Imagine an actor preparing to perform in a play. She memorizes her lines, gets inside the character’s head, and tries to imagine how this person would feel and act. She rehearses being that person. She thinks intently about doing what that person would do and saying what that person would say exactly the way she would say it. The more she’s rehearsed being that character, the sharper and more “automatic” her performance.
Something similar happens when we fantasize sexually or emotionally about inappropriate or sinful behavior. We are rehearsing when we think about the conversations we would have with a particular man if we were ever alone with him, when we entertain thoughts of an intimate rendezvous, or wish that a certain man would take special notice of us. When we rehearse these scenarios, we imagine what we’ll say and do in these encounters. Then when Satan lays the trap and leads that man your direction, guess what? We are more than likely going to play the part exactly the way we have rehearsed it. When we don’t guard our minds in our relationships with men, we weaken our resistance before any encounter takes place.
But we do have some choice in the matter. We don’t have to be sitting ducks. We can train our minds to mind.
One of my favorite sayings is: “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep him from building a nest in your hair!”
Even though inappropriate thoughts inevitably pop up into every person’s mind, we do not have to entertain them. Such thoughts are not sin, but dwelling on such thoughts is essentially rehearsing for rebellion, and acting on such thoughts is sin. We can’t keep from being tempted, but we can avoid rehearsing, and we can certainly refuse to sin. No temptation becomes sin without our permission.