|Volume 25 Number 3 March 2023
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV). From this, we quickly understand that one must guard his heart from evil because the Wise Man said that if one thinks about evil, he will be evil. One can’t be consumed with evil within and not have it come to the surface and affect his life and the lives of others. In his teaching on love, the apostle Paul instructed brethren that when one loves the way he ought to love, he “thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5). The love and respect that one has for God and for others will cause him to keep not just his actions but also his thoughts pure.
In keeping with this thought, David asked God for help as he said, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). When we think godly thoughts and strive to live godly lives, there will be no room for the bad thoughts and actions that Satan uses to lure those who will follow him.
God won’t leave us to our own devices in this matter of what we think, say and do. He will always be there for us if we put Him first in our lives. Just look at what he told Jeremiah. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (29:11-13). God Himself says He thinks thoughts of peace and good and not of evil, and He promised Jeremiah that if he sincerely sought to please Him with his life, He would be with him. We still have that promise today when one truly searches for God’s way with all his or her heart!
Oftentimes when our thoughts and actions are not pure, we have gotten in our own way of pleasing God. Paul told the Galatians, “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3). The apostle also gave us the cure for this in Romans 12:3 as he instructed the brethren that one “not think of himself more highly than he ought to think but to think soberly…” Sometimes we think of this word “sober” as being opposite of “drunk,” but that’s not Paul’s intention. Here, the word means to think soundly or wisely. In other words, use good judgment! Remember we were just speaking of those who were exalting themselves and that to their own detriment – not in their own best interest.
Peter had a bad time with this problem. When he was approached by some who had seen him in the company of Jesus, he denied it twice. Then the third time one said to him “surely you are one of them for your speech betrays you” (Matthew 26:73) and Peter “…began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the man!’” (26:74). Jesus had told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the cock crowed, and he did. Peter spoke like a disciple of Jesus, but then he ranted as though he were one of Satan’s disciples. Later, Peter regretted his actions as the text says “…he went out and wept bitterly” (26:75). Peter was afraid he would suffer the same fate as Jesus if he confessed his attachment to Him.
How can we avoid thinking and enacting evil thoughts and deeds? Even those closest to Jesus had a problem with this. Remember that what’s in the heart comes out through the mouth or in one’s actions. Concentrate on good and shun evil thoughts.
“What are you thinking?” is a good question because your thoughts control your destiny. Paul instructed that “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). If you fill your thoughts and heart with only good things, there will be no room for evil. That’s the way to defeat Satan!
Foundation Plan for Disciplined Disciples
I have observed over many years that the true action of discipleship has been waning among true Christian believers. We have forgotten how or have been just too busy to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19 NKJV) in our neighborhoods, workplaces or everyday everywhere.
The Lord Jesus came to earth to save all who would hear, believe, repent, confess His name and be baptized. When He went back to the Father, He left His disciples with the responsibility to “Go… make disciples.” He trusted them to do that. He left no Plan B. If His disciples had not carried out His command, you and I would not know the Lord Jesus as we do, and salvation would elude us.
A great work of making disciples has been done in the intervening years between the departure of our Lord and now. However, with a world population growing as it is, we need to be aware of the following.
I am not some fanatic saying that we need to forsake all and go into some foreign land as missionaries. Rather, we need to lift our eyes and see the “fields… already white for harvest” (John 4:35). We need to see the fields around us and to swing the harvesting sickle while we still have the breath of life.