I have a couple of questions that I would like to send you. I have been a member of the Lords Church all my life and I am in my later years of life. I suffer with OCD and depression. I have such a hard time controlling my thoughts, and I worry that I am not going to heaven because of bad thoughts in my head. I was reading a article about this on your web site, but I feel like I will never get to heaven because God tells you he judges you from your heart. My heart is very tender, and I do not want these thoughts, but they're there. I am scared about my salvation. Please advise and help me. Thank you and God bless.
"For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God" (I John 3:20-21).
God judges us by the things that we do because our actions typically show what is in our minds. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10). Yet that isn't always a complete picture because people can do the right things with the wrong motives or intentions. It can go the other way around too. A person could make the wrong choice because he lacked information, not understanding what might happen. His intentions might have been correct but the results were wrong. "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God" (I Corinthians 4:5). This doesn't become an excuse to sin, say to commit fornication because you are in "love." God knows accurately what you could have known and what your true intentions were. It won't be the lies you told yourself to justify your own sins.
All of us have thoughts constantly flying through our heads. Most of them we sort through, discarding the inappropriate, the impractical, the silly, etc. But some people have a bit harder time dismissing random thoughts. They focus on them and decide that because they are in their head that it must be them. For a few, those random thoughts are given more credence than reality.
When we are told to give control over our thoughts, it is not saying that we never have a bad thought. I cannot talk about murder without some part of my mind thinking about what murder is. The question isn't whether we think about something, but how we classify those thoughts. If I think about lying, but then tell myself that no good because lying is wrong, then I'm doing what I'm supposed to. There is no need to beat myself up because I thought about lying. To do so is to attribute blame to the wrong thing. Lying is wrong; I am not wrong because I didn't lie.
When thoughts become uncontrolled is when I think about sin and accept it, wanting what it offers. Then, even though I haven't yet acted on it, I've already gave approval to myself to sin. "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:20-23). Eventually, given the opportunity, it will come out in my actions. But what Jesus warns is that the line is crossed from the time we accept a sin as something we are willing to do.
God understands all of this. He looks at what you truly think and what you accept or reject. He knows what you did or did not do and He knows why. There is no need to fear judgment because you wrestle with temptations and keep them under control. And when sin does break out because you slip, we know that God will forgive if we admit our faults. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). God is faithful -- that means He is worthy of your trust in Him. God is just -- that means He is fair in His decisions. God promises to forgive our sins, and God always keeps His word.