You have heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” More accurately, it could be said that you are what your body assimilates, or what enters your blood stream. Not everything you eat is assimilated by the body; part of it is expelled as waste.
Your mind works in a similar way, and, in fact, the Bible refers to the mind as “belly” several times. Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:37-39)
Many thoughts enter your mind, but only those you choose to think upon, and dwell upon, will become a part of you. Those thoughts you choose not to dwell upon are expelled and do not become a part of you; much like your digestive system.
The thoughts you choose to dwell upon will make up who you are. You are what you think. Do not confuse this with, “You are what you think you are.” That is not what I mean. Your character and personality is made up of the thoughts that you chose to dwell upon throughout your life.
The wise man once said, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” (Proverbs 23:7) Your whole character, or personality, was made up, day by day, by the things that you chose to think about, and dwell upon. The thoughts that you choose to dwell upon have an affect upon you, and change your character and personality.
John instructed us to dwell upon God’s love. (See 1 John 3:1) Paul counseled us to dwell upon pure thoughts. (See Philippians 4:8) If every impure or vain thought that ever entered your mind had been immediately dealt with, or not allowed to take root and become a part of you, then you would have never sinned. Christ never allowed an impure or vain thought to dwell in His mind, and therefore He never sinned; not even in thought.
Christ was presented with impure thoughts throughout His life on earth, yet not one of those thoughts were allowed to linger and become a part of Him. An example of this is given in the book of Matthew.
The Temptations of Christ
Shortly after Christ’s baptism He went into the wilderness, “Then the devil taketh Him [Christ] up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto Him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:5-7)
When Christ was confronted by this evil suggestion, His immediate response was, “It is written.” Christ wasted no time in dealing with this unholy influence. He did not wait and think about it to determine whether it would give Him some satisfaction. As soon as this suggestion was recognized as an unholy influence, or a vain thought, Christ immediately combated it with God’s Word.
Christ knew that He would be presumptuous to expect His Father to save Him after He had done something like throwing Himself off of a wall. This is why He said, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
Christ was not immune from temptation for the Bible says, “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Christ was tempted like as we are, yet without sin. What does it mean to be tempted like as we are?
A Biblical Definition of Temptation
James wrote, “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”(James 1:14,15) We are tempted when we are drawn away of our own lust and enticed. This enticement is done in the mind. When we allow that enticement to take root in our minds, then we have sinned; even before any outward manifestation has occurred.
Christ felt these enticements like as we do yet He never, even in thought, allowed these enticements to determine, for evil, His next thoughts or actions. Truly, Christ was without sin even though He has suffered being tempted.
Jesus expounded on God’s law, explaining that God’s law is broader than the restrictions of an outward act of sin. He said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27, 28)
Sin begins in the mind and, if we hope to overcome sin, we must begin in the mind. Solomon wrote, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) We are admonished to diligently guard what we think, because out of our mind (or heart) comes the issues of our lives.
Jesus said, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:20-23)
Guard Against Evil Entering Your Mind
Whatever we put into our minds will come out. If we are putting evil thoughts into it, then evil thoughts will proceed out of it. Moses gave us good instruction when he said, “take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.”(Deuteronomy 4:9)
Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37)
Before your mouth ever speaks it, your mind thinks it. Every idle thought that we choose to dwell upon, we will give an account thereof in the day of judgment.
God holds us accountable for the thoughts of our heart, and we are required to repent for vain and unholy thoughts. Peter said, “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts 8:22)
The reason God gave for the destruction of men by the flood was that the thoughts of their hearts were evil continually. It is written, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
Evil thoughts have been a problem since the time of Adam and Eve, and certainly are no less a problem today. Jesus beheld some scribes of His day and “knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4) Why do you choose to think evil in your hearts? You do have a choice.
Forsake Evil Thoughts
David wrote, “I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” (Psalm 119:113) God hates vain or unprofitable thoughts. He said, “wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” (Jeremiah 4:14) How long shall your vain thoughts lodge, or remain, within you?
Isaiah wrote, “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6, 7) God pleads with us to forsake our ungodly thoughts of sin and turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness.
Isaiah recorded what could be applied to many in our day when he wrote, “their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.” (Isaiah 59:7)
Clean the Inside of the Cup
Jesus said, “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matthew 23:26-28)
Many of us are in need of a change in our lives. We need a deeper consecration to God. We need to submit our lives more fully to God than we ever have before. This will not be accomplished by making the outside of our lives appear clean. We cannot be truly clean unless the inside of our lives is clean. A man may appear to be the most upright man alive and yet be filled inside with evil thoughts. This man is not truly clean. Jesus said if we first clean the inside of the cup, the outside will become clean as well. If we first seek for a change of heart in the inward man, the outward will naturally become clean also.
This change of heart cannot come by striving in our own strength to obey a list of regulations. This will never work, for we would be striving to clean the outside of the cup while the inside is still filthy. The change must come from within, which can only be accomplished by the transforming power of the love of God, and the abiding presence of Christ and His Father. (See John 14:23)
James wrote, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:7, 8)
We are entreated to cleanse first the inside of the cup, or our minds, so that the outside may be clean also. Jesus said, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15:3)
Dwell on God’s Word
It is the words from God that cleanse us inwardly. If we expect to forsake our own vain thoughts, we must fill our minds with pure thoughts, inspired by God. God’s Word will so mold us and shape us that we will be fit subjects for the kingdom of God.
The thoughts that we choose to dwell upon, whether pure or unholy and vain, will alter and change our character. Diligently watch and guard what you allow your mind to think about and dwell upon, because those thoughts will change you, and you will become what you behold or think about.
This truth was expressed by Paul when he wrote, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) What we behold, or dwell upon, is what we will become changed into.
Paul gave us good instruction as to what we should dwell upon when he wrote, “the love of Christ constraineth us.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) The Greek word that was translated “constraineth” means “to compel, to preoccupy.” (Strong’s Greek Lexicon) Let the love of Christ so rivet the attention that it will be your preoccupation throughout every day of your lives, to the end that you will have that same kind of love.
May God continually make us aware when a vain thought threatens to crowd our mind so that we can choose, at that point, to call upon God for help in casting that thought out of our mind with “it is written.” God’s Word will act as an elevating influence to draw the attention from idle thinking. Isaiah wrote, “thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)