Questions From Readers
● Why is it that, even when a person is trying to fix his attention on good things, bad thoughts will come into his mind at times?—U.S.A.
This is because humans are imperfect, born in sin. Says First John 1:8: “If we make the statement: ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Of his own struggle in connection with bad inclinations, the devoted apostle Paul wrote: “I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members.” This occasioned the apostle considerable misery.—Rom. 7:21-24.
Like Paul, we have to contend with sinful desires and passions, which prevent our adhering to divine requirements perfectly. Though we may really want to do what is right, repeatedly we find ourselves being hindered by inclinations of the sinful flesh. Appreciating the rightness and righteousness of God’s law, we may find real delight and pleasure in it. Yet, in spite of this, we can be stimulated by circumstances, or suggestions can arise that stimulate us to give way to wrong thinking. The fact that we fall short of what we would like to do results in a painful conflict within ourselves. Nevertheless, as in the case of Paul, on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice, we can gain true forgiveness of sins and thereby maintain a clean conscience before God and men.
Also, if we allow ourselves to be led by God’s spirit, we will not become practicers of sin. As we read at Galatians 5:16: “Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all.” That is, though desires of the sinful flesh may ‘crop up’ in our minds, we will reject them and thus will not fulfill or carry these desires to fruition. In view of our sinful tendencies, we must continue to work hard not to let wrong desires take root in the heart and become fertile so as to give birth to sin. (Jas. 1:14, 15) The apostle Paul admonishes from his own personal experience: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.”—1 Cor. 9:27.
We should also keep in mind that there are wicked spirit forces, demons, that want Christians to deviate from the right course and start dwelling on wrong thoughts. We should not allow ourselves to come under their influence, but must resist them. “We have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against . . . wicked spirit forces.”—Eph. 6:12.
How can we be helped to keep our thoughts and desires under control? We must shun associations and circumstances that give rise to temptations. Should wrong desires or ideas come to mind, we should not give in to them, but exert ourselves to resist them. We should immediately try to switch our thoughts, forcing our mind to concentrate on good and upbuilding things. God’s Word counsels: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.”—Phil. 4:8.
It is also vital to appeal to Jehovah God for aid. We can rest assured that he will help us to avoid letting wrong desires and sinful passions gain the mastery over us. He will give us the needed wisdom to cope with trials and cause his spirit to move us to do what is right by bringing back to our minds Scriptural reasons for maintaining fine conduct. (Phil. 4:6, 7; Jas. 1:5) Then, too, any who are troubled because of wrong thoughts or desires can receive Scriptural help from men with spiritual qualifications, elders, in the congregations of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.—Jas. 5:14, 15.