Defeat bad thoughts by thinking of something better
By Rick Warren
— May 17, 2010
Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. Philippians 4:8 (TEV)
The more you think about something, the stronger it takes hold of you, which is why the Bible teaches that we should, "Run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts . . . but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right." (2 Timothy 2:22, LB)
Temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets your attention arouses your emotions. Then your emotions activate your behavior, and you act on what you felt. The more you focus on "I don't want to do this," the stronger it draws you into its web.
Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don't argue with it, just hang up!
Sometimes this means physically leaving a tempting situation. This is one time it is okay to run away. Get up and turn off the television set. Walk away from a group that is gossiping. Leave the theater in the middle of the movie. To avoid being stung, stay away from the bees.
Do whatever is necessary to turn your attention to something else.
Spiritually, your mind is your most vulnerable organ. To reduce temptation, keep your mind occupied with God's Word and other good thoughts. You defeat bad thoughts by thinking of something better. This is the principle of replacement. You overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Satan can't get your attention when your mind is preoccupied with something else. That's why the Bible repeatedly tells us to keep our minds focused: "Fix your thoughts on Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1 NIV).
"Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable" (Philippians 4:8 TEV).
If you're serious about defeating temptation you must manage your mind and monitor your media intake. The wisest man who ever lived warned, "Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts" (Proverbs 4:23 TEV).