The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Are thoughts, even indulged thoughts sin?


#1

Throughout my Christian walk, I have always regarded my thoughts as sin, even sometimes the temptation itself and agreeing with it was a sin. I have come to believe that the line is a bit more blurred. For example, if a thought wasn’t tempting nor enticing to us, then it wouldn’t be temptation, would it? It would simply be a thought, that would be easily dismissed.

Now, I totally understand that a thought indulged in could in theory lead to a physical acts, but not necessarily. Many people can dream of slugging someone and never do it, and during a length of time may become friends with that person. Was that sin? I am not so sure. Maybe wanting to slug someone was merely a temptation, and refraining to do it all those years proved as such. But we controlled our behavior. Now, many would consider that a sin and condemn the person for having such thoughts.

So, here I am feeling dejected one day many years ago, because there are certainly some thoughts in my life that, were they acted upon, would be sin. Then, of all people, a non-believer started a conversation with me. A co-worker, actually. I am not entirely sure how the conversation started, but somehow I talked about a thought and how, if they are indulged in, are harmful, evil and just as bad as the deed. He then said something that floored me. “So if you think about giving someone a million dollars and don’t actually do it, is that the same as doing it? Do you get credit for that?” Wow… What an eye opener. I dare say, a light turned on bright. I chuckled, because it seems we are totally willing to accept and take credit for bad thoughts, we condemn ourselves, but we don’t ever think of taking credit for merely thinking good things, nor should we. We should neither condemn nor praise for thoughts and temptations in our thought life. One might even say, a temptation is only that, until a physical act occurs which is giving birth to sin.

I was curious what others had thought about it. I know, almost universally, most will disagree with my position because westernized Christianity has jumped onto the bandwagon that almost anything is a sin. But I am curious if you can justify the reasoning, and if you can’t, how much potential shame and false guilt exists in the lives of believers by having such convictions? I often wonder if some people are harder on themselves that Christ will ever be. Some people give more grace to everyone except themselves. I can’t remember what this is called, but there it is an OCD obsession. Ahh, yes Scrupulosity. Many religious people suffer from scrupulosity, and I dare say that is NOT the work of God.


#2

Not to make light of this, Gabe, since I understand all too well what you are talking about, but - my mother-in-law once said something that eased my fretting:
“You can’t stop the birds from flying overhead, but
You can stop them from making a nest in your hair”

That’s actually got a LOT of truth packed in there.


#3

Yes, I want to say that I read that quote from Martin Luther. But I am not sure if he was the source of the original quote. No doubt that is truth, but still doesn’t quite explain the struggles that go on in the mind. The mind can war with itself quite a bit…


#4

Good question Gabe. While it may be a double standard, I don’t think it’s right to fantasize about harming people. Whether or not it’s a sin, I’m not sure. I would lean towards yes.


#5

Now, I totally understand that a thought indulged in could in theory lead to a physical acts, but not necessarily. Many people can dream of slugging someone and never do it, and during a length of time may become friends with that person. Was that sin? I am not so sure. Maybe wanting to slug someone was merely a temptation, and refraining to do it all those years proved as such. But we controlled our behavior. Now, many would consider that a sin and condemn the person for having such thoughts.

I think Paul said something like “don’t let the sun set on your anger” meaning “don’t go to sleep angry” which is a biblical theme of letting go of anger and forgiving or to put it another way “move on.”
So it’s not the thoughts that are sin but whether we cling to them IMHO.


#6

Well, we all know that Jesus said:

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman [or “wife”] to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5: 27, 28 NKJV)

This sounds as if Jesus believed that what goes on in one’s mind (or “heart”) can be sin, even without the fulfillment of the thought.


#7

This sounds as if Jesus believed that what goes on in one’s mind (or “heart”) can be sin, even without the fulfillment of the thought.

I think the “lust” definition is more like “lustfulness” meaning to dwell on the thought rather then just a isolated thought.


#8

Yeah you can. It’s called a shotgun :laughing:


#9

:laughing:


#10

This isn’t a natural conclusion to come to, but is invariably the implanted vine of religianity.

Temptation goes by way of the gate of the mind i.e., our thought life, and of themselves not necessarily sinful. Jesus we are told was tempted in all aspects of life, as are we, yet without sin. How for example did Jesus know what lust is? He must have understood the power of unrestrained inner passions and in consequence where such could lead if left unchecked, i.e., not subdued (Gen 4:7; 1Cor 6:12).


#11

Where do the thoughts come from thou??? look this up and its shocking,hence why i do not believe in free will.