They’re not. Not by a long shot.
A long time ago, back in the distant past, long before kings and princes, the dark night of the soul or the enlightenment — an apple was presented to a beautiful woman. A tempting offer of prestige and power unlike any other ever imagined before. Gleamed under a forbidding moon. In fact, that was precisely the allure — nothing had been imagined before. And once bitten, the children of the woman were under its power.
The woman was Eve. But none of this came from her.
The thought was smoothly enticed, insinuated like a golden gleaming opportunity to sin just waiting to be bitten. And she chose to listen.
That is exactly what is true about your thoughts and you now.
We like to take credit for everything we do. Just as we also give blame. It’s Eve’s fault. Adam’s. Yours EVERYTIME you screw up. And yes, we do have responsibility for our part.
But the thought that popped into your head wasn’t your part. And that’s the truth.
The Thoughts in Your Head Are Not YOU
1. Who You Are
YOU are who God loved and created to walk with him in the Garden before sin. Just the two of you simply loving and being loved in a wonderfully close relationship. Sin messed this up, but if you’ve received Christ, the penalty for sin — and its power over you from the curse and fallen world — is broken. You have new life.
For as many as received him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1.12)
through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8.2)
You are perfect in Christ, in a profound way a saint of God while at the same time being perfected by the testing of this world here on earth.
That’s who YOU are.
2. Sin’s Plot
However, you have a sin nature that is doggedly following you, trying to beat you down. Unable to win in the end, but trying its darndest to trick you along the way to steal your joy and drag you back in.
And that is REALLY good news.
It means the thoughts that pop into your head, or in some cases that haunt you, try to control you, are not YOU. They’re not from you. Do you get that? Like the snake, the smooth-talker in the garden, they’re not from you. Only the choice is.
if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5.17)
The negative thought, feeling, or action is from quite a different source.
Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7.20)
It’s not the person you are, your nature, or yourself (which becomes right in God as soon as he redeems you). It’s a dead nature, the flesh, trying like crazy to convince you it’s still alive and kicking.
But Christ nailed it to the cross. With blood and water spewing from its side. Dead.
3. Beware Satan’s Greatest Trick
This is an essential truth you must understand.
Satan’s plan is to convince you that the thoughts in your head that tempt and overwhelm, that at times feel unbearable to resist, are from YOU. To make you feel like you are hopelessly caught in the false nature, fighting desperately, in spite of what the Bible says.
And if he can convince you that your negative, crazy, self-destructive thoughts are from you, he’s already won.
You are who you are and there ain’t no changin’ it, right? Or he convinces you that you have to fight a war you’re destined to lose.
But in reality those thoughts swirling around your head aren’t yours in the first place.
- (Sometimes) Whispered by the evil one
- Repeated ad naseum by your false nature
- Reinforced by the world’s experiences
That’s what Paul means when he says:
You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ³ways of this world and of the ¹ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our ²flesh and following its desires and thoughts. (Ephesians 2.1-3)
The trifecta of death trying like crazy to bring you back. But they’re the crazy ones, because they can’t. If you’re in Christ, they can only confuse you into believing the thoughts and desires they plant actually originated with you.
You don’t have to own anything you feel.
If you do own your destructive thoughts and feelings, the snake’s suggestion slips in — that’s maybe how you’ll always be. So you give up and believe you’re entrapped in sin, that you have mental issues, that you’re a hopeless alcoholic, that sex is too tempting for you, that you’re really gay, that you ARE whatever powerful notion your thoughts or feelings tell you. When in reality, you have a choice.
The thoughts and feelings are not your own. They are sin’s battle against you.
This is the crucial principle in overcoming: understanding the primary goal of the evil one is to make you believe the negative voices are your own rather than temptations.
4. When You Realize YOU Are Not the Problem — Control Your Mind
Take every thought and feeling your flesh throws at you — compiled by your experiences in this world — captive and throw them away. Every time.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10.5)
- The pretension is that it was ever yours, ever true.
- The knowledge of God is that you and he walk together again in the garden in your heart now, just like he planned in the beginning, because of Christ’s death and resurrection.
- So take a trash bag to each thought; pull the string tight around it. It isn’t yours. It’s Christ’s.
Think you don’t have the ability to take control?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galations 5.22-23)
Self-control. The truth is you have all control over your mind in Christ.
Just be aware:
The thoughts and feelings might not go away when you do.
5. Your Secret Weapon
The trick to controlling your mind is not defeating the negative thoughts in you — because they’re not yours — just rejecting the thoughts that come and moving on.
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me (the truth) –put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4.8-9)
The flesh and evil one may continue to throw thoughts at you. Move on. As you change mental patterns, as you take control of your mind and think about things that are excellent, pure, lovely, and admirable and not what seems undefeatable, you’ll find those thoughts and feelings lose their power or go away.
And even if they come back, the truth stays secure.
Because this is a time of testing here on earth, and you’ll have trouble. But it’s not your trouble. YOU are walking with God in the garden of your heart. Buckin’-naked. But beautifully loved.
So think about thoughts that are from you: that you are protected, whole, loved, and madly in love with your Beloved, Christ in you the hope of glory. That’s a thought that will be yours forever.