The Danger of Imaginations
Today we hear a lot about imagination. I think young girls especially hear about it… I know I did growing up. (The toy industry especially seems to be really pushing it.) Imagination is presented to them by the world as a very positive thing, even a virtue. “Be imaginative,” “Your only limit is your imagination,” and “Imagine the possibilities” are commonly heard sayings. The message seems to be, the more imagination you have the better life is going to get. But what does the Bible have to say? Is the topic even mentioned? It is indeed.
First off let’s learn some Bible facts about imagination:
- It is not the same thing as a thought. Thoughts are distinguished from imaginations in the Bible.
- The word “imagination” and its variant, “imaginations,” occur 20 times in the King James Bible.
- It is a noun. The verb form of the word is “imagine.”
- You can hear the word “image” in the beginning of it.
What is an imagination? The definition I’ve come to from looking at all of the verses where it is mentioned is “the formation of a picture from the heart.” My theory is that it is the picture or the visual part of the thought. The word is used in two ways in the Bible: either a) as the calling to remembrance things that a person saw at a point in their life, aka a “memory sense” or b) the visualizing of something that they came up with out of their own heart, aka a “fantasy sense.”
Interestingly enough there is only one verse where the “memory sense” of the word is used, and that exception is in 1 Chronicles. David calls upon God to keep the remembrance of the house of God (and the offerings given for it) that they saw with their eyes in the heart of His people. In that instance, the sense of the word is “an internally preserved picture of an actual object or event.”
“O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:” (1 Chronicles 29:18)
Now follow this closely: aside from its use in 1 Chronicles, every single time imaginations are mentioned in the Bible it is in a negative light. You don’t even have to get very far in the first book of the Bible to see that. I’m not going to go through all of them, but here is a good portion of them:
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
In the Book of Proverbs…
“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,” (Proverbs 6:18)
And all the way into the New Testament…
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21)
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”(2 Corinthians 10:5)
Why is this? Why do we see imaginations being condemned in the Bible from cover to cover?
Perhaps I should clarify now that the forming a picture in and of itself is not wrong. It is where the imaginations come from that makes them bad or not. You might have picked up in those verses that imaginations do not come from the mind. Imaginations come from the heart.
The heart of natural man is filled with sin and corruption. That is because it is the heart of the flesh. It is in a state of darkness. It is entirely depraved.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
The things that come out of the fallen heart of man are not good. Because the heart is evil, it produces evil.
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” (Matthew 15:19)
Imaginations are in most cases a byproduct of the wicked human heart. Because of this, they are also wicked – simple as that. It is the simple principle that you can’t get good fruit out of an evil tree. If the heart is wicked, the imagination of the thoughts of it will be too. You can’t get around it.
All people, even those that are saved, still have within them that wicked heart. They still have a sin nature. If it is allowed to influence your walk as a Christian it will lead you into iniquity. That is why we are told to
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26)
“Surely God doesn’t have a problem with a little girl imagining stories as she plays. Isn’t that what the joy of childhood is, make-believe and let’s pretend?”
There is a difference between children running around outside together and children spending time fantasizing things that aren’t there.
Imaginations have, I believe, a stronger impact on children than adults. For one thing children are more believing by nature. They are trusting. When you tell a child a story, they soak it up. Something that an older person would laugh at is something a small boy or girl would listen to open-mouthed and wide-eyed. They are easily convinced that something is true when it isn’t. Because they are so receptive they have a harder time discerning reality from fiction. When they read things or see things on TV or hear stories it is not difficult for them to think they are inside of it. Perhaps that is one reason why Satan is targeting young ones in encouraging them to be imaginative.
See, when children start imagining things themselves, it draws them away from reality. It is easy for them to get caught up in that strange state of mind where “dreams come true.” That which comes from the fallen heart… even the heart of a child… is not after the ways of God. It is the way to destruction.
Funny how the devil-possessed Lennon from the Beetles, encourages imaginations when they sing “Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky. Wicked!!
The spectrum of man’s imaginations is one of perpetual wickedness.
“…the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth;” (Genesis 8:21)
Part of that may be lack of experience in the “real world,” but part of it also is that it is ingrained in mankind from the start to imagine things.
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)
Please don’t encourage others to be imaginative. Rather, encourage them to be firmly grounded to the Rock of our salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His holy word, both of which are true and stand in stark contrast to the lies of our fallen, sinful hearts. When they spend their time trying to believe in things that aren’t real (a.k.a LIES out of their depraved nature), they will stop believing in the things that ARE.