“Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.”Jeremiah 6:19
Originally published January 12, 2017
This is perhaps the scariest verse in all the Bible. When God is fed up with Israel, he does not threaten them with capital punishment, nor intimidate them with omnipotent destruction, nor yet with strict justice. The evil that the Lord brings upon them? It is what they have thought all along.
Imagine the hopelessness of an agnostic if God simply did withdraw himself from their life. Imagine the betrayal in the adulterer’s heart when unfaithfulness strikes him, or the desperation of the thief when everything is stolen from him, or the gloom of the hateful heart when death strikes close to him (1 John 3:15). The worst retributions are the ones we conjure. Descartes said famously, “I think, therefore I am.” We think of sin, therefore we are condemned by our thoughts.
People mistake a blessing for a curse when they don’t get what they wish for. Many think they will be the happiest if they just got what they wanted. Charles Spurgeon said,
“God blesses us all up to the full measure of what it is safe for him to do. If you do not get a blessing, it is because it is not safe for you to have one. If our heavenly Father were to let your unhumbled spirit win a victory in His holy war, you would pilfer the crown for yourself, and meeting with a fresh enemy you would fall a victim; so that you are kept low for your own safety.”
God protects us by holding back things we wish we had.
The problem lies in a deceitful heart that has desperately deep-rooted wickedness. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil.” Since we all possess a deceitful heart; the danger lies in the manifestation of the imagination. Therefore, we must commit our hearts and minds “unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or THINK, according to the power that worketh in us… by Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
In 1987 Michael Crichton penned the novel, “Sphere.” It presents an alien technology that terrorizes a group of undersea explorers by materializing their worst fears. They discover that they must change the way they think to escape what is haunting them. In the end, they choose to forget everything that happened to them.
Since we can’t choose to forget, we must turn to the Scripture. Seventeenth-century scholar Thomas Brooks proposed several scriptural remedies to stop errors of the thought-life before they matured into condemnation. He wrote:
“Consider, that an erroneous, vain mind is as odious to God as a vicious life. He that had leprosy in his head was to be pronounced utterly unclean (Lev. 13:44). Gross errors make the heart foolish, and render the life loose, and the soul light in the eye of God. Error spreads and frets like gangrene, and renders the soul a leper in the sight of God.”
“It was God’s heavy and dreadful plague upon the Gentiles to be given up to a mind void of judgment, or an injudicious mind, or a mind rejected, disallowed, abhorred of God, or a mind that none have cause to glory in, but rather to be ashamed of (Romans 1:28). I think that in these days God punisheth many men’s former wickednesses by giving them up to soul-ruining errors. Ah, Lord, this mercy I humbly beg, that thou wouldest rather take me into thine own hand, and do anything with me, than give me up to those sad errors to which thousands have married their souls and are in a way of perishing for ever.”
-Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, Device 11
The defense against such a fate? Receive the truth, hold fast the truth, and keep humble. “Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
Confess your dark thoughts to him today, and dwell instead on the fruit of the Spirit. If there is anything you want to return to you, surely it is the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance that the Spirit of God instills in a willing heart.