“Listen well, all of you! The princess shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her. But… before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel…and DIE!”
The 1959 animated movie, Sleeping Beauty, introduced its viewers to Maleficent. The cruel and bewitching ‘Mistress of All Evil’ mysteriously appears before the christening of Princess Aurora. The antagonist casts a dark spell on the innocent child fulfilling her own desire for power. As usual, evil does not win; it’s destroyed.
The first course of destructive behaviors our Savior depicts is base and malevolent thoughts and schemes from the AMP. You can clearly see why my mind drifted back to the days my children were small. Maleficent derived her name and tendencies from her malevolent deliberations and plots. The different translations from the MSG and NIV are “stinking accumulations of mental and emotional garbage and obscenities.” If we can accurately define what Jesus of Nazareth was revealing with these ungodly and unclean ‘thoughts,’ then I think we can guard our hearts and minds against them.
Webster’s Dictionary defines malevolent as, “having, showing, or arising from intense often vicious ill will, spite, or hatred; productive of harm and evil.” A list of synonyms in which give descriptive terms of the character of this type of mental thoughts and schemes are: devious, scoundrelly, scurvy, snakelike; acrimonious, bitter, envious, jaundiced, rancorous, resentful, vindictive, contemptuous, baleful, harsh, hostile, acrid, caustic poisonous, and scathing.
Yes, we can quickly conjure up images of treacherous villains showboated in animated movies or action-packed thrillers. But this is not what Christ was revealing. No, He was pointing to everyday-planted roots within our hardened hearts.
Webster’s Dictionary defines obscene as, “disgusting to the senses; abhorrent to morality or virtue, repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral or ethical principles.” A list of synonyms to hone in on the point is: broad, racy, risqué, salacious, depraved, perverse, repulsive, revolting, distasteful, and abusive. These are the malevolent and base, mental and emotional garbage, and obscene thoughts and schemes Jesus claimed are what come out of a man or woman’s heart. I can accurately draw your attention to one such woman in the Bible who could be at the epicenter of this lecture, Jezebel.
Believe it or not, Jezebel’s name means chaste, “free from carnal connection” . She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, whom were notorious Baal worshipers. This was the chosen woman from whom Ahab, king of Northern Israel, married.
Descendant of God’s elect, Ahab sinned against his Hebrew faith in taking Jezebel as his covenant partner. “Doubtless seeing her, Ahab was fascinated by her beauty and forcefulness of character and fell for her, and Jezebel, ambitious and proud, eagerly seized the opportunity of sharing the throne of a king” .
She possessed an extraordinary dynamic personality, was a zealous idolater, a dominating wife, corrupt and treacherous schemer, and loved personal ornamentation. This is the woman whom Elijah personal fled from; this is the woman who killed a man because he would not give his land to Ahab, so the king could plant a garden. This is the woman who killed off the Lord’s prophets, “While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in caves fifty in each, and had supplied them food and water” (1 Kings 18:4). This is the woman whom died a horrific death; pushed from the balcony in front of her kingdom, nothing was left of her except skull, feet, and hands for the Jezreel dogs devoured her flesh. So the downward spiral of evil always ends in death, but leaves its penetrating mark on all in the wake.
Our thoughts are important to God. Our Lord revealed through Scriptures His desire for us to think and meditate on His works. Meditate in the Bible means focused thoughts according to Psalm 119:27. Our thoughts are to be purposeful and deliberate. When I began to study these Scriptures and God’s heart, I was amazed how many times He asked His people to think on good and holy things.
In the book of Deuteronomy, the AMP emphasizes the Scriptures with [your choices, your thoughts, your whole being]. Moses was giving the law of the Lord to the Israelites. God specifically said, “You shall diligently keep [foremost in your thoughts and actively do] the commandments of the Lord you God, and His testimonies and His statues which He has commanded you” (Deuteronomy 6:17).
“It shall come about, if you listen obediently and pay attention to my commandments which I command you today – to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all you heart and with all your soul [your choices, your thoughts, your whole being] – that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the late spring rain, so that you may gather in your grain and new wine and your olive oil. And He will give grass in your fields for you cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied” (Deuteronomy 11:13).
Hebrews 8:10 bridges Old Testament Scripture with New Testament Scripture as the author writes, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord, I will imprint my laws upon their minds [even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding], and engrave them upon their hearts [effecting their regeneration]. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The Lord expects His people to think and engrave His message upon their hearts and minds.
How do we begin this regeneration as Hebrew 8:10 so affectionately claims? “And do not conform to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]” (Romans 12:2).
We change as we draw closer to God. We change as we digest what His Word says in contrast to the World. We change through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We change as we continually repent and ask for God’s help. We transform. We regenerate. We progressively mature spiritually. Change requires obedience. Change demands persistence. Change will compel your spirit to search Scriptures. Change needs a willing spirit.
I love these words: regenerate, mature spiritually, transformation, progressively change. These Scriptures show a pattern. A process where are hearts seek God and His will, deliberately changing our thoughts and attitudes towards His desires. This sounds amazing. The program speaks to the hearts of many, but it’s the “work” where some fall short. There will be no quick fix.
God knows your thoughts, “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” (Matthew 9:4). “But Jesus, knowing their [hostile thoughts, answered them, ‘Why are you questioning [these things] in your heart?’ ” (Luke 5:22). God sees your heart. He desires your heart to be filled with His spirit thinking on things that regenerate your spirit, bringing you fulfillment, and transforming your entire being. Scheming and malevolent thoughts open a door for destruction and darkness, not transformation and growth.
Wishing someone would roll over and die is exposing evil thoughts planted with in your heart. Fantasying different scenarios as how to response, entrap, and accuse another of an offense is malevolent schemes. We roll around in our mind situations where we react with amazing retorts and comments to the one who has scarred us. We romanticize the pain brought down on the person if they lost their job, divorced, and were exposed for the villain they are; always the vindicator in our dreams, never the victim. We exaggerate and glamorize our hidden thoughts with in our spirits, showcasing our blunt verbiage of all we wanted to say, what should have been said, and all the different outcomes of overcoming the offender. Yes, we’ve all played the game; we’ve all wasted hours in fantastical episodes of our conquering victories to the ones who have hurt us; malevolent thought and schemes.
How do we fight this spiritual battle within our hearts? The enemy has found a crack in the foundation; a way into your spirit with hardened thoughts and distractions from open wounds and hurts. Darkness will continually plant seeds, new scenarios to meditate on, and endless conversations rehashing your pain. You need to master it.
Admitting there is a problem begins change. Openly repent of your negative thoughts. Drowning in constant vain imaginations is self-destructive. You are starving your spirit of Truth. You are planting weeds where thorns poke and prod you to remember the past instead of yanking out the root. You have a choice; and when you are ready to make the choice, His precious hand is there to guide your inner most thoughts.
When God revealed I had malevolent thoughts, I was stunned. Once a seed of hostile thoughts penetrate your heart, offshoots of the bushel grow; critical and negative thoughts, judgmental thoughts, self-pity thoughts, and prideful thoughts take root. It will take intentional, daily determination to change your thoughts. It is a step-by-step process.
I began by praying in the morning and giving my thoughts to God. I would repeat Scripture and mediate on God’s good works. As soon as a thought crept into my mind, I tried to compare it to God’s Word. If you can do this, if you can keep your mind focused on good, your whole character, attitude, spirit, and life will change. Transformation, Regeneration. When others would say, “We have a problem,” I would say, “No, God revealed…” It will change your life; spiritual maturity.
I want to end with an encouraging thought. God sees you as an overcomer. He sees all your potential, all your gifts, and all your talents. The Lord desires the best for you and your life. Jesus of Nazareth asked questions to the ones He wanted to help. “Do you want to get well?” was a question He asked a crippled man. Woman, your mind may be crippled and in need of healing. Do you want to get well? Do you want transformation and regeneration? Then I encourage you to take that step of faith and pray to the one who is waiting to help you.