Philippians 4:8 (NIVB) Finally, brothers, 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.
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Mary Winkler – a pastor’s wife — was accused of murdering her husband. Watching her arrest on television, my emotions stumbled over each other as anger warred with compassion, confusion with condemnation and justice with mercy. Then it happened. Mary Winkler raised her face slightly, long enough for me to gaze into hauntingly familiar eyes, eyes filled with emptiness and darkness. While I can neither condone nor even understand the actions of Mary Winkler, I can understand the road that brought her to the dark place where she felt her only option was to commit such a heinous crime. The pit of clinical depression is a place of devastation — the playground of Satan and the forces of hell. In 1995, I found myself sitting at the bottom of a dark pit, desperate for God, pleading for deliverance. After several years of painful emotional work, fierce spiritual warfare and complete brokenness, I finally stepped into the light. God gave me life-changing truths in the darkness that revolutionized my life in the light. One of the most important truths is that we can change the way we live by taking steps to change the way we think.
Step one: Recognize the power of thoughts.
Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB).
Step two: Know God’s standard for our thought life.
· First standard: true thoughts
· Second standard: noble thoughts
· Third standard: right thoughts
Fourth standard: pure thoughts
“Pure” literally means that which is “wholesome, not mixed with moral impurity, innocent and morally undefiled”. It is a worship word, the picture of a sacrifice without blemish, fault or weakness. In other words, our thought life should be a sacrifice acceptable to God and fit to be brought into His presence as part of our worship to Him.
Have you ever watched an icicle as it is formed? A few years ago, we joined our best friends, Michelle and Jay Johnson, for a winter vacation in Vermont where a heavy snowstorm had arrived just ahead of us, dumping several inches of snow. Everything was covered in a rolling, soft blanket of white. Icicles hung like fragile crystal ornaments from tree limbs and rooftops. One morning, I decided to be lazy and sat, curled up in front of a crackling fire, gazing out at the beautiful postcard scene before me. I watched the softly falling rain gradually turn to long strands of ice. The icicles formed one drop at a time until they were a foot long or more. An interesting process unfolded before me. If the water was clean and pure, the icicle was formed clear, sparkling like a finely cut diamond in the sun. If the water was unclean and impure, the icicle looked muddy and its beauty was spoiled!
Our lives are formed…one thought at a time…one attitude at a time. The purity of our thoughts determines the purity of our lives. Darkness feeds on impure thoughts. The battle plan against depression must include a direct assault on impure thoughts. David, in Psalm 101:33, issues this challenge: “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” Notice the word “refuse”. We can refuse dark thoughts. We can choose against negative attitudes. This standard needs to be the ongoing commitment of our thought life! To keep this commitment, to control our thoughts requires us to control all outside influences.
Our prayer should be like David’s in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires” (The Message).
A clean mind will produce right desires. Right desires will produce right habits! And right habits produce a life of power and joy, a life that is pleasing to God…a life that is right and lived out in the light of His power and purpose for each one of us! The old adage is true: “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny!” A powerful weapon against the darkness is a pure thought life. Think about it!
Father, it is so easy to let impurity creep into my thought life each day. I battle my own mind that tends to think thoughts I know dishonor You. I can only imagine what those choices do to Your heart. Many times, it is hard to take a stand for purity and godly discipline. But I want to! Please give me the strength and power to become a woman of integrity with a pure thought life.
In Jesus’ name
Now it’s Your Turn
Consider the statement that your thought life “should be a sacrifice acceptable to God and fit to be brought into His presence as part of your worship to Him”. Have you ever considered your thought life to be part of your worship?
What one change can you make this week that will purify your thoughts?
Memorize Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires” (The Message). Make this verse the prayer of your heart this week.
At the end of each day, look for changes God made in your life because of your commitment to a pure thought life.