“How much does God actually know about me?” Many people ask this question because they are curious about the nature of God and how intimately he knows their desires, motives, intentions, and beliefs. Does God only observe actions and words, or does he know every thought that a person has?
God can hear people’s thoughts. He knows every person’s desires, motives, and intentions, whether good or bad. God is omniscient, which means he is all-knowing. Since God doesn’t have ears, he doesn’t “hear” thoughts like people hear words. When God is said to “hear” someone’s thoughts, it means that he knows them.
Where do bad thoughts come from? Can a person transform their thought life? How does a person push bad thoughts out of their mind? What did Jesus say about hearing and knowing people’s thoughts? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see How Does God Speak To Us? to learn more.
What does God think of a person’s bad thoughts?
When people wonder if God can hear their thoughts, they sometimes ask the question with a lot of concern because not everything they think about is Godly, holy, and righteous. Sometimes their thoughts are dark and full of sin.
Where do bad thoughts come from? The Bible teaches that all people are born sinners. Rebellion is rooted in the heart (e.g. Gen. 6:5; Matt. 15:19) and permeates every aspect of a person. One way that sinners deviate from God’s righteous standard is in their thinking. One of the clearest examples of people’s sin in the Bible describes the wickedness of people’s thought life.
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” ~ Genesis 6:5, ESV
What does God think of people’s sinful thoughts? The Bible teaches that all people sin and “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). People fall short in words, deeds, and thoughts. The consequence of sin — in whatever form it takes — is eternal death, but God offers people forgiveness and eternal life through his son Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 6:23).
Do all people have sinful thoughts? Yes. Some people may conclude from this fact that since their thoughts aren’t worse than anyone else’s, they shouldn’t feel guilty and don’t need forgiveness. While it’s true that all people have sinful thoughts, it’s wrong to conclude that God considers them in comparison to other people. Sin is defined as falling short of God’s standard, not being better or worse than another person. All people fall short and need forgiveness.
“You know when I sit and when I rise; You understand my thoughts from afar.” ~ Psalm 139:2
Can a person transform their thought life? Yes. Through confessing sin and having God’s forgiveness through Christ, the Holy Spirit changes people. Romans 12:2 reads, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
In The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges writes, “Holiness begins in our minds and works out to our actions. That being true, what we allow to enter our minds is critically important. The television programs we watch, the movies we may attend, the books and magazines we read, the music we listen to, and the conversations we have all affect our minds.” (p. 117)
How does a person push bad thoughts out of their mind? One way people can stop having sinful thoughts is to purposefully fill their minds with holy things.
- Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
- 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Also see How To Surrender To God to learn more.
What did Jesus say about hearing and knowing people’s thoughts?
Jesus taught that a person’s thought life is full of sin. In Matthew 15:19, Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Jesus not only taught that people’s hearts and thoughts were corrupt, but he also had direct knowledge of them.
- John 2:24-25, “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”
- Matthew 9:4, “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”
- Matthew 12:25, “Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”
- Luke 6:8, “But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and stand among us.” So he got up and stood there.”
- Luke 9:47, “But Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, had a little child stand beside Him.”
Also see Is There Anything Too Hard For God? to learn more.
Bible verses about God hearing people’s thoughts
- Deuteronomy 31:21, “And when many troubles and afflictions have come upon them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants. For I know their inclination, even before I bring them into the land that I swore to give them.”
- 1 Kings 8:39, “be heard by You from heaven, Your dwelling place. And may You forgive and act, and repay each man according to all his ways, since You know his heart–for You alone know the hearts of all men–“
- 1 Chronicles 28: 9, “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”
- Isaiah 66:18, “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory,”
- Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
- 1 John 3:20, “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”
“Imagination is the hotbed where this sin is too often hatched. Guard your thoughts, and there will be little fear about your actions.” ~ Pastor and theologian J.C. Ryle
Also see How To Listen To God to learn more.
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