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Triggers for Sinful Thoughts

 

A few weeks ago, I conducted a survey to determine what some of our greatest triggers are as wives that get us thinking in a downward spiral of sinful thoughts.

Of those who answered, here are the results (please remember that ladies could vote for as many of these as are triggers for them):

  • Comparing your marriage to someone else’s marriage that you know – 135 votes
  • Reading about what godly husbands should do – 131 votes
  • Romantic movies/books – 100 votes
  • Reading other people’s Facebook pages and seeing their happy pictures – 94 votes
  • Marriage books/blogs that talk about what wives need – 93
  • Comments from other husbands that seem very loving toward their wives – i.e.: complimenting their wives’ beauty – 91
  • Love songs – 67
  • Other – 33

Over 744 of you read the survey, but not nearly as many answered – If you want to go back and answer, you are most welcome to! 🙂 The more answers, the more accuracy. 🙂

I would love you to stop right now and let’s pray together –

Precious Lord,

Please open our eyes to anything that You see in our lives that we are cherishing and holding on to that is sinful in Your sight. Show us our personal temptations and snares. Show us the ways that the enemy would like to entrap us and destroy our witness for You and our fruitfulness in Your kingdom. Expose his designs and plans. We confess and repent of every single sinful thought that offends Your holiness and we receive all that Christ Jesus has done for us on the cross. We receive Your Spirit. We long to be filled with Your power. Let us walk in righteousness and holiness for Your Name’s sake by the power of Your Spirit living in us. Cleanse us of our sin and show us what changes we may need to make to avoid temptation and what changes we may need to make to protect and guard our hearts and minds to prevent sin from taking root in our lives. We submit fully to You, holding nothing back. We trust You completely. Our faith is in Christ alone.

Let’s do a quick review of thoughts that God counts as sin:

  • lack of faith in God – complete unbelief is an unforgivable sin if we continue in our unbelief and die in this state as unbelievers (Hebrews 11:6, John 16:9). Thankfully, PRAISE GOD, if we repent of our sins and turn to Christ in faith, receiving His work on the cross for us and receiving Him as Savior and LORD of our lives, we can be forgiven for our past unbelief!  Weak faith is also something that can trigger doubts, worry, anxiety and fear, please see comment with scriptures referring to the different types of unbelief.
  • disobedience to God/His Word (John 14:22-24)
  • lack of wholehearted love for God, a divided heart/mind that longs for things other than God (Matthew 22:38-39)
  • idolatry/addictions – putting something/someone above God in our hearts, seeking our ultimate purpose in life through something/someone other than God, looking to that thing/person to bring ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment instead of God, building our lives on some priority other than Christ (Ezekiel 20:13, Exodus 20:4, I John 5:21)
  • irreverence toward God – lack of proper fear of God (Romans 3:18, Proverbs 1:7)
  • lack of respect for those in positions of God-given authority over us – including our husbands, the government, church leaders, managers at work, the police, etc… (I Cor 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33,  Ephesians 6:1, Romans 13, Hebrews 13:17)
  • pride – “I know best.” “I have ultimate wisdom.” “I know better than God.” “I know better than my husband.” “I’m always right.” (Psalm 10:4,  Proverbs 16:18-19, Isaiah 14:12-15, I Corinthians 4:7)
  • self-righteousness – “I am so much better than my husband.” “I am so holy. I am much more holy than he/she is. God is really impressed with how good I am!” (Romans 3:10, Matthew 23, Luke 18:9-14)
  • hatred – which is murder in our hearts (I John 4:20, I John 2:9-11, Proverbs 10:12, Matthew 6:15, Matthew 5:44)
  • unforgiveness (Mark 11:25, Ephesians 4:26,27,32, Matthew 6:12-15, Colossians 3:12-13, Matthew 18:21-35)
  • gossip (Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 16:28, 6:16-10, 11:13, 20:19, Titus 3:2, Luke 6:31, James 4:11)
  • lying (Proverbs 19:9, Colossians 3:9-10, Psalm 101:7, Ephesians 4:25, John 8:44)
  • covetousness (Exodus 20:17, James 4:3, James 1:14-15, I Timothy 6:10, Mark 7:20-23)
  • resentment (Mark 11:25, I Corinthians 13:4-8, Luke 6:37, Matthew 6:12-13, I Peter 2:23)
  • bitterness (Ephesians 4:31-32, Hebrews 12:14-15, Romans 12:17-21)
  • malice (Ephesians 4:31-32)
  • lust (Matthew 5:28, Galatians 5:16, I Corinthians 6:18, I Thessalonians 4:3-5, Colossians 3:5, I John 2:16, II Timothy 2:22, Romans 8:6, James 1:14-15, Galatians 6:8, Philippians 4:8)
  • apathy toward God or others (Revelations 3:2 and 16, Zephaniah 1:12-13, Romans 12:11, Romans 12:9-13)

 

These are some of the things our Lord HATES. These are the kinds of evil things that nailed Jesus to the cross. These are the things He paid for on our behalf with His own pure, holy, righteous blood. How I pray that we might come to hate all sin as much as God does! Once we are believers in Christ, God calls us to give up being slaves to sin and to be slaves to righteousness from this point forward. We are to be dead to sin. We were buried with Christ and our old sinful nature died with Him and was buried. Now, we have a new nature in Christ, a new Spirit (God’s Spirit) and we are to live in obedience to God by the power of His Spirit working in and through us.  We are new creatures in Christ! The old is gone, the new has come! (Romans 6)

God calls us to live holy lives. He calls us to take every thought captive for Christ and not to dwell on sinful thoughts.  (II Corinthians 10:5) The ONLY way we can have power and victory over sin is to live by faith in God, trusting fully in Him, submitting fully to Him and allowing His Spirit to flow through us. Avoiding a list of potential tempting situations – without God’s power in our lives  and without us fully trusting Him – is an exercise in futility.

 

Here is one secret, my precious sisters. We must discover the things that tempt us to begin thinking sinful thoughts and we need to guard our hearts around those things and avoid them whenever possible.

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5

I think that what we can conclude, is that if something is causing and triggering sinful thoughts for us (here, Jesus had just talked about lust), then, we need to try to avoid or get rid of the trigger. It is a serious issue.

What causes temptation for me may not cause temptation for you. So, our triggers may be different. But the goal is the same, to live by the power of God’s Spirit, to fully submit to Him as LORD, to examine each thought that enters our mind and reject any ungodly, unholy, unscriptural, sinful thought and to focus our thoughts on the truth of God’s Word alone.

OTHER TRIGGERS:

Many of you shared other things that trigger a cascade of sinful thoughts and temptation for you. I want to share some of these so that we will not be ignorant of the devil’s schemes.

  • husband bashing among other women
  • focusing on what I deserve, how I want to be treated, what my husband is not doing
  • remembering the past when my husband was more romantic than he is now (comparing my own husband to himself from the past)
  • seeing godly men worshipping and praising God
  • seeing a man who has strengths that my husband doesn’t have
  • being sinned against
  • Thinking thoughts like -“I MUST have this person/thing to be happy. I can’t live without it. If God takes X away, I won’t love Him anymore.” (Idolatry)
  • when someone else receives praise, accolades and recognition
  • when I receive praise, accolades and recognition
  • focusing on my unmet needs
  • focusing on my circumstances
  • seeing men with a job or who are financially responsible or who take time to spend with their families or who take their families on vacation when my husband doesn’t do those things at the time
  • wanting my husband to change
  • watching porn
  • watching or reading something sensual
  • sometimes even reading rated G Christian romantic books (can trigger discontentment)
  • daydreaming about “what would it be like to be with that other guy?”
  • reading that men really want sex from their wives (particularly when my husband doesn’t seem to want sex with me very often, or ever)
  • when my husband sins against me or comes across in a way that seems unloving to me
  • my husband spending time watching TV, watching sports, on his phone, with his friends, with his hobbies
  • PMS/hormones/pregnancy/peri-menopause/illness/exhaustion/low blood sugar/health problems/pain
  • self pity
  • seeing someone else’s husband spiritually lead, serve, pray or give
  • having a very godly male pastor/teacher can make us feel justified to submit to and respect them above our husbands in a way that is not appropriate – i.e. “Pastor Joe said we should give more money to the poor. So, I’m going to do what he said no matter what you think, Honey. After all, Jesus did command us to give to the poor.”
  • when my own husband begins to be more loving, or begins to change in Christ, or begins to pray with me and lead in a more godly way, I have to be really careful not to begin to put my hope, trust and faith in him instead of Christ or not to begin to put him above Christ in my heart
  • Getting what I want can reinforce my idols if I have any or can tempt me to turn good gifts from God into idols
  • hearing/reading another man’s fervent prayer – for many Christian wives, this is the highest level of intimacy we could experience with a man, to pray fervently together, this can be extremely attractive, even sexy
  • being persecuted for my faith in Christ and for seeking to do what pleases God
  • experiencing victory over a sin or trial and then focusing on what a great job I did (pride) or loosening the guard on my heart
  • fashion/hair/make up magazines
  • reality shows
  • celebrity gossip shows
  • focusing on what I want instead of what God wants
  • worry/anxiety/fear
  • facing the unknown
  • when my husband makes a decision I REALLY am not comfortable with
  • when I don’t feel safe in some way
  • lack of trust in God
  • thinking about how I HAVE to have something/someone to be happy or to be OK (that is not God)
  • misplaced priorities
  • unbiblical thinking
  • watching HGTV, commercials, home decorating magazines, Pinterest, social media, soap operas, seeing luxuries that other people have
  • worldly music/media/books
  • thinking about “what if my husband passed away” and how I would be able to live somewhere special or have imagined freedoms
  • focusing on the things that seem so attractive, mesmerizing, exciting, enticing about another man
  • when my husband gives attention/affection to my step-daughter
  • reading men-to-men Christian advice blogs/columns/articles
  • hearing sermons about husbands’ responsibilities in marriage
  • hearing sermons about how men should be godly fathers
  • being far from God – clinging to any sinful thoughts, not having time for Bible study and prayer, spiritual starvation
  • a general spirit of discontentment
  • lack of gratitude and thanksgiving and praise for God
  • attempting to compare another man’s strengths to our husband’s weaknesses and ignoring our husband’s strengths and the other man’s weaknesses
  • loneliness
  • when my husband talks with his ex wife
  • when my husband talks with other women
  • when another man gives me his full, undivided attention and makes tender eye contact
  • when another man prays with me or for me
  • pictures of myself (for women who are struggling with body image issues)
  • when I expect a person or something of this world to meet the deepest needs of my soul
  • disappointment
  • seeing a good looking man, or an immodestly dressed man
  • a man flirting with me/teasing me
  • confiding deep emotional/spiritual things to close male friends
  • a man hugging me or touching me in a sensual way
  • hearing a godly pastor preach or a godly Bible teacher teach or pray and developing an emotional/spiritual/physical fascination or attraction to him
  • insecurity, self-loathing (trying to find our self worth in something other than Christ, listening to the enemy’s lies and refusing to hear God’s truth about who we are in Jesus)
  • being treated by my husband in a way that reminds me of being abused/mistreated by my father/step-father as a child
  • seeing strong, godly leadership qualities in another man
  • focusing on the unbiblical ways my parents handled situations and feeling that what they did was “normal”
  • not being careful about guarding my heart, mind, chastity and marriage
  • not setting proper boundaries with other men, allowing myself to become emotionally/spiritually attached to another man
  • having a controlling mother or mother-in-law
  • when people are angry with me
  • being too busy
  • rushing
  • rehearsing someone’s sin against me over and over again from the past
  • hearing gossip
  • watching scary things on the news
  • spending a lot of time around unbelievers and allowing them to influence me
  • disagreeing with my husband
  • when my husband allows others to treat me with disrespect
  • strong emotions

 

You may be able to add to the list. I am sure it is not remotely exhaustive. I think this is a very important first step as we learn to take our thoughts captive. We must be able to discern the things that trigger us to begin thinking sinful thoughts. Then, we can pray and guard ourselves against them and seek God’s wisdom and His power to help us to face our temptations. We cannot always eliminate the temptations. A lot of these things are not things we can completely get rid of in our lives. But, we can be AWARE of these issues and how the enemy would like to use these situations in our lives. And we can begin to examine our thoughts immediately and reject sinful thoughts and consciously replace ungodly thoughts with truth from God’s Word. We can immediately reject the sinful ways of thinking and choose to thank God, focus on good things, focus on praising God, focus on repenting of our own sin, etc…

The sooner we nip those sinful thoughts by God’s power working in us, the less dominion and control sin will have over us. If we are not thinking sinful thoughts, we are not going to say sinful words or commit sinful actions. Our thoughts are where evil desires begin and then they take root and grow from there. (James 1:14-15)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… II Corinthians 10:3-5

 

 

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