Original Post Date: December 20, 2014
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
I have been chewing on the apostle Paul’s words (above) for quite a few weeks now. The Lord has been showing me the importance of exercising a healthy thought life and guarding my mind against sin.
An unguarded thought life is risky because our thoughts are one of the few things in our lives that go unseen. Thank God. However, as a result, there is a temptation to allow our minds to wander to unhealthy places because after all, we are the only ones who can hear our thoughts, right?
Upon realizing the extent to which an unguarded mind is unhealthy for my spirit, I sought the counsel of many dear friends to see how it is they go about taking their thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). One friend, of whom I am actually discipling, expressed the importance of realizing that God is completely aware of our thoughts.
This is of particular concern because when we as Christians ask God to be Lord over our lives, we are inviting Him to dwell in every aspect of our lives. Imagine your mind as a living room. Upon being invited to dwell there, Jesus knocks on the door and enters. He glances around and observes the rotten fruit of an unguarded mind: the walls have been tainted, the furniture is ruined, and the floor is covered in garbage. “Welcome to my mind, Jesus,” you say sheepishly before stumbling around the room picking up as many unhealthy thoughts as you can. In your frenzy, you feel Jesus’s hand on yours, signaling you to stop. You look up to see Him smiling, “Let me help,” He says, “I’m pretty good at cleaning up messes.” And so you begin to clean up the mess of your mind together.
We want our minds to be guarded so that Jesus, our great guest, can find comfort as He dwells in it. Making our minds a safe dwelling place for Christ gives Him the freedom to move around as He pleases. It becomes a place where fruitful conversations and prayers with God can be conjured. I am currently fighting for such a mind.
Upon declaring war for a healthy thought life, I have chosen two weapons to assist me in battle: boundaries and free will. Let’s not confuse boundaries with rules. Rules emphasize right from wrong, boundaries distinguish healthy from unhealthy. Rule following is easy; it does not require that one understands the rule maker or the rule maker’s intentions, it simply requires obedience. Rules answer the question what do I do? Boundaries answer the question why do I do it? Rules control us. Boundaries protect us.
Control is the exact opposite of free will, and indeed the Lord has given us the right to free will. We know this to be true based on the existence of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis. If God did not want Adam and Eve to eat of the tree, why did He put it there in the first place? The answer is free will. From the beginning of humankind, God has always given us the right to choose Him or reject Him. We would have had no choice but to love Him if the tree did not exist, but love that is forced is not love at all, and God knew that because He IS love.
All that being said, I do have the right to think about and do whatever I please. I have the right to let my mind wander and roam into unhealthy places simply because of free will. However, let’s give our free will some perspective: just because I have the right to do so doesn’t mean it is good for my spirit. Not everything is beneficial. Do not be mastered by lack of spiritual health, brothers and sisters. Fight the good fight to prepare a safe dwelling place for Jesus to live inside of you and dare to see where it takes you and what desires come out of it. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Christ as my anchor