SINNING BY MEANS OF THOUGHT. ADULTERY
5. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew, 5: 27 & 28).
6. Under no circumstances should the word adultery be accepted in the exclusive sense to which it is commonly applied, but rather it should be understood in more general terms. Jesus used it many times in an extensive sense to designate evil, sin and every type of bad thought, as for example in this passage: " Whosoever therefore, shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He commeth in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark, 8: 38).
True pureness is not only in behaviour but also in thought, since the person who has a pure heart does not even think evil. Jesus wished to say that He condemned sin even in thought, because it is a sign of impurity.
7. This principle naturally leads to the following question: Do we suffer consequences for a bad thought even if it is not followed by the actual action?
At this point it is necessary to make an important distinction. As the soul advances along its path to evolution and spiritualization, it will slowly become enlightened, and so little by little divest itself of its imperfections according to the greater or lesser goodwill it demonstrates within its freewill.
Therefore all evil thoughts result from the imperfections of the soul. But according to the strength of the desire to purify itself, the evil thought becomes a means of advancement when it is energetically repelled. This is an indication of a positive action by the soul in order to extinguish a blemish. In this way it will not give in to the temptation to satisfy an evil desire, and having resisted, the soul feels itself to be stronger and content with the victory.
On the contrary, the person who has made no good resolutions will look for every opportunity to practice evil, and if this is not achieved it will not be for the wanting, but for the lack of opportunity. This person then will be just as guilty as if he or she had actually committed evil.
To summarize, a certain degree of progress has already been achieved by the person who does not conceive the idea of committing evil; for the person who feels the urge but constantly repells it, progress is in the process of realization; for the person who thinks in terms of evil, taking pleasure in these thoughts, then the evil still exists in all its strength. In the one the work has been done, whereas in the other it is still to be started. But being just, God takes into account all these gradations when it comes to individual responsibilities for acts and thoughts.