This devotional was originally published on July 26, 2018.

When I played football as a kid, our coach would have us sit on the floor in the locker room before games. Our one job during this time was to imagine ourselves running plays perfectly in our minds. He would call a play, and we would run it mentally. He would yell out “Blast!” and I would picture myself creating a hole for the running back as he took a quick handoff from the quarterback. He would yell, “Draw!” and I would picture myself drawing back as if I were going to pass protect, then I would see him handing the ball to a runner instead of passing. I would see myself moving forward quickly to push aside the defensive linemen as our running back headed to score.

My coach believed that we would never be able to run a play on the field successfully if we couldn’t successfully run it in our minds first. I think he was right.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
— Ephesians 4: 22–24

Paul calls a play. He says we are to remove our old self, as in our old way of living, which was corrupt and deceitful, and to put on our new self, which is righteous and holy. But, like my coach, he teaches that there is an important step that has to happen first. We first have to be made new in our minds.

I know we all struggle with sinful actions in our lives. We all have things we do that we don’t want to do. If we want to win against the temptations, we have to beat them before they ever become an action, we have to beat them when they are just thoughts. The battle is won in our mind.

Change your focus. Change your thoughts. Change what consumes your thoughts by meditating on God’s Word, studying Scripture and worshiping. These are all things we can do to win the battle.