Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.
- 2 Samuel 12:4 (NIV)
King David had sinned. God sent Nathan to tell David a story and to deal with his sin.
Nathan told David a parable about a rich man who had thousands and thousands of sheep and a poor man who lived nearby. The poor man had only one ewe lamb, and she was like one of his own children to him. The lamb slept in the poor man’s arms and ate from the poor man’s table. He loved her.
One day a traveler came to the rich man’s house. The rich man was too stingy to kill one of his sheep for the traveler, so he stole the poor man’s beloved lamb, killed it, and cooked it to feed the traveler.
Beware of the traveler. When the traveler arrived, trouble began.
The traveler in the story represents our thought life, and the traveler is coming through whether you like it or not. Thoughts are going to knock on your door. Temptations are coming to present themselves. But you don’t have to let them in and you don’t have to feed them.
What caused David, who was so powerful and so anointed, to commit evil acts? It all started with an evil thought. It started when he let the traveler in.
One day when he was at home in the palace he looked out the window and saw a woman bathing. The traveler was stopping by King David’s house and it was a time for him to make a choice. David couldn’t help what he saw, but he could choose how he responded to it.
He could have gotten out his scrolls and read some Scripture.
He could have gotten out his harp and sang a worship song.
He could have done anything to get his mind back where it should have been.
Instead, he did two things he shouldn’t have done. He invited the thought to come in and visit. He kept thinking about the woman. He asked around to find out who she was. He learned her name was Bathsheba and she was married to Uriah.
And it didn’t stop there. He fed the traveler. He sent a messenger to have Bathsheba brought to him. That act eventually led to David’s sin.
It all began with an evil thought that David didn’t control. He never would have guessed how far the traveler would take him. He became a liar, an adulterer, and a murderer.
When he saw her, he should have turned away. It’s not a sin to be tempted. Even Jesus was tempted. But when we open the door and start feeding the tempting thought, it’s going to cause destructive consequences.
Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is when you open the door and let him in.
James 1:14-15 says this:
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Notice the three steps to destruction:
- Desire.Our own desires are at the root of temptation. Where does desire begin? In the mind.
- Sin. Sin is birthed out of evil desires that are not controlled and are allowed to grow.
- Death.When sin is full grown, it brings forth death.
Beware the traveler. Guard your thoughts.
The Bible says to “take your thoughts captive” (2 Cor. 10:5). We must not let the enemy fill our minds with filth and trash. We must take authority over our thoughts. Evil desire begins with evil thoughts, and ends in sin and destruction.
The challenge, friends, is to love God not just with our heart and soul but also with our minds. Do we love Him with our thoughts? The biggest battle we face is not out in the world but between our own two ears. It’s our thoughts that determine victory or defeat in our lives. It’s our thoughts that determine whether we’re pure or impure.
The apostle Paul emphasizes this again in Romans 8:6 (NLT): “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”Will we let our sinful nature control our thoughts? Or will we guard our thoughts and allow the Spirit to control our minds? It’s our choice—death, or life and peace.
When a negative, unholy, damaging thought is in our minds, it must be taken captive to Christ. This means it must be replaced with another thought, one that honors God and builds our spirit rather than our flesh:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
- Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Think on those things. Let’s invite victory into our thoughts. Let’s invite joy and peace into our thoughts. Let’s invite praise and faith into our thoughts. Those are the thoughts that bring our actions into alignment with God’s Word and God’s plan.
God can purify and sanctify our thought lives. He can replace our selfish, negative, tempting thoughts with the mind of Christ. Thank God we don’t have to be a slave to our desires, following a path that leads to sin and destruction. Instead, we can give our thoughts over to the Holy Spirit, and walk on the path to love, peace, and eternal life.