I am not surprised by some of the many outstanding answers already shared and articulated so well.
I will just add a few thoughts I have on some of these.
- I would encourage you to watch this video
You were the one to turn me onto Dr. Walton in one of your posts about the flood. I am loving the perspective he has on so much of the Bible.
But we can attempt to come up with potential possible explanations and like you, at times I like to attempt to understand and explain them, which is ok. BUT as long as we don’t forget who God is and trust in who He is. We can stand firm in the raging seas and trials like Behemoth, with our strong ‘legs’ rooted in the foundation of God. Can you tame Leviathan? Or a lion, or a pack of wolves (insert un-tamable animal). Did you create that un-tamable animal(s)? God did, don’t try to “out-God God”. Again, like you, I get being curious and learning more about God, but try not to think you could do a better job, which we kind of do when we feel compelled to explain God, and just trust in His just, mercy, patience, and love that He demonstrated many times, the least of them being sending His Son to redeem us when He didn’t have to, He owes us nothing.
Sinning is missing the mark, an archery term. But you can’t miss the mark if you never shot. You can’t reject God if you don’t have the capacity to understand/know Him.
But you also can’t think of hell as a punishment place, but more of a reality. Heaven is a place for those who have learned who God is, and know that He created us to know and glorify Him and to depend on Him to help us do that. If you don’t want to have a god in charge of you, you pridefully want to be in charge of your destiny and think you know what is best for you, heaven won’t be the place for you. In a sense, you want to go to hell, you want to be separate from God. It would do no good for a sinful man to be categorically forgiven or earn heaven if they didn’t want to depend on or live to glorify God.
@Christy nailed with her definition, but I will add an a way I like to think of it. As with many things, my mind comes up with analogies. Yuu have the thought side, the dwelling/focusins fence and the acting side. There is nothing at all ever wrong with any thoughts, we have zero direct control of our thoughts.
Though we do have great indirect control of our thoughts, which is why we are instructed “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil 4:8 We are also recommended to put on the armor of God to fight/prevent these things. Or praying and getting our daily bread is another great indirect way to control our thoughts. Really in that sense, God wants to control our thoughts. We would never sin if we allowed God to control our thoughts. Not in the robotic sense, but our willingly giving up our minds to focus on Him.
But I digress.
We don’t have direct control of our thoughts, it is ok for a thought to jump in our minds, but it is when we begin to dwell/focus on it, that is when it begins to gray. If you have a thought, you can never fall over the fence, but when you dwell on something, you are basically on the fence, you might fall, or you might not, but you CAN fall when standing/balancing on top of the fence. And again obviously the other side of the fence is the act.
When you focus on that terrible act, you think about how you could do it, get away with it, how much you might enjoy it, how much temporary pleasure you might get from it ect. At that point, what is preventing you from doing it? Because you might get caught or there are consequences? It probably isn’t because you love God, or your mind probably wouldn’t be focusing on it that much.
It was always about the heart, not the actions. But if you worry about not sinning or trying not to sin, you are living under the law and are doomed to fail.
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth” Col 3:2
“The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” Rom 8:6
"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law." 1 Cor 15:56
I spoke above about how to avoid/reduce bad thoughts above, but if one pops in your head, don’t dwell on it, Jesus defeated the power of sin! He lives in us! Focus on Him, and you will no longer dwell or act on it. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!”
I have nothing to add to the last two questions from what was already said.