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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

18 April 2005

The Origin of Evil Thoughts

Q: How can a believer know if a bad thought is from Satan or from his own flesh?

A: Does it really make any difference? As long as we live, we’ll be assailed by Satan, tempted by the things of this world, and led astray by our own sinful imaginings. As Christ said, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. (Matthew 15:19-20)” The devil and the fallen angels (demons) may prey upon our human weakness. They may also emphasize our wicked thoughts which grow within. However, even without satanic “help,” we’re quite able to fail miserably in following God’s will and keeping ourselves pure. Thus, along with constant forgiveness we also need God’s strength to resist our own sinful desires and the temptations coming from without.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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