By Evangelist B. N. Wire
What Are Differences Between Evil Thoughts And Thoughts of Evil?
Oh, the shameful defeats that the tempter has wrought upon so many dear people because they have lacked ability to make the delicate differentiation between evil thoughts and thoughts of evil. No doubt all of us have sometimes experienced bondage and condemnation because of failure to make proper distinction here. Once again it was more our doubting and questioning the purity of our hearts that had defeated us than it was that we really had evil thoughts. We have fallen into condemnation more for doubting and listening to the accusations of Satan than for professing what we did not possess.
Jesus said, "From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts and defile the man." Mark 7:21. Evil thoughts indicate an evil and corrupt heart for they can only spring from an impure fountain. "As a man thinketh (meditateth) in his heart, so is he." Prov. 23:7. We cannot prevent thoughts of evil in the head but we can have a pure affectionate nature that repulses and refuses to give these thoughts any place in our meditations.
"The sin of thought is just as open to God as the sin of word or deed and just as certainly needs to be repented of and forgiven," says Rev. C. W. Ruth. "Repent therefore, of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." Acts 8:22. An evil heart is the generator of evil thoughts and deeds, and the basic cause of almost all of the horrible crimes of humanity. "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." Genesis 6 5.
Thoughts Of Evil
Thoughts of the evils of sin and its blight and curse upon mankind is ever before the eyes of one who is holy, becoming one of his strongest motivating powers to hate evil and save men out of it at any cost. The more holy one becomes the more will he be painfully conscious of the presence of evil within and without the church. He will think of evil more than the unholy, but he will thhlk of it with utter abhorrence.
But, you say, that is not my problem. I am harassed by the returning suggestions of evil thoughts and habits practiced while in sin. Well, dear heart, it is the portion of every Christian who in youth sowed his wild oats and stained his soul, mind and body with low thinking and living, to suffer frequent depressions because of the memory of the old sins which have left their scars upon his body and mind. Yes, God will forgive and sanctify, but sin will leave its marks and scars upon human bodies and lives until the resurrection morning. It's so much better to be saved from sin than out of it. Once the life is stained and blighted, that soul can never he what it would have been had it never been stained.
No matter how holy the soul becomes there may be times when he will find himself Prometheus-like bound to some cold summit of an evil past while the vulture of some youthful lust returns with cruel beak and claw to pick and tear at his bleeding heart. He must reap some of the consequences of sin here and now even if it has been covered by the blood of Christ.
This old world is no friend to pure and beautiful thinking and refuses to let us forget the old and wrong habits of thinking and living. There are suggestions on every side to encourage evil thinking. We cannot escape these suggestions that force us at times to think of evil and thinking of evil often depresses the spirit, but we can keep these thoughts of evil from becoming evil thoughts.
Rev. C. W. Ruth has said, "Thoughts of evil are suggested from without and to the pure soul are always repugnant and offensive." We cannot help thinking of the evil we see and hear anymore than we can help the airplanes from flying over our property or the birds over our heads. Neither can we keep the dogs from running through our yards and across our front porches, but we can keep the house closed and the door barred against the intruders. The all important thing is to have no place or inclination within the heart to entertain thoughts of evil.
If a thought of evil is entertained it becomes an evil thought and this denotes a dirty heart. Thoughts of evil are never evil thoughts until we allow them a place in our meditations. If we find within. something that takes pleasure in the imagination of suggested evil, we can be assured that we have a carnal heart. If we allow our minds to feast upon and entertain thoughts of evil we are corrupted by evil thinking which involves the heart life and leaves us condemned before God as sinners. Yielding to or entertaining thoughts of evil makes them evil thoughts.