What Does the Bible Say About Fantasizing?

Fantasizing. Daydreaming. Letting your mind wander. We all do it from time to time. Sometimes our fantasies are harmless and can even be inspiring or motivating. Other times, they can lead us down paths we know we shouldn’t go. So what does the Bible have to say about fantasizing? Quite a bit, actually.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fantasizing about sin is tempting yourself and can lead to acting out those fantasies. We must take our thoughts captive to Christ.
  • Sexual fantasizing outside of marriage is clearly prohibited. Fantasizing about someone other than your spouse is emotional adultery.
  • Coveting and greed start as sinful fantasies about what we don’t have but think we deserve.
  • Replaying offenses keeps wounds fresh. We should bring those thoughts to God rather than fantasizing about revenge.
  • Imagining and aspiring toward God-given dreams and goals can be beneficial, as long as we submit our plans to the Lord.
  • Daydreaming too much can make us unproductive and ineffective for God’s Kingdom. Our thoughts should be focused on Christ.
  • The Holy Spirit can renew our minds and transform sinful thought patterns and fantasies. Our fantasy life is a spiritual battleground.
  • Bringing all fantasies under God’s light and scrutiny, and rejecting those not pleasing to Him, is key to living in obedience.

Now let’s look at what the Bible says about different types of fantasizing and how we can align our thought lives more fully with God’s Word.

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What Does the Bible Say About Fantasizing?

Fantasizing About Sin

The Bible warns us that sinful desires floating around in our imaginations can ultimately lead to acting out those very sins. James 1:14-15 explains how temptation develops: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (NKJV)

When we entertain sinful thoughts, we are in essence fertilizing them, allowing them to take root and grow. If we water those sinful seedlings with continued indulgence in our fantasies, eventually they can lead us to act them out.

That’s why taking our sinful thoughts captive is so important. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us 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.” (NKJV)

Rather than toys with sinful ideas, we need to capture them and reject them as soon as they pop into our heads. Philippians 4:8 gives us a test for which kinds of thoughts are worthy to dwell on:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (NKJV)

Take lustful fantasies for example. When we entertain lustful thoughts instead of fleeing from them, it gets increasingly difficult to resist acting out those desires through pornography, inappropriate relationships, and other harmful behaviors.

Matthew 5:27-30 makes this danger clear:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (NKJV)

While Jesus isn’t advocating literal self-mutilation, He warns us graphically about the dangers of indulging in sexual fantasies. If what we imagine leads us into sin, drastic measures may be required to keep our thoughts captive to Christ.

The bottom line is that letting our minds dwell on sinful desires is inciting and inflaming those desires. We can’t control what thoughts may pop into our heads, but we can control whether we nurture them or capture them for Christ.

Sexual Fantasies Outside of Marriage

Sexual fantasizing is of particular concern when done outside a marital relationship. God created sex to unite husband and wives, not to fuel individual fantasies.

Matthew 5:27-28, discussed above, makes it clear that fantasizing about someone sexually equates to adultery in God’s eyes.

1 Corinthians 7:2 adds, “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” (NKJV)

Notice it doesn’t say “let each man fantasize about whoever he wants.” Our sexual energy is to be directed solely toward our spouse.

Some might argue fantasizing keeps them from actual cheating. But as we’ve discussed, indulging in sinful thoughts fertilizes them and increases temptation. Married men should fantasize only about their wives, and wives only about their husbands. Anything else is dangerous emotional and spiritual adultery.

Consider these powerful words from Job 31:1-12:

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? For what is the allotment of God from above, And the inheritance of the Almighty from on high? Is it not destruction for the wicked, And disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does He not see my ways, And count all my steps?

“If I have walked with falsehood, Or if my foot has hastened to deceit, Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity. If my step has turned from the way, Or my heart walked after my eyes, Or if any spot adheres to my hands, Then let me sow, and another eat; Yes, let my harvest be rooted out.

“If my heart has been enticed by a woman, Or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door, Then let my wife grind for another, And let others bow down over her. For that would be wickedness; Yes, it would be iniquity deserving of judgment.” (NKJV)

This passage makes it abundantly clear that not just adultery itself, but even emotional cheating through lustful fantasy, is utter wickedness.

In summary, sexual fantasizing outside of marriage, whether about a real person or imaginary, is terribly dangerous and violates God’s design for sexuality and marriage. We should avoid it completely and take drastic measures if necessary to capture those thoughts and purify our minds.

Coveting and Greed

Coveting – fantasizing about and excessively desiring what others have – is strongly condemned throughout Scripture. The Ten Commandments forbid it:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17 NKJV)

Jesus listed covetousness alongside many other sins like sexual immorality, theft, and adultery that defile us (Mark 7:20-23).

Paul warned against covetousness multiple times, saying in Ephesians 5:3, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints.” (NKJV)

Why is covetousness so dangerous? Because when we covet, we feel entitled to something we have no rightful claim to. Coveting traps us in resentment, jealousy, and bitterness over what others have. It leads us into the sin of idolatry, putting earthly things in God’s rightful place.

Coveting takes many forms. We might covet a neighbor’s new car, wishing we had the same status symbol. We can covet the success or position of others at work. Teenagers covet popularity among peers. The “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality is all about coveting.

Social media exacerbates this covetousness by putting the carefully curated lives of others on display. But Proverbs 14:30 warns, “A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.” (NKJV)

Instead of comparing ourselves to others, Scripture urges us to be content with what God has given us.

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 NKJV)

The antidote to a covetous heart is finding our identity and worth in Christ alone. If He defines us, we don’t need the possessions or positions others have.

Coveting also leads to greed when our fantasies about having more go unchecked. Greed causes us to trust in money rather than God. Jesus warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15 NKJV)

Instead of greedily fantasizing about what we want, Scripture urges us to be generous with what we have. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NKJV)

Keeping our thought lives free of covetousness and greed pleases God and protects us from much sin.

Fantasies of Revenge

When others wrong us, our natural reaction may be to fantasize about getting even. “They’ll regret what they did to me,” we tell ourselves. Or we mentally replay the offense over and over, which only embeds bitterness more deeply into our hearts.

But Scripture expressly warns against vengeance and calls us to forgiveness:

“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19 NKJV)

Holding onto offenses through vengeful fantasies gives the devil a foothold in our lives. Ephesians 4:26-27 counsels, “Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (NKJV)

Rather than imagining ways to get back at those who’ve hurt us, Jesus calls us to pray for them, forgive them, and return good for evil, leaving vengeance to Him:

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you… But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” (Luke 6:27-28, 35 NKJV)

Our human tendency is to replay offenses and stir up our anger. But God’s way is to release the situation and the offender into His hands, trusting Him to deal justly. This frees us from bitter roots that can defile many (Hebrews 12:15).

When tempted to indulge in vengeful fantasies, turn your mind instead to thanksgiving and blessings for that person. This short circuits bitterness and crucifies the flesh. As Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (NKJV)

Aspiring to God-Given Dreams

While some fantasies are clearly sinful and dangerous, envisioning and aspiring toward certain dreams can be beneficial. God puts vision, purpose and holy desires in our hearts. Our role is to submit those plans fully to Him in prayer.

Consider these verses that speak positively about aspiring toward God-given dreams:

“Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 NKJV)

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24 NKJV)

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)

As we delight in God and seek Him wholeheartedly, He shapes our desires and dreams. When we submit those dreams to Him in prayer rather than indulging in them selfishly, He graciously brings them to fruition in His perfect timing and way.

God-given dreams require faith and work to achieve, but if He plants a vision for something good, we can confidently aspire to it. Daring to believe for His promises to be fulfilled in our lives brings glory to God.

At the same time, we should hold our dreams with open hands. If God redirects us, we trust His wisdom and discernment. God looks at the heart while man looks at the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). His way is higher than our way (Isaiah 55:8-9). Submission to Christ means surrendering our greatest dreams if He asks it of us.

Within these wise boundaries, aspiring to what God puts in our hearts is healthy. But we must ensure our thoughts and plans remain fully surrendered to Him.

Daydreaming and Distraction

What about daydreaming or letting our imaginations wander into neutral territory? Sometimes an idle mind can lead us places we shouldn’t go. Past experiences and future worries can also occupy our thoughts when not reined in.

Scripture warns against the sluggard who wastes hour after idle hour daydreaming rather than working heartily for the Lord:

“I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.’” (Proverbs 24:30-34 NKJV)

Many other passages warn against laziness, sleeping too much, and wasting time. Redeeming the time and staying purposefully focused honors the Lord. Idle wandering thoughts can distract us from wholehearted obedience and service to God.

Even nostalgia about the past or worry about the future can be fruitless if we get stuck rehearsing memories or events not placed into God’s hands. Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (NKJV)

Rather than idle daydreaming or worry, Scripture calls us to focus our minds fully on Christ:

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)

Keeping our thoughts centered on Jesus throughout each day keeps us spiritually anchored. Idle mental drifting can indicate a lack of trust in God’s presence and purpose for our lives. Our thought lives need diligent guarding.

Renewing Our Minds

Perhaps you identify with certain sinful fantasies discussed here, or struggle with covetousness, greed, vengeance, or distraction. The good news is that the Holy Spirit renews our minds as we submit to Him. We are not helplessly enslaved to fleshly thought patterns.

Paul exhorts, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV) As the Spirit transforms and renews us, He helps us overcome fleshly fantasies and desires.

Paul also encourages, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5 NKJV) We have a choice whether to set our minds on sinful things or spiritual things as we walk in the Spirit daily.

Paul himself exemplified this vigilance over his thought life:

“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV)

As we saturate our minds in Scripture and receive empowerment from Christ through prayer and worship, the Holy Spirit renews our thought patterns. Old fantasies and desires lose their grip as we fix our eyes on Jesus.

He promises in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (NKJV) Keeping our thoughts centered on Christ brings victory over the mental battles we face.

Paul exhorts us to take every thought captive to Christ who lives in us by His Spirit (2 Corinthians 10:5). He also reminds us that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Therefore, we need not be enslaved to vain imaginations and can tear down mental strongholds through His power (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Walking in continual repentance and obedience positions us to receive the Spirit’s help in renouncing sinful fantasies. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

This cleansing includes the defiled mind and imagination. As we reject fleshly thoughts and immerse our minds in Scripture, the Holy Spirit renews and transforms us. Bad thought habits developed over many years can become new healthy thought patterns as we cooperate with Him.

Bringing Every Thought Captive

The crucial question becomes: How can we practically take every thought captive and reject fantasies that dishonor God? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Daily saturate your mind in Scripture, hiding it in your heart through memorization.
  2. Continually pray the Psalms, which model crying out to God when oppressed by evil thoughts.
  3. Reject fleshly imaginations immediately; don’t entertain them.
  4. Avoid exposure to media that could ignite sinful fantasies.
  5. Confess and repent of fleshly thoughts often to receive cleansing.
  6. Worship and praise God continually with songs and hymns.
  7. Take sinful thoughts captive by considering Christ’s sacrifice.
  8. Recognize that winning the thought battle determines your spiritual victory.
  9. envision behaving righteously, not indulging in sin when tempted.
  10. Ask other spiritually mature believers to hold you accountable for your thought life.

In summary, giving no quarter to sinful fantasies is essential for living a life of obedience to Christ. Scripture makes clear how high the stakes are in this mental battle. Our imaginations and thought lives are a battleground where God’s Kingdom collides with the powers of darkness.

But in Christ, we can walk in consistent victory as we bring every thought under His Lordship. We have the mind of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome! God promises that as we fix our eyes on Jesus and fill our minds with His truth, sinful fantasies will fade in the light of His glory and grace. May His name be praised as we align every thought with His perfect will.

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