A 13-year-old goes into his bedroom and turns on his computer. Pretty typical so far. Within a few seconds, he sends a fictitious representation of himself out into cyberspace. This fictitious character, created by our 13-year-old friend, is a criminal. The criminal decides to rob a bank, and in the process shoots four people. This teenager spends one hour playing this game, enjoying every minute, and makes up various crime scenarios. Another hour goes by and homework that evening suffers.
Harmless make-believe? Not really. The scenario described is, in fact, a real trend as teenagers enter the world of cyberspace. According to a recent U.S. News & World Report article (May 21, 2007, p. 66), some are creating "avatars" (or virtual representative of themselves) and using the computer to instruct their avatar to do just about anything.
The article mentions a 15-year-old who pretended that her avatar was a "cyberprostitute." The immoral behavior in this "parallel life" has been rationalized away as harmless because it was only make believe.
What does the Bible say about pretending to harm others? And what does the Bible say about acting out an imaginary life of prostitution? Is it just harmless fun?
Thoughts are important
God's Word is very plain in this regard. God clearly explains that we are responsible for all of the thoughts and attitudes that come through our minds. Evil thoughts should be replaced by good thoughts before these thoughts become sin. Harmful attitudes should also be replaced by wholesome attitudes.
God tells us we are to cast down "arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5 2 Corinthians 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×, emphasis added). Proverbs 23:7 Proverbs 23:7For as he thinks in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, said he to you; but his heart is not with you.
American King James Version×says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." And Jesus made it clear that dwelling on wrong thoughts in one's mind is sin (compare Matthew 5:28 Matthew 5:28But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
American King James Version×).
The real person, the one we really are, is made up of the sum total of our innermost thoughts. We are responsible for our thoughts, no matter how makebelieve they may seem to be.
Bad thoughts often come into our minds, seemingly out of nowhere. The Bible refers to these thoughts as "fiery darts" thrown at us by the devil (Ephesians 6:16 Ephesians 6:16Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
American King James Version×). The devil did so with Judas: "The devil ... put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot ... to betray Him" (John 13:2 John 13:2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
American King James Version×). Judas, instead of repenting of those thoughts and throwing them out of his mind, dwelt on them and let them grow into a plan. Then he carried out the plan of betraying Jesus. He should have rejected those bad thoughts immediately!
The book of James tells us that we all are tempted and that if we continue to desire that bad temptation, it will give birth to sin, which, if not repented of, results in death (James 1:12-15 James 1:12-15  Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him.
 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man:
 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
American King James Version×). We are responsible for our thoughts; we must cast any and every evil thought out of our minds before it festers.
Keys to overcoming
One good way to overcome bad thoughts is to replace them with good thoughts. Romans 12:21 Romans 12:21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
American King James Version×tells us, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Think on positive things. Get some exercise. Listen to good music. Even petting the family dog can help us reject negative thoughts!
Exercise restraint when you use the Internet. You may think no one is watching you as you click on various Web sites, but truly God and His angels see all that you do. Avoid the porn sites. Get the software to block them. Don't make friends with strangers in some chat room just because they sound so genuine. They could actually be predators who may try to meet you. Don't create avatars that break the Ten Commandments. Don't even enter the world of cyber make believe.
God urges us to always keep our thoughts pure, to think on things that are true and good (Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
American King James Version×). Godly thinking leads to positive behavior and a happy life. Negative thinking leads to negative behavior and a depressing, unhappy life.
Above all, we need to strive to please God every day. As the Psalms say, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart [the thoughts in my mind] be acceptable in Your sight" (Psalms 19:14 Psalms 19:14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
American King James Version×).
And if you have a fantasy avatar that is involved in bank robbery, prostitution or other sin, why not get on your computer and delete it? VT