For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
George Albert Smith
As a child, thirteen years of age, I went to school at the Brigham Young Academy. … I cannot remember much of what was said during the year that I was there, but there is one thing that I will probably never forget. … Dr. [Karl G.] Maeser one day stood up and said:
"Not only will you be held accountable for the things you do, but you will be held responsible for the very thoughts you think."
Being a boy, not in the habit of controlling my thoughts very much, it was quite a puzzle to me what I was to do, and it worried me. In fact, it stuck to me just like a burr. About a week or ten days after that it suddenly came to me what he meant. I could see the philosophy of it then. All at once there came to me this interpretation of what he had said: Why of course you will be held accountable for your thoughts, because when your life is completed in mortality, it will be the sum of your thoughts. That one suggestion has been a great blessing to me all my life, and it has enabled me upon many occasions to avoid thinking improperly, because I realize that I will be, when my life's labor is complete, the product of my thoughts. (Sharing the Gospel with Others, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1948, pp. 62-63.)
Ezra Taft Benson
Thoughts lead to acts, acts lead to habits, habits lead to character--and our character will determine our eternal destiny. ("Think on Christ," Ensign, Apr. 1984, p. 10)
David O. McKay
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the
heart; and they defile the man.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
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:
All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
The origin of thought and reflection is in ourselves. We think, because
we are, and are made susceptible of external influences, and to feel our
relationship to external objects. Thus thoughts of revenge, and thoughts
of blessing will arise in the same mind, as it is influenced by external
circumstances. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.52)
We Decide What Thoughts We Entertain
Ezra Taft Benson
The mind has been likened to a stage on which only one act at a time can be performed. From one [page 11] side of the wings the Lord, who loves you, is trying to put on the stage of your mind that which will bless you. From the other side of the wings the devil, who hates you, is trying to put on the stage of your mind that which will curse you.
You are the stage manager--you are the one who decides which thought will occupy the stage. Remember, the Lord wants you to have a fullness of joy like His. The devil wants all men to be miserable like unto himself. You are the one who must decide whose thoughts you will entertain. You are free to choose--but you are not free to alter the consequences of those choices. You will be what you think about--what you consistently allow to occupy the stage of your mind.
Sometimes you may have difficulty driving off the stage of your mind a certain evil thought. To drive it off, Elder Boyd K. Packer suggests that you sing an inspirational song of Zion, or just think on its words. Elder Bruce R. McConkie recommends that after the opening song, you might preach a sermon to yourself. In fact, he says the finest sermons he has ever preached have been preached to himself.
We should not invite the devil to give us a stage presentation. Usually with our hardly realizing it, he slips into our thoughts. Our accountability begins with how we handle the evil thought immediately after it is presented. Like Jesus, we should positively and promptly terminate the temptation. We should not allow the devil to elaborate with all his insidious reasoning.
It is our privilege to store our memories with good and great thoughts
and bring them out on the stage of our minds at will. When the Lord faced
His three great temptations in the wilderness, He immediately rebutted
the devil with appropriate scripture which He had stored in His memory.
("Think on Christ," Ensign, Apr. 1984, pp. 10-11)
Must Focus on the Solemnities of Eternity
Hearken ye to these words. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds.
Verily, verily, I say unto you who now hear my words, which are my voice, blessed are ye inasmuch as you receive these things; For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment--that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.
Ezra Taft Benson
Take time to meditate. Ponder the meaning of the work in which you are engaged. The Lord has counseled, "Let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds" (D&C 43:34). You cannot do that when your minds are preoccupied with the worries and cares of the world. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.390)
Marion G. Romney
A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; 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. Thy mind, O man!
if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost
heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad
expanse of eternity -- thou must commune with God. How much more dignified
and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human
heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. (Teachings
of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.137)
Thoughts of God are Higher Than the Thoughts of Men
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.
For 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.
Let Your Thoughts Be Directed to God
Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
The religion that we have embraced must last a man from Monday morning until Monday morning, and from Saturday night until Saturday night, and from one new year until another; it must be in all our thoughts and words, in all our ways and dealings. (Discourses of Brigham Young, pp.233-234)
David O. McKay
A willingness to give God the glory is a sure means of subduing selfishness.
Faith, therefore, is a foundation element in true character building; for
an upright character is the result of continued effort and right thinking,
the effect of long-cherished associations with God-like thoughts. He approaches
nearest the Christ spirit who makes God the center of his thoughts and
acts, and who can say in his heart, ". . . not my will, but thine, be done."
(Luke 22:42.) [Gospel Ideals, p.350-351]
God Knows Our Thoughts
Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save
God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.
Behold, I say unto you, my servants Ezra and Northrop, open ye your
ears and hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, whose word is quick
and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of
the joints and marrow, soul and spirit; and is a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart.
Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness,
for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold,
he knows all thy thoughts, and thou seest that thy thoughts are made known
unto us by his Spirit.
And then shall the second angel sound his trump, and reveal the secret
acts of men, and the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and the mighty
works of God in the second thousand years-
God is here: his influence fills immensity. He has his messengers throughout
all the works of his hands. He watches every one of his creatures; their
acts, their affections, and thoughts are all known to him; for his intelligence
and power fill immensity. Not that his person does, but his Spirit does;
and he is here teaching, guiding and directing the nations of the earth.
(Discourses of Brigham Young, p.32)
We may deceive one another, as in some circumstances, counterfeit coin
passes for that which is considered true and valuable among men. But God
searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men. He knows
our thoughts and comprehends our desires and feelings. He knows our acts
and the motives which prompt us to perform them. He Is acquainted with
all the doings and operations of the human family, and all the secret thoughts
and acts of the children of men are open and naked before him, and for
them he will bring them to judgment. (The Gospel Kingdom, p.231)
Ministering Angels Know Our Thoughts
Concerning Brother James Adams, it should appear strange that so good
and so great a man was hated. The deceased ought never to have had an enemy.
But so it was. Wherever light shone, it stirred up darkness. Truth and
error, good and evil cannot be reconciled. Judge Adams had some enemies,
but such a man ought not to have had one. I saw him first at Springfield,
when on my way from Missouri to Washington. He sought me out when a stranger,
took me to his home, encouraged and cheered me, and gave me money. He has
been a most intimate friend. I anointed him to the patriarchal power --
to receive the keys of knowledge and power, by revelation to himself. He
has had revelations concerning his departure, and has gone to a more important
work. When men are prepared, they are better off to go hence. Brother Adams
has gone to open up a more effectual door for the dead. The spirits of
the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are
blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming
fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings,
and motions, and are often pained therewith. (Teachings of the Prophet
Joseph Smith, p.325)
God Will Judge Our Thoughts
For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we
shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and
in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would
fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon
us to hide us from his presence.
Righteous Actions Must Have Corresponding Righteous Thoughts
David O. McKay
Thoughts are the seeds of acts and precede them. Mere compliance with the word of the Lord, without a corresponding inward desire, will avail but little. Indeed, such outward actions and pretending phrases may disclose hypocrisy, a sin that Jesus most vehemently condemned.
"O generation of vipers," he exclaimed, "how can ye, being evil, speak
good things?" (Matt. 12:34.) The Savior's constant desire and effort were
to implant in the mind right thoughts, pure motives, noble ideals, knowing
full well that right words and actions would eventually follow. He taught
what modern physiology and psychology confirm -- that hate, jealousy, and
other evil passions destroy a man's physical vigor and efficiency. "They
pervert his mental perceptions and render him incapable of resisting the
temptation to commit acts of violence. They undermine his moral health.
By insidious stages they transform the man who cherishes them into a criminal."
(Gospel Ideals, p.382)
Gospel Requires Purity in Thought
But this much I can tell you, that 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. And
now, O man, remember, and perish not.
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household
of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy
confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood
shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
God is feeling after us. God is now feeling after us, and will disclose
our secret thoughts. It would be well to purify and prepare ourselves,
and in the language of the Psalmist, call upon God, saying, "Search me,
O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there
be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Teachings
of Lorenzo Snow, p.120)
Joseph F. Smith
As reasonable beings, as men and women of intelligence, we cannot help
but admire and honor the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which is the doctrine
of God, and which requires of every man and woman righteousness in their
lives, purity in their thoughts, uprightness in their daily walk and conversation,
devotion to the Lord, love of truth, love of their fellowman, and above
all things in the world the love of God. These were the precepts that were
inculcated by the Son of God when he walked among his brethren in the meridian
of time. He taught these precepts; he exemplified them in his life, and
advocated continually the doing of the will of him that sent him. (Gospel
Unclean Thoughts Lead to Unclean Acts
Gordon B. Hinckley
Be clean in mind, and then you will have greater control over your bodies.
It was said of old, "As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov.
23:7). Unclean thoughts lead to unclean acts. I remember going to President
McKay years ago to plead the cause of a missionary who had become involved
in serious sin. I said to President McKay, "He did it on an impulse." The
President said to me: "His mind was dwelling on these things before he
transgressed. The thought was father to the deed. There would not have
been that impulse if he had previously controlled his thoughts." ("Be Ye
Clean," Ensign, May 1996, p. 48)
Russell M. Nelson
Since thoughts precede deeds, you must first learn to control your thoughts.
"As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7.) ["Self-Mastery,"
Nov. 1985, p. 30]
Evil Thoughts Are Sinful
Bruce R. McConkie
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. (Mormon Doctrine, p.792)
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.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after
God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Evil Thoughts Are More Destructive Than War
David O. McKay
More destructive to the spreading of Christian principles in the minds,
particularly of the youth, than battleships, submarines, or even bombs,
is the sowing of false ideals by the enemy. . . . Misrepresentation, false
propaganda, innuendoes soon sprout into poisonous weeds, and before long
the people find themselves victims of a pollution that has robbed them
of their individual liberty and enslaved them to a group of political gangsters.
Let us draw a lesson from this. So it is with evil thoughts that may be
permitted insidiously to enter and to find lodgment in the human mind.
(Gospel Ideals, p.284)
Sex in One's Thoughts is Inappropriate
Spencer W. Kimball
All sex activity outside marriage is sin. The early apostles and prophets
mention numerous sins that were reprehensible to them. Many of them were
sexual sins -- adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness,
infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection,
fornication. They included all sexual relations outside marriage -- petting,
sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one's thoughts
and talking. Included are every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and
impure thoughts and practices. One of the worst of these is incest. (The
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.264)
If Thoughts Are Clean Then Temptation is Easily Resisted
David O. McKay
Temptation does not come to those who have not thought of it before.
Keep your thoughts clean, and it will be easy to resist temptations as
they come. (Gospel Ideals, p.401)
Strength of the Church Lies in the Purity of Thought of its Members
David O. McKay
Now, what do we mean by the world? It is sometimes used as an indefinite
term. I take it that the world refers to the inhabitants who are alienated
from the Saints of God. They are aliens to the Church, and it is the spirit
of this alienation that we should keep ourselves free from. We are told
by Paul not to conform to the fashions of the world. Titus was warned not
to partake of those things, the evils of the world, and to "Flee also youthful
lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that
call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (II Tim. 2:22.) Purity of heart
-- Zion is the pure in heart, we have been told, and the strength of this
Church lies in the purity of the thoughts and lives of its members, then
the testimony of Jesus abides in the soul, and strength comes to each individual
to withstand the evils of the world. (Gospel Ideals, p.153)
Pondering and Proper Thoughts Important Part of Healing
Robert D. Hales
While I was lying in my hospital bed and for several weeks at home,
my physical activity was severely restricted by intense pain which disabled
my weakened body, but I learned the joy of freeing my mind to ponder the
meaning of life and the eternities. Since my calendar was wiped clean of
meetings, tasks, and appointments, for a number of weeks I was able to
turn my attention away from matters of administration to matters of the
eternities. The Lord has told us, "Let the solemnities of eternity rest
upon your minds" (D&C 43:34). I discovered that if I dwelt only upon
my pain, it inhibited the healing process. I found that pondering was a
very important element in the healing process for both soul and body. Pain
brings you to a humility that allows you to ponder. It is an experience
I am grateful to have endured. ("Healing Soul and Body," Ensign,
Nov. 1998, 14)
Even Our Thoughts Can Effect Others
David O. McKay
There is another responsibility correlated and even coexistent with
free agency, which is too infrequently emphasized, and that is the effect
not only of a person's actions but also of his thoughts upon others. Man
radiates what he is, and that radiation affects to a greater or lesser
degree every person who comes within that radiation. (Gospel Ideals,
True Repentance Requires Thinking New Thoughts
Spencer W. Kimball
Very frequently people think they have repented and are worthy of forgiveness
when all they have done is to express sorrow or regret at the unfortunate
happening, but their repentance is barely started. Until they have begun
to make changes in their lives, transformation in their habits, and to
add new thoughts to their minds, to be sorry is only a bare beginning.
(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.87)
To Know God Requires That Our Thoughts Be Like His
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?
Man Must Learn to Control Thoughts
We are taught to cultivate our minds, to control our thoughts to thoroughly
bring our whole being into subjection to the spirit and law of God, that
we may learn to be one and act as the heart of one man, that we may carry
out the purposes of God upon the earth. (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff,
The Future of a Nation Determined by the Thoughts of the Young
David O. McKay
Victor Hugo said: "The future of any nation can be determined by the
thoughts of its young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five."
Thus it is easy to understand why the Lord designates Zion as ". . . the
pure in heart (D. & C. 97:21); and only when we are such, and only
when we have such shall Zion ". . . flourish, and the glory of the Lord
shall be upon her." (Gospel Ideals, p.335)
Cast Away Idle Thoughts
Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.
I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
The Effect of Media Upon Our Thoughts
Joseph F. Smith
It would be difficult to estimate the harmful influences upon the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the young, brought about by the practice of reading dime novels. Books constitute a sort of companionship to everyone who reads, and they create within the heart feelings either for good or for bad. It sometimes happens that parents are very careful about the company which their children keep and are very indifferent about the books they read. In the end the reading of a bad book will bring about evil associates.
It is not only the boy who reads this strange, weird and unnatural exciting literature who is affected by its influence, but in time he influences others. This literature becomes the mother of all sorts of evil suggestions that ripen into evil practices and bring about an unnatural and debased feeling which is ever crowding out the good in the human heart and giving place to the bad. It was Shelley who said that "strange thoughts beget strange deeds," and when our children are reading books that are creating strange and unusual and undesirable thoughts in their minds we need not be surprised to learn that they have committed some unusual, some strange, or unnatural act. It is in the thoughts and feelings that we have to combat the evils and temptations of the world, and the purification of our thoughts and feelings should be made the special effort of every father and mother. Fuller once wrote, "It seems my soul is like a filthy pond where fish die soon and frogs live long." It is remarkable how easy it is to learn sin and how hard it is to forget it.
A story is told of an English officer in India, who one day went to
the book shelf to take down a book. As he reached his hand up over the
volume his finger was bitten by an adder. After a few hours the finger
began to swell. Later on the swelling went into his arm, and finally the
whole body was affected, and in a few days the officer was dead. There
are adders concealed in many a cheap and trashy book, and they are always
common in dime novels. Their effects upon our souls are poisonous, and
in time they are sure to produce a moral and spiritual death. * * * The
influence of these novels is all the more dangerous because the feelings
and thoughts which they engender in the heart and mind are more or less
hidden and the evil consequences of such reading frequently does not manifest
itself until some overt and horrible act is the result of months and sometimes
years of imagination and wonderment. Let the Saints beware of the books
that enter their homes, for their influences may be as poisonous and deadly
as the adder which brought death to the English officer in India. (Gospel
L. Tom Perry
Have the courage to turn off unfit television programs, and stay away
from movies and videotapes that would fill your mind with thoughts of evil
and violence. Remember, the scripture has said, "For as [a man] thinketh
in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7.) ["I Confer the Priesthood of Aaron,"
Nov. 1985, p. 48]
Control Words Before You Can Control Your Thoughts
If you first gain power to check your words, you will then begin to
have power to check your judgment, and at length actually gain power to
check your thoughts and reflections. (Discourses of Brigham Young,
Master Feelings to Master Thoughts
Experience has taught us that it requires time to acquire certain branches
of mechanism, also all principles and ideas that we wish to become masters
of. The closer people apply their minds to any correct purpose the faster
they can grow and increase in the knowledge of the truth. When they learn
to master their feelings, they can soon learn to master their reflections
and thoughts in the degree requisite for attaining the objects they are
seeking. But while they yield to a feeling or spirit that distracts their
minds from a subject they wish to study and learn, so long they will never
gain the mastery of their minds. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.250)
Proper Thoughts Produce Self-Respect
Joseph F. Smith
Among the strong helps to gain self-respect are personal purity and
proper thoughts which are the bases of all proper action. (Gospel Doctrine,