Most of us are pretty good at presenting a Christian face to the world. Underneath the façade, though, our thoughts often reveal a different side to our character. Indeed, getting our thought life under control is far more difficult than mastering our outward habits. John Macarthur once wrote, “The sins of our thought life are soul-coloring sins, character-damaging sins.”
What we think about shapes who we become. We can never be joyful followers of Christ if deceit, lust, and conceit cloud our thoughts. The direction of our lives will be determined by what we think about most. A mind saturated by Jesus will yield a life devoted to Him. As appealing as that sounds, the opposite is also true. When our thoughts are on things other than God, the result will be a life that is frustrated, defeated, and ultimately wasted.
It amuses me we seem to think we get away with sinful thoughts. You know, those thoughts that you would never say out loud or do in public? Because we don’t take action on the thoughts, we think we aren’t guilty of them. After all, no one knows about them but us, right? We all know intellectually that God knows and sees everything, but somehow we deny or ignore He sees our thoughts. I know this because if we believed all our thoughts were on display before God, those thoughts would differ from what they are. We would not dare profane His holiness by the wickedness of what we think about.
David knew the truth. When he penned Psalm 139, He said, “You understand my thoughts from far away. . . You are aware of all my ways. . . Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord” (Psalm 139:2-4). The writer of Hebrews writes, “.. all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Hebrews 4:13). Job declared, “Does He not see all my ways and number my steps” (Job 31:4)? Solomon advised, “For a man’s ways are before the LORD’s eyes, and He considers all his paths” (Proverbs 5:21). Isaiah the prophet spoke the words of the Lord: “Knowing their works and their thoughts, I have come to gather all nations and languages; they will come and see My glory” (Isaiah 66:18).
There can be no doubt, the Lord knows what you are thinking and planning. While we may think of our evil thoughts as private sins, they are public to God. If we love the Father, we will be as diligent in crucifying the sins of our thoughts as we are the sins of our hands (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Philippians 4:8). This physical world is temporary, so every physical sin we commit will pass away with time. But the internal sins, the spiritual sins, color our souls and damage our character.
Our so-called “private sins” are more devastating to our relationship with the Father than our public sins. Our thoughts matter. We must constantly guard what we think about and crucify every thought. To live a victorious life that glorifies God, we must attack our thought life with a vengeance and rid our minds of all that grieves our King.