In the journey of faith, one common question believers wrestle with is how to discern whether the thoughts in their minds are their own, influenced by God, or influenced by spiritual adversaries. This question touches the core of spiritual growth and understanding. The fundamental principle to remember is that our thoughts are always our own.

We are free-will agents with the capacity to choose and decide. However, our thoughts can be heavily influenced by God, who desires our growth and well-being, or by spiritual adversaries aiming to derail us from our spiritual path. Here’s some guidance on how to navigate this complex discernment process, empowering you to take control of your spiritual journey.

Assessing for Affirmation

The first criterion to consider is whether the thought is affirming. When examining your thoughts, ask yourself:

  • Does this thought strengthen my faith and resolve?
  • Does it encourage me to keep going, even in the face of adversity
  • Does it bring comfort to my soul, providing peace and reassurance?

If a thought leaves you feeling uplifted, motivated and comforted, such as ‘I am loved and cherished by God ‘, it is more likely aligned with God’s influence. Conversely, if a thought induces fear, discouragement, or confusion, such as ‘I am worthless and God doesn’t care about me ‘, it might be worth scrutinizing its origin further as it could be influenced by spiritual adversaries.

Evaluating Biblical Consistency

The second criterion is whether the thought is consistent with the broad teaching and witness of Scripture. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Here are some questions to guide you:

  • Is this thought in harmony with the principles and teachings of the Bible?
  • Does it reflect the character of God as revealed in Scripture?
  • Would it withstand the scrutiny of biblical truths and doctrines?

It’s essential to be well-acquainted with Scripture to ensure your thoughts are biblically sound. Regular Bible study and meditation on God’s Word equip you to discern thoughts more accurately. If a thought contradicts biblical teaching or leads you away from Scriptural truths, it is not from God.

Reflecting Christ’s Nature

The third criterion is whether the thought is Christlike. Jesus Christ is the ultimate model for our thoughts and actions. To assess this, consider:

  • Does this thought reflect the nature and character of Jesus?
  • Is it the kind of thing Jesus would say?
  • Does it embody the love, grace, and truth that Jesus exemplified?

Christlike thoughts align with Jesus’ teachings and demeanor. They are filled with love, compassion, humility, and a desire to glorify God. If a thought promotes selfishness, pride, or harm, it is not Christlike and should be questioned.

Lean Not on Your Own Understanding

In discerning our thoughts, it’s crucial to remember the wisdom of Proverbs 3:5-6: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding ‘, which means not relying solely on our own limited and often flawed understanding. ‘In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ This passage reminds us that we align ourselves with his perfect wisdom and direction by relying on God’s guidance and the above discernment principles.

Practical Application

When you find yourself grappling with a particular thought, take a moment to apply these three criteria: affirming, biblical, and Christlike. Here’s a practical way to do this:

  1. Pause and Reflect. Take a step back and create a moment of quiet reflection.
  2. Assess the Thought. Use the criteria above to evaluate the thought.
  3. Seek Confirmation. Pray and ask for God’s guidance. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Sometimes, discussing your thoughts with a trusted spiritual mentor can provide additional clarity, offering you the support and guidance you need.
  4. Act in Faith. Once you’ve discerned the nature of the thought, act accordingly, trusting in God’s guidance and your discernment process.


Discerning whether our thoughts are our own, influenced by God, or influenced by spiritual adversaries is a vital skill in the life of a believer. By using affirming, biblical, and Christlike criteria, we can navigate our thoughts more effectively. Remember, while our thoughts are always our own, we can choose the influences we allow to shape them. Embrace God’s guidance, stand firm in Scripture, and model your thoughts after Christ. This path leads to spiritual maturity and a deeper relationship with God. And through it all, lean not on your understanding but trust in God to guide your ways.