger for a good thought. Thus, every time a curse thought comes into your mind, use it as a reminder to stop and bless God and worship God. The evil thought comes in, and immediately you turn towards God and thank Him for His salvation, or thank Jesus for dying on the cross for you, or thank Him for being your friend, or any number of things. But use the evil thought as a reminder to stop and praise, thank, or pray to God. In so doing, you will be taking what could be a bad situation and turning it into a blessing.

This approach serves to keep Satan from using such thoughts against you. He will quickly learn that if he causes such thoughts to come in, it will only draw you closer to God. The consistent practice of taking evil thoughts and using them as reminders to stop and praise God is a very useful tool in the arsenal to bring about the renewing of the mind.

I also find that Christian music can be a powerful tool to reshape one’s thinking. It is not that there are not some good secular songs, but they do not help focus my mind on God like Christian songs do. Music is a powerful resource to draw our minds, whether towards God or towards something else. I encourage you, if you listen to music, to make sure that it contains Christian lyrics. Such lyrics find their way into your mind and create patterns useful for praise to God.

So, in answer to your question, the way you know whether these evil thoughts are your thoughts is if you embrace them and make them your thoughts. Thoughts that come into your mind are simply temptations, either for good or for evil. What you do with the thoughts determines whether they become yours or not. When an evil thought comes in, and you fight that thought by choosing deliberately to think about something praiseworthy towards God, then that evil thought does not become your thought. It was only a temptation coming from your brain. But if you welcome the thought and decide to dwell on the thought for a little bit, then you have bought the thought. It is yours.

I encourage you to fight the evil thoughts. Do not let them become yours. And if you slip up, understand that we have One who understands and is ready to forgive and encourage you to pick up your weapons and take the fight up once again (1 John 2:1-2). Over time, if you engage in this battle, you will win. It may take months to get to the place where you sense some victory over the profanity. My encouragement to you is to pray and seek God’s help and then engage in the hard work of transforming your mind. The end for you will be great blessing.

May the Lord Jesus and His Spirit encourage you and strengthen you in this long battle.

a fellow pilgrim,


6 thoughts on “Evil Thoughts–Can They Be Controlled?”

  1. i do have negative thoughts and they bother me because i do not want them…. i’m about to try those things …. thanks for sharing those things

  2. i deal with blasphemy thoughts. i hate them. my mind takes them and plays with them trying to change them and it doesn’t work it gets worse ugh i use Gods Word but it still comes.

  3. What about very unwelcome, obscene pictures and images that show up in my mind? It’s as if a group of men or women who are sex obsessed are trying to get me to see them. it seems there are men and teens driving’s near who want me to feed their game. They laugh like it’s funny.

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