Perhaps one of the most ominous verses in the Bible is found in Proverbs.
As [a man] thinks within himself, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).
We like to think that we're pretty good people, at least much of the time. We aren't stealing, murdering, committing adultery ... you know, doing a lot of bad things. Oh, sure, we may think about that stuff, but that's just in the privacy of our own minds. We never act on any of it. On the light side, there's the mental response you have to the guy who cut you off on the freeway that never gets expressed. On the heavier side is the secret time you spend fantasizing in porn that never gets expressed. It's all just mental, fantasy, private, unreal. Sure, it's not good, but it's not really that bad either, is it? I mean, you're not actually acting on any of it. Isn't that self-control?
Solomon said that you are what you think. Jesus said similar things. Adultery is sex between someone who is married and someone to whom they are not married. Jesus said it also was the desire to do so (Matthew 5:27-28). Murder is the malicious termination of the life of another human being. Jesus said it was also the desire to do so (Matthew 5:21-22). As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
That's a bit disturbing. I know I take comfort in knowing that most of the things I think about that are bad never make it past the brain. They're stopped right there. Self-control. And that's why this text is so ominous. It means that my self-control needs to start a lot earlier ... in my thinking. Because if what I think about is what I am, then it's not good; not good at all.
If you think "good enough" means "I may think about it, but as long as I don't do it, it's good enough", you'd better think again. I suppose that's why it is necessary to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
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