Thoughts, Drive and Deeds – are they all sin?
Spiritual battle is fought in the mind. We all have bad thoughts from time to time, but my problem is that most teachers of the Christian faith refer to them as sinful, thereby making the disciples feel unnecessarily guilty. However bad these thoughts are, I am only concerned about what considered sin is from the point of the bible.
It is said that one cannot stop a bird flying over one's head, but he can stop it nesting. Thoughts, no matter how bad they are, still not sin from the biblical point of view. They become sin when one is motivated by them, when they take root and become a driving force.
Consider Jesus' claim that he didn't come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (fully obey it). The Law certainly says nothing about having bad thoughts being sin. The Law is concerned with actions and sinful drive (i.e. covetousness). Covetousness is like a big vortex that seeks to suck in its target. A force. Bad thoughts are not yet sin. They can become sin though, that is why the battlefield is the mind.
Calling sinful thoughts sin is simply is not biblical. The problem is with the deepest intent, the spring of sinful actions, being sinful. Consider sexual immorality. Having sex with one's wife during her period is considered as such in the law. Yet, how many Christians care about it, while they consider looking at single girls sin?
Our concern should be about sinful drive, which is already an animating force, and only a matter of time that it precipitates in sinful action. Of course, carelessly entertaining sinful thoughts may lead to such drive, but such thoughts in themselves are not yet sin. Not in the biblical sense.
God created us with a sense of beauty, and we should have the freedom to delight in beauty, and enjoy the friendship of beautiful people, but never to crave to make them ours. But if we cannot handle it, we should avoid it. There is always this invisible line that we should never overstep. We may face temptations, but should never yield to them.
Temptations are trials from God. They are not bad as they are an opportunity to prove ourselves, however, they can be difficult. If we withstand them, we come out stronger. If we fail, we know we have work to do. However, repentance is always available. A good man may fall seven times but gets up seven times. Yet, this is not a license to sin. Sin is serious, a shaking of one's fist in the face of God, and it should be taken seriously.
Thus, let us guard our thoughts, that they may not lead to sinful drive because we let our guard off.