Have you ever given any thought to who or what controls your thought life? Up until recently, I considered my thoughts to be my own. I understood that the enemy sometimes plants doubts or temptations. I also knew that I was supposed to think about the things of God, seeking first His Kingdom. But I never really thought about the concept of control. And no, I’m not talking about “mind control.” Rather I’m talking about the kind of control a driver has over his vehicle.
Who is really at the wheel of my thought life?
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Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you…. – Romans 8:5-9 (NLT, emphasis added)
Let’s break this down…
For most of my Christian life, I believed that my sinful nature and my new God-given nature were at war with each other. In my eyes, they were equal adversaries creating a conflict within me. And while it’s true that these two natures contradict one another, I’m not sure that “equal adversaries” is the best way to describe them.
And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. – Romans 8:2 (NLT)
As I pondered this verse, I couldn’t help but ask myself one question. Who is more powerful – the Holy Spirit or my old sinful nature?
If you have the Holy Spirit, then you have a power within you that is far greater than your old, sinful nature.
The power of sin is no match for the Holy Spirit.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. – Galatians 5:24-25
The flesh has been crucified. It holds no power in our lives any longer. But it is up to us to “walk by the Spirit.” We have to abide in Christ.
Before Christ, we had no choice – our sinful nature was in control of our thought life. But in Christ, we do have a choice. We can give the Holy Spirit control. And when He is in control, the sinful nature has to take a backseat. He doesn’t get to drive.
So is it possible for our sinful nature to take control and drive our thoughts? Yes, but only if we give him the keys. And I don’t know about you, but I never want to give him the keys again!
Here is a bit of truth: One of the reasons Jesus died was to set us free from the control of sin.
Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. – Romans 6:6-7
In the words of Paul, “Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:2) Let’s choose instead to live by the Spirit.
So who’s in control of your thoughts? Do we make the conscious choice to give the Holy Spirit control? Or do we allow our sinful natures to take the wheel?
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.