Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity…
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF A MAN'S THOUGHTS. A man is as his thoughts. This is the fact and truth on which we may dwell. Any one who would truly judge his fellow-mart must know his secrets and judge his thoughts. Therefore man's judgment of his fellowman is always imperfect and uncertain. God alone can judge perfectly, because he is the "Discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." There is an impression resting on the minds of many religious persons that they have no control over the suggestions that are made to their minds, and no responsibility for the contents of their thoughts, only for the cherishing of the thought and dwelling upon it, and letting it take shape in action; or, as the Apostle James puts it, only when "lust is allowed to conceive, and bring forth sin." This, however, is true only within very narrow limits, and it is altogether healthier for us to accept a large measure of responsibility, even for the contents of our minds; for only then shall we be likely to watch over what goes in as over what goes out. The importance that attaches to our thoughts may be seen:
1. In our observation of men. We misjudge because we cannot read thoughts.
2. In the experiences of friendship. We trust our friend more than outsiders can do, because, in some measure, we do know his thoughts.
3. In view of the heart-searching claims of God, who desires "truth in the inward parts." Sin does not consist in mere act; it really lies at the back of the action - in the thought, the intention, and the motive that inspire it.
4. In consideration of the work of Divine redemption; which is really a heart-regeneration, a purifying of the very springs of thought and feeling. It seeks out the fountains and cleanses them.
II. THE CONTROL A MAN MAY HAVE OVER HIS THOUGHTS.
1. He has control over the materials of thought. Thought is really the comparison, selection, and association of the actual contents of our minds, under the guidance of our wills. All that has impressed us during our lives, by the eye, the ear, or the feeling, has passed into our mental treasury. Then we may take some care as to what goes in. We need not go into scenes or read books which will leave behind bad impressions.
2. We have control over the processes of thought. We can deliberately choose to think about evil things; we can start such thoughts, we can dwell on them, we can follow them on their foul way, we can collect from our associations things that match them. And, in a similar way, we can dwell upon and encourage the good. If our will is a renewed and sanctified will, then we shall find it may gain presidency over our thoughts, so that we may choose and follow only that which is good. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.