Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2


Section 14—Thoughts and Their Influences

Chapter 72—Thought Habits

Thoughts Form Character—As a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Many thoughts make up the unwritten history of a single day, and these thoughts have much to do with the formation of character. Our thoughts are to be strictly guarded, for one impure thought makes a deep impression on the soul. An evil thought leaves an evil impress on the mind. If the thoughts are pure and holy, the man is better for having cherished them. By them the spiritual pulse is quickened and the power for doing good is increased. And as one drop of rain prepares the way for another in moistening the earth, so one good thought prepares the way for another.—The Youth's Instructor, January 17, 1901. (Messages to Young People, 144.) 2MCP 655.1

Power to Choose Thought Topics—It is within the power of everyone to choose the topics that shall occupy the thoughts and shape the character.—Education, 127 (1903). 2MCP 655.2

Requires Personal Effort—No one but yourself can control your thoughts. In the struggle to reach the highest standard, success or failure will depend much upon the character and the manner in which the thoughts are disciplined. If the thoughts are well girded, as God directs they shall be each day, they will be upon those subjects that will help us to greater devotion. If the thoughts are right, then as a result the words will be right; the actions will be of that character to bring gladness and comfort and rest to souls.—Letter 33, 1886. (Our High Calling, 112.) 2MCP 655.3

Thoughts to Be Trained—The thoughts must be trained. Gird up the loins of the mind that it shall work in the right direction and after the order of well-formed plans; then every step is one in advance, and no effort or time is lost in following vague ideas and random plans. We must consider the aim and object of life, and ever keep worthy purposes in view. Every day the thoughts should be trained and kept to the point as the compass to the pole. Everyone should have his aims and purposes, and then make every thought and action of that character to accomplish that which he purposes. The thoughts must be controlled. There must be a fixedness of purpose to carry out that which you shall undertake.—Letter 33, 1886. (Our High Calling, 112.) 2MCP 656.1

Training the Thoughts—The actual discipline of life is made up of the little things. The training of the thoughts is essential.—Manuscript 76, 1900. 2MCP 656.2

The training of the heart, the control of the thoughts, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, will give control of the words. This is true wisdom, and will ensure quietness of mind, contentment and peace. There will be joy in the contemplation of the riches of the grace of God.—Letter 10, 1894. 2MCP 656.3

Right Thoughts Do Not Come Naturally—There is earnest work before each one of us. Right thoughts, pure and holy purposes, do not come to us naturally. We shall have to strive for them.—The Review and Herald, November 28, 1899. 2MCP 656.4

Captive Thoughts—If the life is given into its control, the power of the truth is unlimited. The thoughts are brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. From the treasure of the heart are brought forth appropriate and fitting words. Especially should our words be guarded. Writing to Timothy, Paul says, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (2 Timothy 1:13, 14).—Manuscript 130, 1897. 2MCP 656.5

Mind Must Be Firmly Controlled—The youth should begin early to cultivate correct habits of thought. We should discipline the mind to think in a healthful channel and not permit it to dwell upon things that are evil. The psalmist exclaims, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). 2MCP 657.1

As God works upon the heart by His Holy Spirit, man must cooperate with Him. The thoughts must be bound about, restricted, withdrawn from branching out and contemplating things that will only weaken and defile the soul. The thoughts must be pure, the meditations of the heart must be clean, if the words of the mouth are to be words acceptable to Heaven and helpful to your associates. 2MCP 657.2

Christ said to the Pharisees, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34, 35).—RH, June 12, 1888. 2MCP 657.3

Overt Sin Manifests Latent Thoughts—The season of temptation, under which, it may be, one falls into grievous sin, does not create the evil that is revealed but only develops or makes manifest that which was hidden and latent in the heart. As a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he”; for out of the heart “are the issues of life” (Proverbs 23:7; 4:23).—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 60 (1896). 2MCP 657.4

Obligation to Control Thoughts—In the Sermon on the Mount Christ presented before His disciples the far-reaching principles of the law of God. He taught His hearers that the law was transgressed by the thoughts before the evil desire was carried out in actual commission. We are under obligation to control our thoughts and to bring them into subjection to the law of God. The noble powers of the mind have been given to us by the Lord that we may employ them in contemplating heavenly things. God has made abundant provision that the soul may make continual progression in the divine life. He has placed on every hand agencies to aid our development in knowledge and virtue.—The Review and Herald, June 12, 1888. 2MCP 658.1

Natural Untrained Mind Acts Without High Motives—The natural, selfish mind, if left to follow out its own evil desires, will act without high motives, without reference to the glory of God or the benefit of mankind. The thoughts will be evil, and only evil, continually.... The Spirit of God produces a new life in the soul, bringing the thoughts and desires into obedience to the will of Christ.—The Review and Herald, June 12, 1888. (Our High Calling, 113.) 2MCP 658.2

Adversary Cannot Read Thoughts—The adversary of souls is not permitted to read the thoughts of men; but he is a keen observer, and he marks the words; he takes account of actions, and skillfully adapts his temptations to meet the cases of those who place themselves in his power. If we would labor to repress sinful thoughts and feelings, giving them no expression in words or actions, Satan would be defeated; for he could not prepare his specious temptations to meet the case. But how often do professed Christians, by their lack of self-control, open the door to the adversary of souls!—The Review and Herald, March 22, 1887. (Selected Messages 1:122, 123.) 2MCP 658.3

Many Troubled by Evil Thoughts—There are many who are really troubled because low, debasing thoughts come into the mind and are not easily banished. Satan has his evil angels around us, and though they cannot read men's thoughts, they closely watch their words and actions. Satan takes advantage of the weaknesses and defects of character that are thus revealed and presses his temptations where there is the least power of resistance. He makes evil suggestions and inspires worldly thoughts, knowing that he can thus bring the soul into condemnation and bondage. To those who are selfish, worldly, avaricious, proud, faultfinding, or given to detraction—to all who are cherishing errors and defects of character—Satan presents the indulgence of self and leads the soul off upon a track that the Bible condemns, but which he makes appear attractive. 2MCP 658.4

For every class of temptations there is a remedy. We are not left to ourselves to fight the battle against self and our sinful natures in our own finite strength. Jesus is a mighty helper; a never-failing support.... The mind must be restrained and not allowed to wander. It should be trained to dwell upon the Scriptures and upon noble, elevating themes. Portions of Scripture, even whole chapters, may be committed to memory, to be repeated when Satan comes in with his temptations.... When Satan would lead the mind to dwell upon earthly and sensual things, he is most effectually resisted with, “It is written.”—The Review and Herald, April 8, 1884. 2MCP 659.1

The Only Security Is Right Thinking—We need a constant sense of the ennobling power of pure thoughts and the damaging influence of evil thoughts. Let us place our thoughts upon holy things. Let them be pure and true, for the only security for any soul is right thinking. We are to use every means that God has placed within our reach for the government and cultivation of our thoughts. We are to bring our minds into harmony with His mind. His truth will sanctify us, body and soul and spirit.—Letter 123, 1904. 2MCP 659.2

Dwelling on Frivolous Things—We should endeavor to have our minds in that condition where we can receive the impressions of the Holy Spirit. But they cannot receive increased light who allow their thoughts to run constantly upon frivolous things. The mind should be stored with heavenly treasure, with food that will enable us to grow spiritually, and thus prepare us for a holy heaven.—Manuscript 51, 1912. (Our High Calling, 284.) 2MCP 660.1

Provision Made to Elevate Thoughts—God has made every provision whereby our thoughts may become purified, elevated, refined, and ennobled. He has not only promised to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but He has made an actual provision for the supply of grace that will lift our thoughts toward Him and enable us to appreciate His holiness. We may realize that we are Christ's possession and that we are to manifest His character to the world. Prepared by heavenly grace, we become clothed with the righteousness of Christ, in the wedding garment, and are fitted to sit down at the marriage supper. We become one with Christ, partakers of the divine nature, purified, refined, elevated, and acknowledged to be the children of God—heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.—The Youth's Instructor, October 28, 1897. 2MCP 660.2

Keep Off Satan's Enchanted Ground (counsel to a self-centered family)—You should keep off from Satan's enchanted ground and not allow your minds to be swayed from allegiance to God. Through Christ you may and should be happy and should acquire habits of self-control. Even your thoughts must be brought into subjection to the will of God and your feelings under the control of reason and religion. Your imagination was not given you to be allowed to run riot and have its own way without any effort at restraint or discipline. 2MCP 660.3

If the thoughts are wrong, the feelings will be wrong, and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character. When you decide that as Christians you are not required to restrain your thoughts and feelings, you are brought under the influence of evil angels and invite their presence and their control. If you yield to your impressions and allow your thoughts to run in a channel of suspicion, doubt, and repining, you will be among the most unhappy of mortals, and your lives will prove a failure.—Testimonies for the Church 5:310 (1885). 2MCP 660.4

Counsel to a Young Woman Regarding the Dangers of Castle-building—You should control your thoughts. This will not be an easy task; you cannot accomplish it without close and even severe effort. Yet God requires this of you; it is a duty resting upon every accountable being. You are responsible to God for your thoughts. If you indulge in vain imaginations, permitting your mind to dwell upon impure subjects, you are, in a degree, as guilty before God as if your thoughts were carried into action. All that prevents the action is the lack of opportunity. 2MCP 661.1

Day and night dreaming and castle-building are bad and exceedingly dangerous habits. When once established, it is next to impossible to break up such habits and direct the thoughts to pure, holy, elevated themes. You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul. The power of grace alone can accomplish this most desirable work. You are weak in this direction.—Testimonies for the Church 2:561 (1870). 2MCP 661.2

Crowd Out the Evil With Good—Parents can choose, if they will, whether or not their children's minds shall be filled with pure and holy thoughts and sentiments, but their tastes must be disciplined and educated with the greatest care. They must commence early to unfold the Scriptures before the expanding minds of their children that proper habits and tastes may be formed.... The elements of evil cannot be exterminated except by the introduction of food for pure, solid thought.—The Review and Herald, November 9, 1886. (Our High Calling, 202.) 2MCP 661.3

Avoid Negative Thinking—As we are not our own, as we are bought with a price, it is the duty of everyone who professes to be a Christian to keep his thoughts under the control of reason and oblige himself to be cheerful and happy. However bitter may be the cause of his grief, he should cultivate a spirit of rest and quietude in God. The restfulness which is in Christ Jesus, the peace of Christ, how precious, how healing its influence, how soothing to the oppressed soul! However dark his prospects, let him cherish a spirit to hope for good. While nothing is gained by despondency, much is lost. While cheerfulness and a calm resignation and peace will make others happy and healthy, it will be of the greatest benefit to oneself. Sadness and talking of disagreeable things is encouraging the disagreeable scenes, bringing back upon oneself the disagreeable effect. God wants us to forget all these—not look down but up, up!—Letter 1, 1883. 2MCP 662.1

Peril of Dwelling on Earthly Things—If your thoughts, your plans, your purposes, are all directed toward the accumulation of the things of earth, your anxiety, your study, your interests, will all be centered upon the world. The heavenly attractions will lose their beauty.... Your heart will be with your treasure.... You will have no time to devote to the study of the Scriptures and to earnest prayer that you may escape the snares of Satan.—The Review and Herald, September 1, 1910. (Our High Calling, 200.) 2MCP 662.2

Changing the Thought Pattern—When the mind has been long permitted to dwell only on earthly things, it is a difficult matter to change the habits of thought. That which the eye sees and the ear hears too often attracts the attention and absorbs the interest. But if we would enter the city of God and look upon Jesus and His glory, we must become accustomed to beholding Him with the eye of faith here. The words and the character of Christ should be often the subject of our thoughts and of our conversation, and each day some time should be especially devoted to prayerful meditation upon these sacred themes.—The Review and Herald, May 3, 1881. (The Sanctified Life, 91, 92.) 2MCP 662.3

A Higher Grade of Thought—Man has revolted from God and has ever since endeavored to make his scheme of doing as he pleased a success in securing happiness. But whenever he has sought to fill his mind with any other object than God, he has been disappointed. There must be an altogether higher grade of thought, an altogether higher class of studies, and higher objects for you to seek to obtain than you have had in the past. The disorders and imperfections of human words and human characters can be restored only by the Lord Jesus Christ. He, then, should be the object of your contemplation, the theme of your conversation. You must have an altogether higher exercise of thought and action if you would understand the great plan of redemption.—Manuscript 13, 1897. 2MCP 663.1

Law of Thoughts and Feelings—It is a law of nature that our thoughts and feelings are encouraged and strengthened as we give them utterance. While words express thoughts, it is also true that thoughts follow words.—The Ministry of Healing, 251, 252 (1905). 2MCP 663.2

Toward Completeness of Character—A Christian life will be revealed by Christian thoughts, Christian words, and Christian deportment. In Christ there is a divine completeness of character.—Letter 13a, 1879. (Our High Calling, 184.) 2MCP 663.3

A New Endowment of Power—Those who consecrate soul, body, and spirit to God, purifying their thoughts by obedience to the law of God, will continually receive a new endowment of physical and mental power. There will be heart yearnings after God and earnest prayer for clear perception to discern the office and work of the Holy Spirit. It is not for us to use it, but for the Holy Spirit to use us, molding, fashioning every power.—Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work, 106. (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 40.) 2MCP 663.4