God has a great deal to say about our imagination and what occupies it. Imagination, while often translated as understanding in the Bible, is in fact much more. Imagination allows us to visualize that which is beyond our direct understanding; it is faith knowledge!
Faith knowledge is knowledge that is accepted as true, yet without direct physical evidence. God created our imaginations to allow us to comprehend Him, the eternal God, with whom we cannot have a direct physical relationship. It is only through the imagination that we, the finite, can relate to the infinite, eternal God. His truth, operating through our imagination, allows the fullness of God to be realized in our lives. Understanding God’s context is critical to our daily walk. How does eternal understanding exist other than through the imagination? A Godly walk requires the surrender of the imagination to God. The Bible clearly shows that faith is the essential ingredient for an effective relationship with God. Where does faith operate, but through the imagination?
Today, most imaginations have been trained to provide simple distractions from the unpleasantness of this world. Some see the imagination as something that can be trifled with for the sake of entertainment. It allows humanity an escape, a means of pretending things are better than they truly are. The world hails the imagination when it produces new discoveries that assist mankind in its pursuit of self-sufficiency. Educators have generally concluded that the imagination is best nurtured and stretched through fictional exposure. We are encouraged to “think outside the box”, which is only made possible through the imagination.
Often, those considering themselves rational believe the imagination has very little significance. They ridicule the imagination because it can be associated with superstition, myth, and “make-believe”. This perception has contributed in keeping God’s church from correctly deploying its imagination to discern what is of God. When God’s truth is not effectively working through the imagination of His children, the door is left wide open for Satan’s lies and deceptions. Lies of accusation imagined to be true can destroy relationships and even the sanity of the one that dares to imagine. When we are told, “You are only imagining it”, we are accused of having accepted a lie as being the truth. It is critical for God’s children to surrender their thoughts/imagination to the Lordship of God’s love and truth.
Psychiatry endeavors to deploy rational understanding to destroy irrational imaginations. When the psychologist/counselor does not view God as rational, the effectiveness of the imagination as a vital spiritual organ can be destroyed. Even when the psychologist/counselor is a believer, he/she may have little appreciation for the nature of a healthy imagination in maintaining an effective relationship with God, or the importance it has in restoration of hope and well-being to the life of the counseled. Too often amputation, rather than regeneration, of the imagination is selected as the appropriate remedy.
One can begin to understand, or imagine, the significance this God-given feature (the imagination) plays in the development of our relationship with God.
What does the Bible say?
Gen 6:5 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.
Note: Just prior to the flood, God did not exist in the imagination of man (Noah is the only exception), which led to the destruction of the world.
Gen 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination  of man's heart [is] evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
Note: After the flood, God acknowledged that man’s imagination was inherently evil.
Deu 31:21 And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination  which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.
1 Ch 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations  of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
Note: God searches and knows every thought that encompasses our imagination. If every thought is important to God, then it should also be important to us.
1 Ch 29:18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination  of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:
Note: It is in the imagination that God safely stores our recollection of the things that He has done.
Psa 103:14 For he knoweth our frame ; he remembereth that we [are] dust.
Note: It is from the imagination that the seed of creation matures. God knows that we are but dust, or the seed of His imagination.
Isa 26:3 Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind  [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.
Note: Faith is always the critical human ingredient, and even it originates with God. Perfect peace results when imaginations are stayed upon God. Worry, on the other hand, is imagination given over to fear (faithlessness).
Isa 29:16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed  say of him that framed  it, He had no understanding (8689)?
Note: Who is the created/imagined, to challenge the understanding of the Creator/Imager?
Luk 1:51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination  of their hearts. Luk 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind ; and thy neighbour as thyself.
Note: The proud are lost in their imaginations because their imaginations are not of God, but of themselves. In conclusion, we are to love God with every thought of our imagination.
Rom 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts  the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Note: Strong’s 3053 exists only twice in the Bible, here in Romans, and in 2Cor 10:5. In both cases we see a positive and negative application of the imagination.
2Cor 10:5 Casting down imaginations , and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Note: God desires nothing less for each of His children than this “bringing into captivity” every thought to the obedience of Christ. Remember it is within the imagination that every Godly thought is stored.
1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding  being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Note: God not only keeps, He enlightens our imagination, so that we may have hope and recognize eternal treasures.
Eph 2:3-8 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind ; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
Note: God has many eternal realities for us to imagine, or understand, and it is from His eternal context that our every thought should proceed.
Eph 4:18 Having the understanding  darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Note: Contrast Eph 1:18 to Eph 4:18! Which of these scriptures provide the greatest hope? Ignorance, or the misapplication of the imagination, is contrary to the will of God!
Col 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind  by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.
Note: We are to trust only in God’s reconciliation.
1Pe 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind , be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Note: We should not be sloppy with our thought life, but sober and diligent. In another words, we are to take seriously that which occupies our imagination, and recognize that only thoughts that reveal Christ’s love will produce eternal hope.
2Pe 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in which I stir up your pure minds  by way of remembrance:
Note: Memory is part of our imagination. As we know, our past can affect us in both positive and negative ways. We must remember the awful separation from God that existed before we received His grace, by faith. We must recall that it is His righteousness, and not our own, that justifies and restores us to the Father.
1Jo 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding , that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, [even] in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
Note: Our imagination enables us to understand the Truth and He that is true, Jesus Christ, the true source of eternal life.
Note: The Truth proceeds from within our imagination and creates life. The world pollutes the imagination with lies and deception. The result is a society that does not view the imagination soberly; but rather, views it as a novelty for the sake of selfish amusement, that leads to death.
Note: Herein lies the secret to a full Christian life!
Very thoughtful piece on imagination. It is too true that the one area that frightens humans the most is the pursuit of imagination. Many humans believe that their imagination should not be actively pursued after a certain age, or that they should "grow up" and face reality. I gained some wisdom from a good friend of mine who said that imagination needs to be trained constantly--especially in adulthood. One way to do that, he mentions, is by reading fiction books that present stories that require expanded imagination. The further the fiction novel gets from what humans would consider reality as seen by our own eyes, the more imagination is required to move through the reading to gain comprehension of what the author is conveying.
It isn't easy to improve your imagination without training. Our brains will typically combine a lifetime worth of images our eyes have seen and sounds our ears have heard and use that as the box with which our imagination stays within. Each time we read something new, see something new, or hear something new (that isn't part of our past experiences) that imagination box grows a little on each side. I could write a novel on music and imagination, but if we stick to the Bible and the imagination it inspires we find that everything Rick mentioned is true. In order to comprehend a spiritual realm, we must have an imagination. In order to understand that we're not able to fully comprehend our Creator (and we need to be okay with that), it requires faith (which requires imagination).
First we must soberly view the imagination and what God intended. Then we must recognize that there is a battle for our imagination. Victory is determined by whatever we surrender our imagination to. If the imagination is our personal kingdom then we must soberly ask who sits on the throne? Perhaps when we say we have received Jesus Christ as Lord then we have invited Him to occupy His rightful place within the greater context of the imagination.
We all have inner battles, battles fought within our imagination. Who, or what, will prevail and at what cost?
Paul writes, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]”.
In First Thessalonians 5:8 Paul writes, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
Are we to spend time contemplating these unseen foes, those that may mean to do us harm? Perhaps, to “be sober” in their regard is to measure and watch for their attacks.
Often, I wonder if we believe in Paul’s writings at all. Are we wrestling, or have we abandoned the battleground to darkness? How soberly does the typical Christian in America manage their imagination? Are we engaged in the struggle, are we allowing our Savior access? Do we take things within our imagination seriously?
When does an activity become an addiction, and from where within the human soul does it establish residence? If it is merely the mind, then logic should vanquish it. If we say it must be from the heart, then we probably lean closer to the truth. However, if the heart is ruled by inner feelings, then new feelings should rid old habits, and yet they don’t.
Is it possible that there is an enemy that is personally motivated to destroy our relationship with the Creator? How does this enemy have access to our most private thoughts and contemplations? How does he manipulate our thoughts and contemplations?
If there is a spiritual realm then Who, What, When, Where and in this case, always Why?