Tool Series #2: Re-Framing, dealing with offending thoughts

Tool Series #2:  Re-Framing, dealing with offending thoughts

In our last article in the “Tool Series” we talked about the need to retrain the mind and what a wonderful exercise the three second rule is to accomplish this task. The rule challenges us that God constructed our minds with such wisdom that we can choose a pure thought life. However, what we did not explain is exactly HOW to deal with impure thoughts. That’s where re-framing comes in and this tool works seamlessly in conjunction with the three second rule. Here is how it works.

Most pictures have a frame around them. The frame not only protects the image but presents it in a pleasing and attractive manner. Temptation, likewise, comes with a seductive presentation compelling us towards instant-gratification. It’s message is, “This will feel good and you can have it now.” or “You will experience ecstasy and fulfillment beyond imagination.” Left unchallenged, this enticement will lead the soul straight into the seductress’ trap, like a moth to flame, fish to lure, man to lust. In re-framing we remove the attractive nature of temptation by following the thought through to it’s worst possible consequence or changing the thought into a distasteful image. Consider for a moment how the Proverbs re-frame the adulteress lie.

For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,and her speech is smoother than oil;but in the end she is bitter as gall,sharp as a double-edged sword.Her feet go down to death;her steps lead straight to the grave. Proverbs 5:3-5

We can see how instant gratification lips that drip honey, speech smoother than oil is re-framed into the worst possible consequences bitter as gall, sharp as a sword and steps that lead to hell.

To re-frame a temptation means to completely transform the way you view the thought, from an alluring image to the worst possible scenario for that fantasy. This will begin the process of learning to hate the very sin that has dominated your thinking for a long time.

Now I will give you a good example of how to use the re-framing tool to use in conjunction with the three second rule. You see a very attractive person walking down the street. They are dressed in extremely provocative clothing. Your heart jumps at the image and your thoughts begin to race. A little thought whispers to you “remember the 3 second rule and re-frame.” So you bounce your eyes off the image and begin to think about a graveyard full of corpses. In one of those caskets is this attractive person. However, they are no longer attractive, but old, dead and rotting. You remember the Scripture that says “all men are like grass” and that very soon this attractive person will, in reality, be a rotting corpse.

Another way to re-frame is to follow a temptation through to its worst possible consequence. For example, everyone goes to bed and you are up alone when the TV plays an advertisement for a steamy show about to air. A rush of lust swells up in your heart at the thought of the seductive images you could see. Instead, you choose to remember how bad you felt last time you did that. You begin to think about how your spouse had caught you in the act and how badly it hurt them. You remember how terrible you felt the next day and how you told the Lord you would not do it again. So, you get up quickly, shut off the TV, tell your spouse what happened and that you will not stay up to watch TV after others go to bed. These are much better choices.Any fantasy that you used to entertain to further your sexual stimulation can be re-framed in this manner. All you have to do is change the culmination of instant gratification in that fantasy into something repulsive. Dwell on this thought instead of the lustful one and you will learn to hate the sin that captured your life for a long, long time!

Hatred for Sin
One of the great benefits of re-framing is that over time, it teaches us to hate our sin. A change happens within the mind and the heart. We no longer associate sensual imagery or lustful thinking with pleasure, but pain. Instead of something to be desired, it becomes something to be abhorred. Neither is it rocket science to know we avoid the things we hate. This takes some practice to develop and master to that extent, but it really does work.

Use Your Creativity
Use your creativity to come up with new and potent re-framing thoughts. What works for one person may not be a deterrent to another. Good re-framing thoughts should bring a strong and instant restraining reaction.. Re-framing thoughts can become stale and may need to be freshened occasionally buy using your creativity. With creativity voluptuous breast become cow utters, the babe in the g-string bikini becomes a sumo wrestler, the air brushed model develops rotten teeth and a bad odor, the xxx website become a portal into hell and so on. Over time and with much practice, this mental exercise becomes embedded and becomes as sharp as a reflex.

Finally, use re-framing to deal with negative thoughts about yourself or others. Instead of using distasteful images or consequences, change thoughts into positives. Remember negative thoughts are just as dangerous and destructive as lustful ones. Negativity throws us off balance with depression, anger, self-pity and weakens us. Our enemies (world, flesh, demons) then throw powerful lustful temptations at us. Through practice you can become a grateful and upbeat person who looks for the good in others and yourself.

Take some time this week and begin to practice this powerful weapon in the battle for purity. On bended knee, ask our Lord Jesus to help you develop a pure thought life and to hate sin just as he does. Ask Him to help you see through the lies and to replace lust with love for others.

In our next “Tool Series” article, we will be discussing the importance of gratitude and how to start a gratitude list.