Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Thoughts of a Man. . .

Genesis 6:5
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.

The thoughts of man, our greatest blessing. . . our greatest stumbling block. When Adam and Eve left the garden they were dressed in the skins of animals. They had nothing in the way of tools and implements to use in their daily life. It is not recorded that God gave them knives or hammers or wheels for their carts. Through their own inventiveness and creativity, from the thoughts of their minds they had to come up with ways to subdue the land, to process the abundance of the world around them for their daily needs. From that humble beginning each generation has built upon the foundation laid by those who have gone before them until today a single man using the tools available to him can accomplish tasks that would have taken entire villages of men without modern tools. Our productivity increases and increases beyond imagination, but unfortunately so has our ability to commit evil likewise increased.

Bondage and evil come in many forms. Already popular in Europe, soon coming to America ~ streaming pornography on our cell phones. We have modern drugs that can enslave one from almost the first use. We kill babies by the tens of millions. In our public schools we teach our children that perversion is an acceptable choice in life. As a society we Americans have as among our greatest health problems issues arising from gluttony and over consumption while much of the world goes to bed hungry each night.

Our thoughts can be our great blessing or our great stumbling block. We must gain control of our thoughts:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

This must be an unending process, a continuing spiritual battle. Until my last breath I believe that I will need to be on guard for thoughts that will tempt me and try to lead me astray. I thought it would be interesting to look at thoughts of men and women in the Bible which proved to be stumbling blocks for them. It is always good to take lessons from those who have gone before that we might profit from their misfortune and avoid the same mistakes in our own lives.

Genesis 6:5-6
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. (6) And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

This is the first usage of the word 'thought' in the Bible. It concerns the evil thoughts and black heart of man and the sorrow filled thoughts and breaking heart of God. The thoughts of man grew so evil so much of the time that God was sorry of His creation of man. . . What a depth of feeling. . . My children have disappointed me. . . I surely have disappointed my parents. That is an inherent part of creation to be disappointed and let down by your creation but as a parent to be so disappointed in your offspring that you wish they had never existed. . . what black sorrow and bleakness that represents. For God to not merely regret of the creation of man, but to destroy all of mankind, with the exception of Noah's family, in an attempt at a new beginning. . . Oh, the sorrow and pain that must have been in God's grieving heart. . . Yes our thoughts get us into trouble. . .

Genesis 20:11
And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.

Abraham is rightly counted as one of the great pillars of faith in the Bible, but in this chapter of his life Abraham took his focus off of God and filled his mind, his thoughts with the ungodly. He moved his eyes from God to the sinful people who surrounded him. He allowed his awareness of the sinful ungodly nature of the people around him to dictate his actions. Abraham turned to the sin of lying to protect him rather than to depend upon God for his protection. He told what might be by some considered a little white lie, a half truth, a lack of faith.

Abraham like most of us alternated between periods of great faith and acts of unfaithfulness, in this case a lie. In the taking into his own hands the fulfillment of God's promise of a son by conceiving a child with Hagar, Abraham and Sarah caused huge problems that continue even to this day. It is never wise to allow a weed to grow in your garden. The weed itself may be small, but the offspring of it will be many and noxious. The lie about Sarah, the conceiving a child with Hagar were acts of unfaithfulness to God. These acts were born of Abraham's thoughts that did not have God as their focus. The focus was upon fear and desires of his own flesh. We need to develop a spiritual compass by which to evaluate the things which come into our heads. We need to look at each thought, each idea which comes into our awareness and before we admit ownership of it we must look to see which direction the needle of this thought points. If it does not point at God, then we must discard it without regard to how logical or attractive this idea may seem. This is the only sure way of maintaining our righteousness.

Will you tell a lie because the people who you are dealing with will not respect and forgive your admitting the truth? Do you allow the sinfulness of others to dictate your behavior? Do you compromise your standards in the presence of those who do not value holiness? You are on a dangerous road with a destination that you cannot foresee. Any and every road that does not lead to God eventually leads to a place of pain and suffering and death no matter how pleasant the countryside appears at the beginning of the journey. Learn a lesson from Abraham. . .

Genesis 38:15
When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot; because she had covered her face.

Judah saw a woman sitting by the side of the road with her face covered. He mistook her shame to be a shame of her sinfulness as a prostitute. Knowing full well God's prohibitions against adultery, he ignored God's will and sinned (without realizing who she was) with his now widowed daughter-in-law Tamar. His thought of her as a harlot in his mind, and rationalizing this then allowed him to sin with her. In his mind, her perceived sinfulness justified his sinning with her. His devaluation of her led him to devalue himself. Her shame was already his shame. He had neglected and reneged on his duty to provide the seed for an heir for his departed son. This was important in the days of Judah as the land was divided and passed on by the family genealogy and if a widow took a new husband outside of the family of her deceased husband the inheritance of that land would go with her. It was the duty of a family to provide seed from within it's heritage for a widow with no children. Judah had not fulfilled the duty of the family to her. She was not a harlot, but that Judah in a couple different levels of meaning turned her into one. She was originally the honorable one, but through this act both were sullied. . . Judah should have been the one hanging his head in shame and covering his face.

Is it more acceptable in your mind to sin against those outside of the church family? Do you place value on others by their perceived holiness? Would it be more acceptable in your mind to cheat a stripper than to cheat your pastor or another saint in the church? Would there be any less shame and sin involved in that? The genealogy of Jesus passes through the shame of this act:

Matthew 1:3
And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Tamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

The heritage of Jesus was sin. He had no sin, but without sin there was no need for Jesus. Figuratively and literally without sin Jesus would not have been born. . .

Our thoughts. . .get us into so much trouble. It is a war we have with them, a never ending war. They are the source of such great great beauty and incredible blackness. . .It all depends upon their direction. . .

There is surely more to be written upon this. . . to be continued (maybe). . .

Lord, I pray please help me keep my thoughts upon you. . .


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