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by Elder Bruce R. McConkie
Thoughts are the ideas, concepts, judgments, imaginations, fancies, opinions, dispositions, and intentions that arise in the hearts and minds of men. The power to think is an inheritance which all men receive because they are the spirit children of an Omnipotent Father. It is the spirit that thinks, not the mortal tabernacle. The manner in which this power is used (including the thoughts that come into their minds) depends on the manner in which men exercise the agency with which they have been endowed by their Creator.
The thoughts of the Lord are infinite, eternal, and perfect, for he knows all things and has all power. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8-9; Ps. 33:11; 92:5.) Man's thoughts are open to the view and knowledge of the Lord. (D. & C. 6:16; 33:1; Mosiah 24:12; Alma 18:32; Job 42:2; Ps. 94:11; 139:2; Heb. 4:12.) To his prophets also this power is given as occasion requires. (Jac. 2:5; Alma 10:17; 12:3, 7; 18:16, 18, 20; Hela. 9:41.) Christ frequently exercised his power to read the thoughts of those among whom he ministered. (Matt. 9:4; 12:25; Luke 5:22; 6:8; 9:47; 11:17; 3 Ne. 28:6.)
Evil thoughts are sinful. (Prov. 15:26; 24:9.) They are an abomination in themselves, and they lead to further wickedness. Evils are not committed until they have been thought out in the heart. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness." (Mark 7:21-22; Matt. 15:19; Luke 6:45.) "Behold, I will bring evil upon this people," saith the Lord, "even the fruit of their thoughts." (Jer. 6:19.) It was only after "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" (Gen. 6:5), that he sent the flood of Noah to cleanse the earth.
On the other hand, "The thoughts of the righteous are right." (Prov. 12:5.) They are at the root of all righteous action; wise words and deeds flow from them; and a righteous judgment will be given because of them. Men are what their thoughts make them. "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7.) Our thoughts will reward or condemn us before the judgment bar. (Alma 12:12-14.) The righteous and the wicked are divided by their thoughts, and the secret thoughts of men will be revealed in the judgment. (D. & C. 88:109.) Righteous thoughts lead to salvation, wicked thoughts to damnation.
"A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of," the Prophet said, "because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out." (Teachings, p. 137.)
Part of man's mortal probation is to see if he can control his thoughts in accordance with righteous principles. The saints are commanded, "Cast away your idle thoughts" (D. & C. 88:69), which obviously includes all evil thoughts, all those that do not edify, and all that are unproductive. Thoughts are idle if they do not work to further man's peace in this life and eternal reward in the next.
King Benjamin counseled his people: "If ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish." (Mosiah 4:30.) Paul taught that the saints must bring "into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5.) To be saved men must repent of their evil thoughts. (Acts 8:18-24.) "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isa. 55:7.)
Men should think on the things of righteousness. They should meditate upon the great truths which the Lord has revealed. "Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly." (D. & C. 121:45.) Above all, men should think of the Lord and his infinite goodness. "Look unto me in every thought" (D. & C. 6:36), is his plea. (Alma 37:36.) "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?" (Mosiah 5:13.)
Those who "commit" their "works unto the Lord," have power to control and establish their thoughts. (Prov. 16:3.) They have power to gain new thoughts by revelation from the Holy Ghost. When they speak about the Lord and his laws, they are enabled to do so without reading a prepared essay. "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." (D. & C. 84:85; 100:5-6; Matt. 10:19; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11.)
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Mormon Doctrine, p. 793
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