It was Dr. Billy Graham who said: “You can’t prevent a crow from flying over your head, but you can surely prevent it from building a nest on your head.” He was referring to what we do with the random thoughts that comes to our mind.
A glaring example in the Bible of a person allowing the devil to build a nest in his head is Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. Why did he betray Jesus? Was it an impulsive act? Reading John 13:2, along with v.27, answers this question. In John 13:2, we see that Satan had put a thought into him to betray Jesus. In v.27, we see Satan ‘entered him’. What happened after that to Judas was beyond his control. What was going on during the time between a passing thought was put in, to the time when Satan entered him? Why didn’t Satan enter him in the beginning itself?
He did not do so simply because he could not enter him at that stage. He had to see what the man would do with that passing thought. Judas allowed Satan to build a mansion in his head because he fondly entertained that evil thought. He may have been so busy building on that thought, that nothing else may have occupied his mind after that! In the beginning he must have been repulsed by the very thought. But he got so caught up with the reward, and his resistance to that repulsive idea slowly dissolved. The thought of the reward blinded him so much that he could so easily execute the unthinkable act!
Satan sows such evil passing thoughts into each one of us. Why do some of us fall for it, and others are able to resist the temptation? The difference is in the treatment that such thoughts receive from us. If we think about it a second time, then a third time….. before we know it, we would have thought about it a hundred times. That second thought is the crucial moment. That is the moment to apply a sudden break to your train of thoughts.
It is not the fear of punishment which should deter us from thinking the wrong thoughts, or doing the wrong act, but what we are doing to ourselves. Entertaining the wrong thoughts gives Satan the opportunity to enter us and make us do such evil acts, that we may abhor ourselves later! That is what happened to Judas. He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” and went and hanged himself.
Through every sinful thought, we are opening the door of our lives to Satan. Once we start being influenced by Satan, there is no telling where it may lead us. It can take us through roads which we never dreamt of treading! Like the tongue, it can set your whole life on fire (Jas. 3:6).
So, be careful about what you do with each thought that comes to your mind. It may be a tinge of jealousy like King Saul towards David, who brought a mighty victory for him and for God’s people by killing Goliath, the Philistine champion. All that it took to kindle the fire of jealousy in him was a song that women sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” From 1 Samuel 18:6-12, we understand that Saul became angry because they ascribed to David ten thousands and to him only thousands. His evil thoughts started acquiring wings from then on. It says in v. 9: “So, Saul eyed David from that day forward.” That is when Satan entered him. He even made an attempt on David’s life soon enough, under the influence of the ‘ distressing spirit from the Lord’; but David escaped. V. 12 is very telling. “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul.” Like a mad man, he wasted the rest of his life chasing an innocent man to kill him and finally ended losing his own life! The course of his whole life was changed for the worse, because he entertained that one thought of jealousy.
Or, it could be a tinge of hatred like that of the colleagues of Daniel, over his possible elevation in the office. They manipulated King Darius to such an extent that Daniel was finally cast into the den of lions. But the story does not end there. Daniel 6:23 says, “No injury whatever was found on him because he believed in his God.” But instead, the haters of Daniel, who conspired against him, ended up in the lions’ den, not only by themselves, but with their families. By entertaining the thoughts of hatred, they endangered not only their own lives, but also of their families’!
It is thought-provoking to note that in these three cases, it ended up in the death of those who entertained the evil thought. It may also be other feelings like pride, anger, lust or greed; they can only take us to the sure destination of destruction.
We find one exception to this in the life of David. In his case too, it was the second look and then the succeeding looks at the bathing Bathsheba, which finally ended up in his sins of adultery and murder. God took the initiative to bring David back to Himself in repentance. When Nathan, the prophet, confronted him through a story, he was convinced of the fault and declared severe punishment for the cruel rich man. The way he responded when Nathan said, “You are the man”, made all the difference. He confessed: “I have sinned against the Lord”( 2 Sam. 12:13). Because of his repentant response in humility, God forgave his sin, (he did not die) though he had to bear the consequences.
Punishment seems to be built in to disobedience; so nip it in the bud. Otherwise, before you know it, you may end up in a forest of thoughts. That is why we are admonished to “take every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:5) and to “watch over your heart with all diligence’” (Pro. 4:23).
In Genesis 4: 7, God tells Cain, “If you do not do well, sin is lying at the door; its desire is for you. You should rule over it.” We know from the rest of the narrative that Cain did not heed this admonition of God and the consequences that followed. God knew his heart and his plan. He had the opportunity to turn away from his evil thoughts and plans. But he did not, and ended up as a murderer of his own brother!
So, let us take control of our thought-life, especially the second one. In case, we fail at some point, let us repent, following the example of David, and not of the others. Our God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, if we confess them (1 John 1:9).