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Our Thoughts May Also Be Sins

Have you ever considered your thought life? Thomas Goodwin explains how our thoughts become our enemies:

O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you? (Jeremiah 4:14 ESV)

And because this is the sense I chiefly must insist on in handling the vanity of the thoughts, and also men usually think that thoughts are free, I will therefore prove this to you, which is the only doctrine raised, that thoughts are sins. . . .

They are to be repented of; yea, repentance is expressed as to begin at them: so, Isa. lv. 7, ‘Let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts.’ And a man is never truly and thoroughly wrought on, as 2 Cor, x. 4, 6, till ‘every thought be brought into obedience;’ which argues that they are naturally rebellious, and contrary to grace. And this also argues the power of grace, which is able to rule and to subdue so great an army as our thoughts are, and command them all, as one day it will do, when we are perfectly holy.

They defile the man; which nothing defiles but sin: Matt. xv. 18, 19, ‘Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts; these defile the man.’ They are an abomination to the Lord, who hates nothing but sin, and whose ‘pure eyes can endure to behold no iniquity,’ Hab. i. 13. As good meditations are acceptable, Ps. xix. 14, so, by the rule of contrary, bad are abominable.

They hinder all good we should do, and spoil our best performances. Vain thoughts draw the heart away in them, that when a man should draw nigh to God, his heart, by reason of his thoughts, is ‘far off from him,’ Isa. xxix. 13. A man’s heart goes after his covetousness, when he should hear, as the prophet speaks, because his thoughts thus run. Now, nothing else but sin could separate; and what doth estrange us from God is sin, and enmity to him.

Our thoughts are the first motioners of all the evil in us. For they make the motion, and also bring the heart and object together, are panders to our lusts, hold up the object till the heart hath played the adulterer with it, and committed folly: so in speculative uncleanness, and in other lusts, they hold up the images of those gods they create, which the heart falls down and worships; they present credit, riches, beauty, till the heart hath worshipped them, and this when the things themselves are absent.

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