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Charles Stanley — Taking Control of Our Thoughts

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Our mind is the control tower of our life. Whatever happens in our life starts right here. All of our decisions are there. And the truth is, whatever we are today is the result of what we've been thinking about all those years. The Bible says, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he". So if you don't like what's going on around you, maybe you should ask yourself the question, What am I thinking about? What do I think about myself? What do I think about other people? Because what we think about is really what controls us.

For example, our relationship to God; our relationship to each other; our sense of direction in life; whatever we accomplish; our failures in life, all of that is a result of the way we think. And oftentimes we forget that, that this is a control tower. That everything else is a result of how we think. Now we can't control everybody else and control of all of our circumstances, but we are going to respond to circumstances in one way or the other. And so, when I think about how this affects us, I think about the fact that many people are where they are because of wrong-thinking. And so they don't like where they are. Other folks are where they are because of right thinking, because they've been thinking the right way. What you have to ask is this. What is it that determines what I think? Is it the Word of God, or is it something else I read, something else that I watch?

And I think about how many people sit down and open their mind to a television program, or to the news or whatever it might be, not realizing they are sitting there being programmed in their mind to think a certain way. You say, Well does that include preaching too? Yes! And I want you to listen carefully, because I want you to be programmed to think the way God thinks; programmed to understand the Word of God; programmed in such a way that you will live in a fashion that's pleasing and honorable to God. And that the very best that God has for your life, you'll be able to experience that. Yes! But on the other hand, you're watching some program that's full of sensuality or just crime, and all of these movies and so forth that you see and programs that I don't watch them. I can't name them, but I can tell you a lot of it is just pure junk. That you do not need in your mind, in your thought life, and certainly as a part of your life.

So what I want to talk about in this message is controlling our thoughts because this controls everything. And that's where our thoughts are from. So if you'll turn in your Bible to Colossians chapter three, and I want us to read these first eight verses, and look at this. Then I want to answer the question, How do we control our thoughts which determines our life. And Paul begins in this particular chapter and he says, for example, "Therefore," that is, based on what He's been talking about, "if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed," that is when He comes, "then you also will be revealed come with Him in glory. Therefore," watch this, "consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, And in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice slander, and abusive speech from your mouth". And so on he goes.

So I want us to look at this passage for a moment, I'm going to come back to it toward the end of the message, but notice what he says, "Therefore if you have been raised up". What in the world does that mean? When you were saved, it's as if the Bible says you die to your old way of life and you rose to walk in newness of life. That's what baptism pictures. You died to your old way of life. You're buried in Christ Jesus; risen to walk in newness of life. And he says, "Therefore keep seeking," since this is a new life, "keep seeking the things above," spiritual things. That doesn't mean that you forget everything that's in this life. We have responsibilities and joys and whatever it may be, "but keep seeking the those things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God".

So you understand the quality of those things, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth". Which is an awesome statement. "Set your mind". You're going to set it on something. "Set it on things above," things that are holy and righteous and good and godly and helpful, "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God". That is, you died your old way of life. When you said, I'm trusting Jesus as my Savior, you didn't just say, Well, I just want to add Jesus to my present life and I'll keep going. Now, this is what people do when they're living in areas of idolatry. And they have all kind of idols in their house. And, unless they fully understand, what they do when you explain Jesus to them, they say, Oh yes. And they've got a god to this; they've got an idol to this god, this god, this god and they want to know what kind of idol they put up here of Jesus and add to their religion. No. When you trusted Jesus, you died to your old way of life. And, "When Christ, who is our life, is revealed," when He comes, "then you also will be revealed (to come) with Him in glory".

Now watch this next verse, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to," illicit sex, to moral impuritiy of all sorts, "passion," that is that drive within you that causes you to do things that are not right. And he says, "evil desires, greed, which amounts to idolatry". And in those days, and what you'll find in the scripture oftentimes when the Bible talks about immorality, he also talks about greed, because he puts them together. And in the days in which Paul was writing to the Colossians and to the Romans and so forth. A Roman society, idolatry and sensuality were all sort of mixed up together, their gods. And they had prostitutes in the temples and so forth. And so it was all a mixture. So he says it's "because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them, watch this, "in them you also once walked," that's past, "when you were living in them". That is, that was your lifestyle. Then he says, "But now you also, put them all aside," that is, "anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech," that is you've changed. So, it's time to put away the things that don't fit your new life in Christ Jesus.

Now, I'm going to come back to that and show you something about that passage in a few moments, but I want to give you three ideas, three points to this message. And I want to end up with the last one being how do I control this control tower of my life? How to control my thoughts, is it possible to do so? But the first point is simply this: The pathway to controlling our thoughts begins with an understanding of our relationship to Jesus Christ. You don't understand that, you'll never understand this idea of controlling your thoughts. That's where it all begins. Because he says here, we were, "raised up with Christ Jesus," Referring to our salvation. There was a change that took place when you were saved. And as a result of that, God intended for our thinking to change, our mind to change, because this mind of yours controls everything else in your life.

You say, Well what about all the other parts of my life? We respond to the way we think. And so if we think right, we're going to have one response, we think wrongly, we're going to have another. Very important that we understand how that works. So this requires me to understand how to control my thoughts. If I want to think right; if I want to think godly; if I want to think holy; if I want to think righteously; right here's where it starts. And many people lose it right here. They don't think right. They don't think godly. They don't think like they're worth anything. And they say, Well you know, I just never had the opportunity or I just never will be that or I'm just this and I'm not that.

This is why people who are very beautiful can think they're ugly. And people who are very skinny can think they're fat. And they refuse to eat because they think, they look in the mirror and they don't see what's reality. And so your mind controls every aspect of your life. In fact, What you think determines how you live. What you think determines how your relationship to God as we said; your relationship to others; your relationship to yourself. And many people start out in life defeated because of the influence of their parents, their grandparents that tell them they'll never amount to anything. Or this is wrong with them or that's wrong with them. And as a result, they go through life, what? Having heard, written in their minds, impressed in their thinking, If my mama said it, my daddy said it or my grandmother said it, it must be true, therefore. And oftentimes people are ruined as a result of what they have been taught or what they've heard from someone that they value very highly.

So, with that in mind I want to come to the second point which is the challenge to controlling our thoughts. Because once you're saved, as I say your environment's the same, but could even get worse. But we're to live godly in an ungodly society, in an ungodly environment, and some people's environment's worse than others. I think about people who grew up in families, they get saved and nobody else in the family's a Christian. The family uses foul language, they never read the Bible, they drink, they carouse, or maybe unfaithful to each other; all kind of things. And here's this godly life that now is surrounded by very ungodly circumstances.

And I think about some situations and people that I've met and they tell me where they've come from and how God has worked in their life and how they lived, where they live, and the circumstances they live in. It is very difficult for them especially unless they're trained, unless they're taught. And I think how oftentimes people go to church year after year after year and nobody tells them or explains to them or helps them understand this is the way you think. And you can only think this way if certain things are true. And so, this morning my goal is simply this, to say there're challenges to thinking godly, but thinking godly is absolutely essential to our success in life, learning to live with ourselves and learning to live with others and accomplishing whatever God has in mind for us.

And when I think that, I think about two verses of scripture. For example, turn to Second Corinthians for a moment and look in this fourth chapter of Second Corinthians and the fourth verse. He says in this fourth verse, he says, speaking of the gospel and so forth. He says in verse three, "even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbeliever, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God".

Watch this. Satan blinds the mind of the unbeliever so that they can't; don't want to; have no desire to see the truth. If you turn to the eleventh chapter of Second Corinthians and look if you will in the third verse. Now, he blinds the minds of the unbeliever, but listen to what he says in the third verse, "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ". He blinds the minds of the unbeliever and he deceives believers. This is why people who profess to be Christians oftentimes live a life that we know is absolutely not biblical because they're deceived.

Well so, and so says it's okay or so, and so says it's all right. They're deceived by what they hear; by what they see; by what they feel. So Satan works. He doesn't work on your toe, your leg or somewhere else, he works in your mind. It's the battlefield in every person's life. Whatever goes on right here is going to affect every single aspect of your life. And so this is why it's so important and why Paul is talking about it here. And so what happens is Satan, working in your mind, will enable you to recall things that happened years and years and years ago, maybe things that were bad; something somebody did to you. Somebody molested you. Somebody mistreated you, or whatever it might be, it's still there. You, you can keep recalling it. And when you recall it, it's a bad feeling.

And so we have the power to recall. But if that mind is filled with things that are unpleasant, ungodly or as he would says here that we've been blinded and so forth, then we suffer the results. And so the mind is very important and can be easily deceived by the devil unless you fill it with the truth of the Word of God. And I'm not talking about just reading the Bible once in a while, which we'll see in just a few moments. So, when I think about this and I think about what is a reprobate mind? A reprobate mind is one, watch this carefully, that has looked at life, looked at particular sin in their life and decided, That's what I want; that's what I'm going to do; and I'm giving myself to that no matter what somebody else says or what anybody else likes. They can say anything they want to say. That's what I want to do and that's what I'm going to do. And it is something that the scripture teaches very specifically that it's an act of disobedience to God. When you give yourself over to a particular sin and you say, That's what I'm going to do; that's the way I'm going to live. Then what you have is a reprobate mind. It starts right here. Only you can decide that about yourself. A reprobate mind.

I remember one of my friends who had been a head of the Baptists in a particular state where I was, and he and I were good friends. And I remember one day we were eating lunch and he said, I remember he was down a little bit that day and I asked him what was going on. He said, You know, he was in the service and he was in another country and he was there, over there for a pretty good while. He said, You know, I don't want to tell you what, but he said, In those few years, I think he was there about three years. He said, I did a lot of things; I saw a lot of things; I experienced a lot of things. He said, I just sort of did what I wanted to do. And he said, Now these years have passed by and I'm in the ministry and I'm still suffering the results of my sins because somehow I can't get them out of my mind. He said, Because I so indulged myself in those three years of doing what I wanted to do or what I thought I wanted to do, he said, it has hampered me ever since.

So I'll just say this to you. It makes a difference what you think. And you may think it today and think, Well it's not going to ever happen, or, it's not going to hinder me in the future. What this. What you think is imprinted on your mind. Well how long does it take you to forget it? It may not take you but two weeks to forget it, but remember this. It is still in your mind. This is why things crop up in your thinking that you haven't thought about in years and years and years and years. Then on the other hand something happens this morning and you can't remember it. So, the mind is a strange thing, but one thing about it, whatever you put in there is there to stay until Jesus delivers you from it. So the mind is a powerful part of your body and the truth is your life is an expression of what you think. If you don't like what you're thinking you can change your thinking.

You say, Well now, I don't know that I can change my thinking. Yes, you can. For example, if you're angry, you can lay it down. If you feel that you're a nobody, full of unworthiness, you can lay it down. If you are jealous of somebody, you can lay it down. And we could just go through a whole list of pride and criticism, rejection, fear and greed, all of these things that people feel, they can lay it down if they choose to. Now if you don't think you can, and you're just convinced you can't, you say, Well I've thought this for years and years and years. Remember this one thing. Are you listening? Say amen.

You have the Holy Spirit living in you as a believer. When you trusted Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit came to live in your life. And remember what Jesus called Him. He said, I'm going to send the Helper. And when He comes, He'll be in you, with you and upon you. You and I who are believers, trusted Christ as our Savior, we have the Holy Spirit living within us. And one of His responsibilities is to, as a helper, is to enable us. That is, in our thinking, to bring back to our minds what we think and how we think. And to help us to remember scripture and so forth. But He's there to be a helper and to help us to think right about God, about Jesus; about our life; about others; about ourselves. He is our helper, so you can walk away. You do not have to keep remembering things.

You say, Well you just said it'll be there. It doesn't mean you have to remember it. It doesn't mean you have to bring it back. When somebody says to me, well I can't help myself. Yes, you can. Yes, you can help yourself. And I've lived long enough to know the times when I thought I couldn't help myself, finally God got through to the me and said, Yes, you can. You are responsible for what you think and how you think it. Because as a believer you have the Spirit of God living within you to enable you to think right. But it's important we understand what God says and how He says it. So, I want you to think about this and this will be on the screens, you can jot it down if you'll do it quickly. And simply this: We sow a thought and reap an action. We're going to respond. We sow an action, reap a habit because we keep sowing the same action. We sow a habit and reap a character because habits in our life determine our character. We sow a character, we become something; we reap a destiny. This is who we are and this is our future.

And then, remember this idea. Unseen thoughts produce visible consequences. Unseen thoughts produce visible consequences in our life, In other words, whatever we think, nobody else in the world knows exactly what you think. But the way you think is going to be visible at some point or the other. And if you feel unworthy, you feel like nobody cares; nobody loves you. It's going to be visible upon your face. You're not going to have any peace or joy or happiness. You think nobody really cares for you. It's going to show. It's going to be a part of your life, but it came from thinking. Don't think less of yourself that God thinks, and He died for you. No matter what somebody else says about you, you are a child of God once you've trusted Christ as your Savior.

So we're the ones who determine what we're going to be and so forth because it's the way we think. And this is why people can come from nowhere, the worst kind of situation and circumstances. You'd think they'd never amount to anything in their life and they excel, excel, excel beyond even their imagination. What? They started thinking rightly about themselves and about the Lord and about His place and position in their life. So, unseen thoughts produce visible consequences in their life. Now I say all of that to get around to saying this. How do we control our thoughts? How do we control them? Well, when a thought comes to your mind, one of several things you're going to do. You're going to accept that thought and you're going to express it in some fashion. Or you may just wrestle with it for a while. Or, you may deny it. And this is the way Satan will defeat you. If you're thinking something and you deny it, it just gets deeper and deeper and deeper.

So, you could accept it and express it. You can wrestle with it, deny it or you can control it. Because you have the Holy Spirit working within you, you can control what you think. And that's, if I'm going to control my thinking, I have to understand that. You have within you the power of the Spirit of God to enable you to think rightly. If you find, for example, yourself, somebody on your job you don't like them; You don't want to be around them. You can change your thinking about them.

You say, Well how can I change my thinking about them when I think that? Well you can say, frank, first of all, You know, God created them. He loves them. And I could talk you out of being bad toward them right now. In other words, if you just think about people the way you choose to think. And we're the products of our choices and how we handle these things in our life. Now. One of the ways, you overcome whatever that sin is in your life or whatever's going on, one of the ways you overcome this thinking is by asking yourself some very impacting questions. No just questions, but questions that'll make a difference in your life. And I would just encourage you to write these down.

You ask yourself these questions about whatever you're thinking, and the first question you ask is this. Where will these thoughts lead me? Where will these thoughts lead me? If I keep thinking the same thing, where it's going to lead you somewhere. Very important question, If I keep thinking this, where is it going to lead me? Another question is, will these thoughts get me where I want to go? Then you have to decide where do I want to go where do I want to go in life? Will what I'm thinking get me where I want to go? And if you say, I'm just not important. I'm a nobody. I don't have any gifts and talents and skills in life. And give yourself a lot of excuses, you won't get anywhere.

So you have to ask yourself the question, If I keep thinking this, where will this get me in life? Then ask yourself the question, Are these thoughts scripturally acceptable? In other words, let's say for example, you're sitting in front of the TV and something comes along, you know it's not right. And the world is full of pornography. And pornography is the world's photography. They have diluted the truth and they put all kind of stuff out there for people to watch and you ask yourself the question, Are these thoughts scripturally acceptable? And here's somebody committing some sexual act on television or whatever you may watch. Are these things acceptable scripturally? No, they're not. Then you shut it down; cut it off. You, in other words, you don't, watch. You do not have to watch what you know is not right. You can shut it down.

Somebody says, But I'm so weak. You're weak because you're talking about being weak. You don't have to be weak. You have the Spirit of God within you who will enable you to do whatever's necessary to overcome whatever's there. So what we're doing is giving these questions to say, let's look at reality. What's reality? Reality is where will these thoughts lead me? I have to answer that question. Will these thoughts get me where I want to go? I need to answer that question. Are these thoughts scripturally acceptable? I can answer that. Will these thoughts build me up or tear me down? And they're going to do one of the two. They're not neutral. Our thoughts are going to build us up or tear us down. When you sit through this message, these thoughts ought to build you up, not tear you down. When you look and listen to stuff that you know is not right, ungodly, unscriptural, sensual, whatever it might be, you know the real truth is they're going to tear you down spiritually.

So you have to decide whether you're going to watch, look or listen; or listen to your friends or whatever they're saying; because they're going to have some impact in your life. And then, could I share these thoughts with someone else? Whatever you're thinking, could you share it with somebody else? Or is that one of those thoughts that no, you couldn't. Well I'm not saying you should tell everybody everything you know in life about yourself, or whatever it might be. But on a daily basis, what I'm thinking, could I share it with somebody else? And they'll tell you where you are in your thinking. And then, where did these thoughts originate? And some thoughts did not, not originate with the Word of God. They did not originate in Heaven. They did not originate in godly living. They did not originate in anything that's holy, and they did not originate in anything that is good for you.

So when you analyze the thoughts, where did this come from; why am I thinking this? What's the source of this? What is this going to do in my life? Watch this. All of those questions you have the right and the power to answer for your life. Nobody else can answer them for your life. You have the power to answer them for your life. And we're just talking about how you think about yourself and the power of your thoughts. And you just think just these questions alone. And then the question is do I feel guilty thinking these thoughts? Well you know the answer to those things. You know, for example, if you thought about taking something that didn't belong to you, how would you think about it? You should feel guilty. If you don't feel guilty, you have a major problem. Then you need to think a little deeper. Have I ever been saved? Or what's going on in my life?

So we said your thought life is in your mind. This is the control tower of your life. And because it is, we make the decisions and we suffer the consequences or we glean the blessing of making right decisions in life. Whether it's about money or whether it's about marriage or whether it's about sex or friendship, relationships, Here's where it all starts. And this is going to control your life. And the truth is all of us up to this point in our life. Where we are is a result of how we've been thinking all these years. So how have you been thinking about yourself all these years? How have you been thinking about God? How have you been thinking about the Lord? How have you been thinking about your friends, your relationships; about our nation? In other words, what are you thinking about all that?

And you see, you can't take your mind out and put somebody else's in there except Jesus. When he says we have the mind of Christ, that is, watch this. When you trusted Jesus as your personal Savior, He gave us the power to think the way He thinks. That doesn't mean we'll be as wise as He is, or that we'll have all the knowledge that He has. But He gives us the right and the power to think godly as His creations, So we have the power to think right. We have the gift of Almighty God and someone to protect us in the process. Then you might ask yourself this question. Watch this. Do these thoughts fit who I am as a follower of Jesus? Do these thoughts fit who I am as a follower of Jesus? If I'm not a follower of Jesus, anything goes. But once I trust Christ as my Savior, there are some thoughts don't fit you. There are some thoughts that do not fit once you trust Christ as your Savior. They don't fit you.

Once you trust the Lord Jesus as the Lord of your life, they don't fit you any longer. And so, you and I make choices based on, watch this, who we see ourselves to be: a follower of Jesus Christ. And therefore there's some things that don't fit us. There are some places that don't fit you. There are some words that don't fit you. There are some thoughts that don't fit you. There are some clothes that don't fit you. There are some actions and attitudes and habits that do not fit us once we trust Christ as our Savior. This is why the Bible says, "Come out from among them and be ye separate, says the Lord". I'm to think different. And if I think differently, I'm going to act differently and probably going to look differently, if I'm following Jesus instead of the world.

We're in deeper trouble than we realize, because after you go to a certain point, and then you decide that you want to, you're going to change. How long do you think it would take for us to change our views in this country of sex? How long do you think it would take, or could you think it could ever be possibly turned around? That's just one aspect. But honesty and truthfulness, where's truth? Where's honesty? Where is purity? Where is godliness? The things that made us the nation we are, we've decided, and I'm going to show you a little contrast here in a moment. We've decided between two choices. And the choices we are making are choices that are destructive in their nature. And remember this. You can't change this. We reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow and it's getting very late.

Now, what I want to do is I want us to compare the difference between true genuine love and lust. And those thoughts are, they come from the control tower. How do we think? And so I want you to jot these down because oftentimes you'll hear people say, Well, I got in trouble because he or she said they really loved me and if they love me, they'd go to bed with me and so now I'm pregnant and on and on and on we go. I want you to think about how many precious little children are born in America without a father. It is a tragedy of tragedies in this country, that sex is so important that nobody seems to care about what are the consequences?

So, I want to give you a little example of the difference between love and lust. So I'm going to have a chart and we'll put it up on the board in just a moment. And love is an awesome blessing of God. And lust is something totally different. But when somebody says, put it this way. If somebody wants something from you and they say, Well look, I love you. Well here are some things for you to think about. Love is, listen, love is from God. Lust is from the world. Now remember that lust, listen, lust is desire out of control. That's what lust is. It's out of control. It gets stronger and stronger and stronger unless you deal with it. So, you have to decide is this love or lust. Love can wait; and lust has got to have it now.

I think about people who get themselves in a position. This is why you have to watch where you go; watch what you watch. Be careful, in other words, you have to be careful about choosing your friends. Well if you love me, you would do thus and so. No, if I loved you, I wouldn't dare do it. If I loved you, I would not touch you. If I loved you, no I wouldn't think that. If I loved you, I won't because lust is destructive. Love is selfless, not thinking about itself, but it's, listen. Lust is selfish. I want what I want because that's what I want. It's all about me. Lust is all about me, not about love, not about the other person. Love, for example, is giving.

Now you'll hear people say, Well, in fact if you'll recall, probably almost half a generation ago, maybe a generation ago, we heard a lot about free love. So I want you to listen carefully. There is no such thing as free love, no such thing. Let's start with the gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is free, but it cost Jesus His life on the cross. There's nothing free. It's free to us now by faith, but it cost Jesus His life. And true, genuine love has a price tag. It's not free. If you love somebody, you may have to sacrifice. You love somebody, you may have to give. You love somebody, you may have to be, in other words, there are lots and different ways that love can cost you something.

So free love, that's what the world talks about. And usually if they're talking free love, they're talking drugs and other things that go with that; because they've given themselves over to a lie. They have been deceived by the devil in their thinking. So, love is giving and lust is taking. I want this. I want that. Love is purity and lust is sin. It's just that clear, disobedience. Love develops and lust destroys. Destroys relationships, destroys families, destroys people, you name it. It's a destroyer. Lust is a destroyer, because lust says, I've got to have it. I want it. And this is why people commit all kind of crimes. They want something and they want it now. And then of course, the difference is that love is peaceful and lust is full of anxiety. Lust creates anxiety and love is peaceful. Lust is anxious. I want it now; have to have it now. And that's their attitude.

Now, we have to choose to obey the commands of Christ, and that's going to take us back to our scripture we read a few moments ago in these first few verses. Because if I'm going to live a godly life and I'm going to make my mind the control tower that I want it to be, I have to be obedient to God's Word. So when we talk about what he says in a few moments, we're not talking about just a little Bible reading here and there. So listen carefully. And what I want to do is I want to go through the scriptures and give you a little insight into what Paul says that's not always there in English, but it's there in the language in which he wrote it. And so when he says, for example, let's look at this first verse, "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ," he says, "keep seeking".

Now, he uses a form of the verb that says keep seeking, continually seek and habitually do it. That is keep seeking is to keep on doing it, not just once, but it's a lifestyle. You read the Word of God, you habitually and you are continually keeping the Word of God before you. It's a part of your life. You feast on it, it's a part of your diet. And he says, speaking of, "seeking those things above," what's he talking about? He's talking about, for example, when he says, "where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father," seeking things above doesn't mean that I don't have any more relationships and then I get holy and holy and I don't think about anything else. No, it means that I've set my mind on things that are pleasing to the Father, "keep seeking those things above". That is, what did Jesus teach?

So if I want to keep seeking things above, I'm going to find out what He said and how He lived and how He said I'm to live. And I'm going to keep, he says habitually do it. And no matter who you are, the devil will see to it that you don't remember much if you don't read the scriptures continually. I don't mean every single day all day; I mean when he says, "keep seeking those things above". That is, here's what he's saying. Make uppermost in your thinking. Make a big part of your thinking what God thinks; keep thinking those, "things above, where Christ is, seated at the Father's right hand".

And what kind of thinking is that? Jesus is always thinking, concerning us personally in your life; He's thinking what's best for you. What's best for you this morning? What's best for you in your job? What's best for you with your friends? What's best for you how you spend your money? What's best? What's best? What's best for you? He says, "keep seeking those things above," At the throne of God. And then he says, not only that, "Set your mind," and both of these use a form of the verb, which means habitually and continually, "Set your mind on things above," that is, as believers, followers of Jesus, we died to the old way of life.

And so we should be thinking God's thoughts. What does He think? How does He want us to think? How does He want us to live? And in the process of doing so, remember this. When you're thinking His thoughts, you're thinking the most powerful thoughts there are. When you're thinking His thoughts, you're thinking and beginning to see what He's thinking about you. And when you focus on what God thinks about you, that He loves you, that He's forgiven you, that He cares for you, that He wants the best for you, things begin to happen in your life. And that's why he says, Seek habitually, continually. And, he says, Seek and then he says, "Set your mind". Then he says, "you have died".

Now watch this. Here's the difference. When he says seek and set your mind, he says seek and set your mind habitually. When he says you died, you died to your old way. That is you were saved once. And then habitually seeking and setting your mind on Christ like something that goes on continuous in your life. So, why does he say that? Because he wants us to think the way God wants us to think, and so we can see what that's all about when we read the Word of God. Then he says, "consider the members of your body dead to," these thoughts.

Now, he uses another term, form of the verb here, when he says put it to death. Notice how he says it. He says, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead," watch this, "dead to immorality, dead to impurity, dead to passion," strong insatiable desire, "evil desires, greed," put them to death. You say, Well what does that mean? Here's what it means. Let's say, for example, that you just have this, you just got to have more money or maybe you've seen something you've just got to have, you've got to have, you've got to have it. Well what do you do? You can wrestle with it. You can just go ahead and express it. Or you can put it to death. You can control it. Watch this. The Spirit of God within you will enable you to lay it down. You do not have to fulfill temptation. If you had to, it would be an absolute awesome gross mistake on the part of God, that if He's asking him to do something He knows I absolutely can't do it. But we have the Holy Spirit.

Now, if you don't have your mind on the things of God, this is why he says, "Set your mind on the things of God," Keep, listen. Keep them habitually before you. So when Satan attacks you, you've got ammunition. One of them is I don't have to do that. Thank You, Jesus that You've given me the strength to say no to sin and to obey You. Now watch this. If you say, Well, I've got to think about it. That, Satan loves that, because what happens when you say well I gotta think about it. Where are you thinking? Right here. And where's Satan working? Right here. This is a battlefield, your hand, your feet, nothing else a battlefield. The battlefield's right here. And so you decide your victory or defeat in your mind. And your feet and your hands travel where your mind has already gone. You set your mind on somebody or something or some place. You set your mind on that and you keep thinking about that, thinking about it, and thinking about it.

Next thing you know, listen, your mind is not only there, but you're there. Your feet are going to travel where you set your mind. And so therefore we have to guard what we think. Then he says, "consider the members of your body dead to," all of these things. And so he says these things we, "once walked in," This is the way we once walked back yonder. But remember, we died to that. If somebody died and we brought the casket right in here and set it down here, it could be a hundred thousand dollar casket. You know what? They're dead. And you can do anything you want and you can take the coffin top off. You can talk to them, sing to them, shout, holler, yell and you know what? They're not going to move because they're dead.

And there are things in life and there are times in life when you and I need to be just as dead to what we've seen or what we've heard. And remember this. Satan will bring back what you've seen, heard, felt, touched, experienced, you name it. And so what do we do? Say put that to death. Thank You, Jesus; that doesn't fit who I am. So we say no. And you can say no. And somebody says, But I'm so weak. Listen. When you say I'm weak, you have just sided up with the devil. I am weak. Satan says, Sh, that's right. Say it again! Say it again! I'm weak. No you're not weak. You choose to think it at the moment, but you have the power of God within you to make a wise decision.

Then when he says, for example, watch this, and I just love this. He says, "the word of Christ richly dwells in you". In the third chapter. Look at the third chapter and the sixteenth verse. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell in within you with all wisdom". Look at this, "with all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts," look at what an awesome thing that is. He says, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell in you," and I love this Greek word. The word is "plousios" and here's what it means. It means extravagantly, "Let the word of God," when he says "richly," extravagantly dwell in you. That is, you've got the Word of God.

In other words, you can't think about much without quoting some scripture or thinking about some scripture; or the Spirit of God will bring to your mind some verse of scripture. He says let it dwell within you, he says extravagantly. Which means, if it's going to dwell in me extravagantly, it's going to have a powerful effect on my life. But secondly, it's not going to dwell extravagantly in me by just reading it once in a while. So please don't raise your hand on this question. How many of you take your Bible home, I know that wouldn't be true of you, take your Bible home after service and close it till next Sunday? Surely nobody in this congregation would do that. Amen? Well some of you don't sound very convincing. Amen? You wouldn't do that. You know, that's not filling your mind abundantly and as he says in this passage so beautifully, he says, Extravagantly.

The Word of God filling our mind and heart. So that, what? We have this awesome resource. Listen. When you do that, you know what God thinks about everything that you confront every aspect of your life. You know what He says. And listen. When it's overflowing in you; when the Word of truth is overflowing in you, you come against anything no matter what it might be, what happens? You know what the right response is. And if it's overflowing in you, then what happens is you sense the strength and the power of God to help you in that situation no matter what it is. But you just read the Bible once in a while, hmm. When I think about that word, richly, extravagantly, overflowing in you. That's ought to be our lifestyle.

So we began by saying your mind is a control tower. So you have to decide how you're going to live your life and what you're going to see, what you're going to read and what you're going to look at and so forth. And we said we make choices. And I think about that hundred and nineteenth Psalm, a couple of verses I'm sure I've learned a long time ago. In the hundred and nineteenth Psalm and the ninth verse says, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it," listen, "according to Your Word". How can you keep your way pure? Keeping it according to Your Word.

Then he says in the later verse, eleventh verse, "Your Word have I treasured in my heart that I might not sin against God". Treasured, not just drop it in, treasured, super-abundantly, overflowing; overflowing in our heart, the Living Word of God. Because what that means is up in the control tower is truth. In the control tower's a right sense of direction. Control tower, you're evaluating things as they are, not as they appear to be. In the control tower, here's what you're thinking. There are consequences to sin. Whatever I do today, I'll reap tomorrow. In other words, you're going to be thinking right. Super-abundantly as he says, extravagantly.

So, if there is some particular area of your life in which you're having a real problem, ask yourself the question, Where did that come from? It didn't come from this extravagantly awesome word of truth in my mind and heart. And if it doesn't fit that, it doesn't fit me. And remember this. You decide who you want to be. You decide what you want to accomplish. You decide how you want to live all right here. You decide whether you want to be accepted or rejected. You make a lot of decisions in your life, all right here.

And remember, right here's the battlefield in your life. Satan wants to pull you one way; God the other. Satan has never done you any good. He's lied to you, deceived you and made you promises not a single one of them has ever come true. But, the deception, he says, You'll enjoy this. But what he doesn't tell you is you'll enjoy it only for a season. There are consequences; there is a cost; there's a payday some day. You have to decide right there what kind of life you're going to live; what kind of future you're going to have. And he says if you're wise, you'll make right decisions. You'll ask those questions that I gave you about situations that arise in your life and in the process of making a decision. It's my prayer you'll make the right decision, a wise decision, and you'll be glad.

Father, how grateful we are for Your love for us. And thank You, thank You, thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable us, strengthen us, overshadow us and guide us. And I pray for every person who hears this message, especially Father, those who've never trusted You as their Savior, and living in defeat, that you will assure them that if they're willing to trust You, Lord Jesus, as their personal Savior, You'll bring about the death to their old life. You'll bring about the changes in life. You promised it, and You always do. I pray for those, Lord, who have trusted You as their Savior, but they're living in sin, miserable; obeying the devil and temptation. Make them so miserable, dear God, they'll turn around realizing I don't have to live this kind of life. I want God's best, and this is not God's best. Thank You, Father, You know what all of us need. Thank You for your awesome power to provide it. And we praise You and bless You for loving us the way You do. In Jesus' name, amen.

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