Just exactly what are imaginations and what does the Bible say about them? Our thought life must be pure if we wish to see God. How do we harness our imaginations for God's glory?
Imaginations From a Biblical Perspective
Every one of us has an imagination. With this faculty we can grasp ideas that are new and different from familiar things. We frequently use our imagination to plan, design, invent, and study both good and bad things.
Imaginations are “super-thoughts” whose raw materials are familiar concepts, facts, and thoughts. With our imagination we merely assemble these components to form new ideas.
Imaginations originate from the thoughts of the heart. Thus imaginations reveal the content of a man’s heart, and the content of the heart inspires the imagination. Since the fall of man, man’s heart is evil from his youth. Our imaginations have been corrupted by the wickedness in our hearts (Gen 6:5).
But for what purpose was our imagination created? The divine gift of imagination was created perfectly. Everything God has given us can be used for his glory, or abused to our shame. The imagination also was designed to honor The Creator, and we are only stewards of this powerful tool. How can we bridle our imagination for the glory of God?
Since imaginations originate from the heart; we conclude that we must bridle our heart in order to control our imaginations. In what manner must we accomplish this?
A saving faith is absolutely essential before we attempt any change. Such a faith will teach us to fear God and keep his commandments. Most importantly, it teaches us to diligently go to God for help. Our God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him in faith.
We also need humility to access God’s grace. Pride alienates us from God’s grace, for God resists the proud. We must humble ourselves before God will humble himself to help us. We need humility to understand that without God’s grace we can do nothing; without God’s strength we are helpless.
We must next call God’s Word to mind to understand where we have failed. When we fathom God’s holiness and our depravity, godly fear ought to cause us to repent with our whole heart. A fervent desire for holiness must cause us to cast away our pet sins and beg God for cleansing. When we seek God with our whole heart and soul, God will give us a heart to know him and keep his commandments.
Even with a new heart, why is change so difficult? We often have a strong desire to change for the better. While a good desire is a good start, it is not sufficient. We must seek God with all our heart and all our soul if we covet progress. We must purpose in our hearts to forsake evil right now. We must decisively choose to possess the mind of Christ. Indeed, wishful thinking does not equate to diligent choosing. If we have repented with our whole heart, our whole heart will be dedicated to change.
Having repented, we still at times desire to follow after the imaginations of our evil hearts. Although easy to follow, this path causes us to oppose God and his laws. If we permit our carnality, we are choosing in pride to resist God, and God Almighty will resist us. Like Jeremiah’s girdle, we eventually will become profitable for nothing if we refuse God’s Word and walk after the imagination of our own hearts. Although easy to do, backsliding cannot occur until we forsake good things.
To prevent backsliding, we must guard our hearts with all diligence. If we have compromised in our hearts, we will also compromise in our actions. We must never long for the forbidden thing, but instead rejoice in tribulation. Instead of serving God grudgingly, we are called to serve him with a perfect heart and willing mind. Overcoming evil with good is the only way to victory. One of the most relevant passages on this topic is Philippians 4:4-8.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Php 4:4-7).
Rejoice in the Lord alway. When we rejoice, we choose to thank God for all the blessings he has given us. Rejoicing turns our eyes to God, and helps us to see God’s work in our lives. Rejoicing lifts our eyes from our problems to the goodness of our powerful God.
There are two distinct ways that we can rejoice: praise and thanksgiving. When we praise God, we rejoice in who God is and acknowledge His goodness to us. When we thank God, we acknowledge our indebtedness to Him for the present circumstances because we are confident in his goodness. One way that we can rejoice in the Lord is by telling others of what he has done for us. Do we comprehend God’s goodness to us?
God wants his people to rejoice at all times. Instead of complaining about our trials, we have the opportunity to rejoice in hope. If we choose to rejoice at tribulation like the apostles did, what can quench our joy in Christ? Often we neglect to see that the things that trouble us work together for our good. Our cares and worries will even drive us closer to God if we bring them to him.
When life is confusing, or we don’t get our way, or if we have failed, we often despair. We seem to forget God’s nature. Instead of casting all our cares upon Him who cares for us, we try to carry them ourselves. Once again we have a shining opportunity to commit all our problems to God in prayer. Our good God takes good care of his children. Our God is still our refuge and strength, even when we have failed. If we bring our requests to God, he will answer in the best way possible.
Moderation is also a key to a wholesome thought life. There is a time to figure a situation out, and there is also a time to rest from thinking. Any person’s imagination is more difficult to control when the mind is tired. Enough of rest will go a long way in controlling the mind. The discipline of a moderate lifestyle is essential to a healthy mind.
Finally, we are called to focus our imagination on good thoughts. Those who fix their mind on God experience perfect peace, because they trust in him. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Php 4:8). Although this list seems quite confining, we have total liberty to think about many things. What are some subjects that are safe to dwell on?
God has blessed us with a powerful imagination that we can use as we please. Will we be wise, and use it for his glory?