Evil Thoughts & Wicked Imaginations

I Chronicles 28:9; Ezekiel 11:5; Genesis 6:5
       The LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.
       I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.
      And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Nothing is quite so fallacious as to think of sin only in terms of actions; and as long as we think of sin only in terms of things actually done, we fail to understand it…Thoughts, motives, and desires are equally important―Take that statement: “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,” and so on, Matthew 15:19―Our Lord always includes evil thoughts with murders, and such things as strife, enmity, deceit, and many other things which we do not regard as being such terrible, foul sins.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Our greatest sins are those of the mind.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): As good thoughts and purposes are acts in God’s accounts, so are bad ones.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Peter lays the accent of Magus’s sin on the wicked thought, which his words betrayed to be in his heart: “Pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee,” Acts 8:22.

JOHN ROBINSON (1575-1625): Men judge of our thoughts by our works and actions, but God judges our words and works by our thoughts; accounting the thing whether good, or evil, as done in His sight, if once it be resolved on in the purpose of the heart.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): It is the earnest wish or desire of the soul, which, in a variety of cases, constitutes the good or evil of an act. If a man earnestly wish to commit an evil, but cannot, because God puts time, place, and opportunity out of his power, he is fully chargeable with the iniquity of the act.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): There is such a thing as heart-adultery―adulterous thoughts and dispositions, which never proceed to the act of adultery or fornication.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart, Matthew 5:28. Did not our Lord emphasize that when He said, in effect, “As long as you are not guilty of physical adultery you think you are all right. But I ask, What about your heart? What about your thoughts?”

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): It was not any looking upon a woman, that is forbid by Christ as criminal; but so to look, as “to lust after her.”

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: All vice arises from imagination―a man has neither strength nor opportunity always to act, but he may always think, and imagination can supply the place of action…A man may in complacent thought commit fornication with a woman in Spain, in a covetous thought rob another in the Indies, and in a revengeful thought stab a third in America; and that while he is sitting in a pew. An unclean person may commit a mental folly with every beauty he meets.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is sin in the heart; sin in the mind!

WILLIAM GURNALL: Wanton objects cause wanton thoughts. Job knew his eye and his thoughts were like to go together, and therefore to secure one he covenants with the other, Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Let me say a word about the subtlety of sin…Think of the clever way in which it insinuates itself into the mind. There are highly respectable men and women who would never dream of committing an act of adultery, but look at the way in which they enjoy sinning in the mind and in the imagination.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Let me add this too, that sin in thoughts is more simply sin―outward acts are but the sprouts; the sap and juice lies in the wicked imagination or contrivance, which has the strength in it to produce a thousand fruits [just] as poisonous.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): The sins that do most usually engross and take up our thoughts are,
First, Uncleanness. There is a polluting ourselves by our thoughts, and this sin usually works that way.
Secondly, Revenge. Liquors are soured when long kept; so, when we dwell upon discontents, they turn to revenge. Purposes of revenge are most sweet and pleasant to carnal nature: “Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually,” Proverbs 6:14; that is to say, he is full of revengeful and spiteful thoughts.
Thirdly, Envy. It is a sin that feeds upon the mind. Those songs of the women, that Saul had slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands, they ran in Saul’s mind, therefore he hated David, I Samuel 18:9. Envy is an evil disease that dwelleth in the heart, and betrays itself mostly in thoughts.
Fourthly, Pride. Either pride in the desires or pride in the mind, either vain glory or self conceit; this is entertaining our hearts with whispers of vanity―proud men are full of imaginations.
Fifthly, Covetousness, which is nothing but vain musings and exercises of the heart: “A heart they have exercised with covetous practices,” 2 Peter 2:14. And it withdraws the heart in the very time of God’s worship: “Their heart goeth after their covetousness,” Ezekiel 33:31.
Sixthly, Distrust is another thing which usually takes up our thoughts―distracting motions against God’s providence.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Walk in the company of sinful thoughts all the day, and thou wilt hardly shut the door upon them…Thou hast taught them to be bold; they will now plead acquaintance with thee, and crowd in after thee, like little children who, if you play with them, will cry after you when you would be rid of their company.

C. H. SPURGEON: Certain insects assume the colour of the leaves they feed upon; and they are but emblems of a great law of our being: our minds take the hue of the subjects whereon they think. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, Proverbs 23:7.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: A man once said that the best definition of religion was this: “Religion is that which a man does with his own solitude.” In other words, if you want to know what you really are, you can find the answer when you are alone with your thoughts and desires and imaginations.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): How solemn is this fact: nothing can be concealed from God! “For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.”

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Thy thoughts are vocal to God.


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