How to fight back in your struggles with impure thoughts.
Every Christian struggles with impure thoughts.
It is hard enough to follow God’s leadings for a more christian life in a sinful world but when that sinful world keeps catcalling and harassing you in your very own mind it can feel like your walking up a steep mountain side lined with jagged stones, each slip hurts more then a normal one would and each scrape you get wears down your stamina mentally, spiritually and physically.
The worst part of it though, the most draining and overpowering aspect, is it is a threat that comes from inside your own mind, it can feel either like your walls and have been breached and the enemy has compromised your security or it can feel like some deep rooted evil within you is speaking out, showing your true colors, your true desires and your real alignment in this war.
For years, as long as I have walked with God I have struggled with impure thoughts that make me feel insecure in my faith and make me feel like I do not truly believe in God’s word or accept his leading, that I am not taking to this whole “Faith” thing with God and that deep down I am just a worldly sinner that is, eventually, going to pull out of this upward called race.
The thoughts can range from violent, sexual or even just slanderous against God and seem to pop out of no where, it was driving me crazy that they were so persistent and that they came from me and I would often become frustrated or panic and spent years trying to ask God to simply remove them from me and monitor my mind.
This led to massive mental and spiritual fatigue and this would translate into the physical as we talked about above and after these constant internal struggles and the lack of relief it would lead to backsliding and spiritual burnout.
Struggles with impure thoughts taxed me, my prayers seemed to return to me void, I felt further from God because of these intrusive thoughts and I felt like I had peaked as a Christian and that my journey may only be going so far, that deep down I was not truly chosen and Jesus would say those dreaded words to me at the end of all things.
‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’Matthew 7:23
But no matter how far I felt from God he was faithful and never far from me, I began to wonder if this was some sort of mental issue eventually, that I was perhaps broken in a psychological way and not a spiritual one.
It turns out it was both.
The bible speaks on thoughts that do not come from men but dark leadings that can confuse us and lead us to do things in that confusion and strife not of God, the most powerful example is when Jesus was tempted in the Wilderness. He was alone, vulnerable, hungry and without a doubt thirsty there with no visible aid from God at the time and then the tempter came, trying to fill his head with lies and empty promises and urgings to do things he knew were wrong.
Modern Warfare in the struggle.
So lets fast forward to today, we live in a very different world in many different ways but this type of mental warfare on the church is still raging. I had learned these things about mental assaults from the enemy but I was still unsure how to repel them and after a few years of studying the mind I only had more information but no real solutions, at least not ones I understood at the time.
The key to these impure or intrusive thoughts is that we should not do more then rebuke them and move on, dwelling on them or giving them energy in any way shape or form is how they hurt us and once they hurt us, much like a snake bite, it lets poison get in that wears us down and can even kill us in extreme cases of struggles with impure thoughts.
So here in modern times what to we look to to give us an example of how we should proceed in these situations? Odds are if your reading this post, spend a part of your day or week on forums or gaming or use your phone to regularly check your social media you know just how ugly people can be on these things, people berating one another, posting awful things for the sole purpose of offending others and even attack you for your opinion or actions no matter how mundane and wholesome they are.
The answer came to me while gaming a few weeks back, I was playing a first person shooter when I was killed in game and instantly the other player that had got me starting harassing and insulting me in the chat for this accomplishment, we had not spoken before, I do not recalling having killed him in the game as of yet he was just eager to tear me or anyone down….
Now they had said some pretty hurtful things and my first reaction was to get mad but my next thought a second alter was….
I don’t know this person, they want me to get offended and mad and as I thought about this the comment was already lost in a sea of other chaotic chat interactions of people calling for medics and alerts that someone had gotten an achievement, it was already gone and that person had achieved nothing but looking like an idiot and a creep and was basically ignored not only by me but everyone else.
This was when God revealed to me that this is a strong tool against these impure and intrusive thoughts that can pop into our heads, if we do not respond to them they will soon be lost in a wave of other thoughts and will have accomplished nothing and gained no foothold because it never got any energy out of me.
I took up this mentality for about a week and I noticed my anxiety and depression on the matter drop noticeably to the point I feel like I have more control then I ever thought possible in this matter.
I know it may sound simplistic, it basically boils down to “Don’t worry about it” but when you know the situation and process it takes much of the anxiety off.
Jesus surely felt assaulted by the dark leadings he faced but he remembered scriptures, rebuked the thought and gave it no more energy, he did not dwell on it most likely, he did not lose heart at the thought that the devil was even able to talk to him or tempt him, he just remembered the truth, did not bother to be shaken by the attack and let it slip away.
Pact-Keepers if Christ was a target for temptation how much more are we? Your not a fake christian and your no weaker that anyone else, this false image we build up of one day becoming some unshakable person with no flaws and an easy road is a modern idol of the church and before we can tear it town as a whole we each need to tear it down inside ourselves.
Paul had a thorn in his flesh, lustful thoughts overtook David and Moses let his frustrations shape his actions and was denied access into the Promised Land, these great men we should learn from had setbacks with their struggles with impure thoughts, stumbled over intrusive and impure thoughts and even in all their faith and great deeds never reached a point where they were above experiencing them so do not feel like a failure of traitor for experiencing these thoughts, they are whispers from the enemy and simply hearing them does not equal sin on your part but engaging in them like a killer, dwelling on them in a longing manner like an adulterer or giving them energy and ground like a worrier will come back as sin.
Tackling it like that is what does not work for us.
Remember God, do not give the thought your energy and it will fade away and if you do not panic or linger on it and let it be lost to the sea of the mind it will become weaker each time until your can shoo it away like a fly without a second thought or pull it out and discard it like a sliver and in doing so we rest in God’s grace by not giving into worry or panic and deepen our roots of faith and our walls against these struggles with impure thoughts that so commonly assail us all.