Summary: “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.”(Proverbs 4:23 NCV)
Every words that comes out of our mouth comes from a thought - whether consciously or unconsciously.Fleeting thoughts could determine the quality of our life. We can choose our thoughts and we don’t have to just think about whatever falls into our mind. Proverbs 4:23 NIV says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In the Bible “heart” denotes the inner man, his thoughts, his will, his inclinations, and his affections; or the human soul with its faculties and operations. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” It is deceitful with relation to God, It is deceitful with respect to other men, and it is deceitful with regard to ourselves; and our desires often deceive us, pervert our judgment, and impose upon our reason.
Now God is concerned about the hidden man of the heart, which is our inner life. The way we think determines how we live and who we are. That’s why we need to think about what we’re thinking about. In Genesis 6:5 we learn that God looked down upon the world in Noah’s day and saw that men were thoroughly wicked. God determined to judge the human race with a catastrophic flood, because mankind was wicked to the core.”How did that happen? When God made the first man, Adam, He made him after His image and after His likeness and made him “very good” (Genesis 1:31). But Adam sinned. That sin passed down from Adam to all mankind. Man became totally corrupt and wicked. The perfect man that God had created became a bankrupt sinner. “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). The word "imagination" means "that which is formed in a man’s mind, a thought, purpose, desire." Sin always begins in the mind. “As he (a person) thinks in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7) Sinful men formed sinful thoughts (Genesis 6:5) Everything we thinks, says, and does - even our kindness, morality, and religion - are dead works, evil deeds, and fruit unto death (see Psa. 14:2-3; Prov. 4:19; 10:16,32; 12:5,10; 15:8,9,26,28; 21:4,10,27; Isa. 45:20; 64:6; Mat. 7:18; John 3:19-20; Rom. 1:20-32; 3:9-18; 7:5; 8:5-8; 10:2-3; 1Co.2:14; 2Co. 4:3-4; Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:21). The source of every evil, the secret of all felicity, is not touched until the heart is reached and scrutinized.
The first and most important step in seeking a cure is an accurate diagnosis of the problem. If you do not understand the problem, you will not seek the right cure. That is true not only physically but also spiritually. In Matthew 15 Jesus teaches a vital lesson in spiritual diagnosis. What He says is fundamental to living a godly life. He exposes the superficiality of Pharisaical religion by putting His finger on the source of all our sinful behaviors. It is not what goes into a person that defiles him. It is what comes out of him — the corrupted streams that flow from a corrupted heart. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Matthew 15: 19–20). As has been well said, the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. In Scripture, the heart is the seat of indwelling sin as well as its subject. It is from the heart that indwelling sin springs in a person’s experience. Indeed, sin has invaded as an enemy and now possesses the very throne of God himself. The scripture indicates that the seat of indwelling sin is the heart (Mark 7:21-23; Gen 6:5; Luke 6:45). Our sins do not make us sinful. Rather, we commit sins because, at the very center of our lives, we are sinful. Sin has invaded the inner recesses of our personalities.
The Bible tells us that the heart is deceitful and unsearchable to any but God alone (Jer. 17:9). And in this unsearchable heart dwells the law of sin. Knowing that indwelling sin occupies a heart that is deceitful and unsearchable should make us extremely cautious. Sin is hostile to God and cannot submit to His law (Rom. 8:7). Jesus said, “That which proceeds out of the man that is what defiles the man…….” (Mark 7:20-23). No one commits this outward sin without first having committed them in their mind. If we want to grow in godliness, we must win the battle over sin on the thought level because 'Sin' is primarily self-centeredness. For God's two great commandments are first that we love him with all our hearts and secondly that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Sin, then, is the reversal of this order. It is to put ourselves first, virtually proclaiming our own autonomy, our neighbor next when it suits our convenience, and God somewhere in the background. Self-centredness is a world-wide phenomenon of human experience is evident from the rich variety of words in our language which are compounded with 'self'. There are more than 50 which have a pejorative meaning—words like self-applause, self-absorption, self-assertion, self-advertisement, self-indulgence, self-gratification, self-glorification, self-pity, self-importance, self-interest and self-will etc. Our self-centeredness is a terrible tyranny.