Tool Series #1: The 3 Second Rule, how to retrain your mind.

Tool Series #1:  The 3 Second Rule, how to retrain your mind.

The need to retrain the mind cannot be understated in the fight for freedom from the grip of sexual sin. Pornography and other sexual addictions employ fantasy and imagination to arouse lust. These patterns of thought are well ingrained in the mind. If sustained victory is to be obtained, the mind must be changed from an instrument of lust to an instrument of righteousness. The mind is the place where reason (mind) and volition (the heart) must seize impulse and stop the progression of instant gratification. It is here that we must engage the battle before the thought becomes a desire in the heart. Consider the following tool we teach to abate sin and create new patterns of thinking.

The “3 Second Rule”

The three second rule simply states, “I will not think a sinful thought, a potentially sinful thought or a negative thought about myself or another person for more than three seconds.” Now you may ask, “why three seconds”? Well, it takes a second to realize we are thinking one of these “offending” thoughts, a second to choose what we are going to do with the offender and the third second is for grace, because we do not want to be overly harsh with ourselves.

So to reiterate, within the span of three seconds every human:
1. Has a thought
2. Recognizes the thought and
3. Responds to the thought with further thought, feeling or action

The 3 second rule is based on three Scriptures. The first is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which tells us that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can stand up under and when tempted He will always provide a way of escape. The next verse is Philippians 4:8 which says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praise worthy-think about such things.” Finally, the rule directs us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

Every thought that enters our minds should be filtered through Philippians 4:8. If it does not fit through this filter, then we are presented with a choice, either continue the thought into fantasy and sin or take the thought captive.

The principle of the 3 Second Rule challenges us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5. This is accomplished by first recognizing the thought as sinful or antithetical to God’s will for your life. Secondly, we must resist and/or reject the thought. Finally, we must replace the thought with the truth. When practiced over time this principle will revolutionize a person’s emotions, behavior, and life!

Therefore, when I learned this I made a covenant with God not to entertain any thought for more than 3 seconds that is:
1. Sinful
2. Potentially sinful
3. Negative about myself or another person
4. Non- need satisfying in my life

Another fact that increases the efficacy of this rule is that God made our minds to not be able to process but one thought at a time, which gives us total control over our thoughts. We cannot multi-task our thoughts; we switch back and forth, which is sequential thinking not simultaneous thinking. This characteristic of our minds gives us total control. The principle is that if we do not thin lustful thoughts we will not engage in lustful behavior.

Another helpful fact is that we cannot completely clear our minds; the thought violates the rule so, we must either switch the thought, reframe the thought, or a combination of both.

It should be noted that negative thoughts are as equally dangerous as lustful thoughts. Negativity often precedes sexual temptation. It is in these thoughts that depressing, anxiety, self-pity, anger and many other dark meditations weaken us and leave us more vulnerable to attack. Those who would be free have no such luxury of playing the grouch or the victim. Our thought life, through constant practice, should become bright and full of life. Set your course to be a thankful, grateful and upbeat person. Starting a gratitude list is a great way to develop a grace-filled attitude. We will be discussing this more in a future article.

It can be awkward at first when we begin to scrutinize our thought lives. It is not easy to think about what you are thinking about, but practice makes perfect. Over time, the three second rule can be mastered and a pure thought life established. The transformation extends past the mind and into the heart. Through this process of discipline, we are being faced with the need to constantly deny lustful indulgences, self-pity, depressing and anxiety and set our minds on loving God and others. Will you put the three second rule into practice this week?

In our next article in the “Tool Series” we will discuss how to take offending thoughts captive and teach another transformational life tool called “re-framing”.

We have highly trained coaches standing by to teach you these principles and walk with you every step of the way into lasting freedom.