Proverbs 12:20,  Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counselors of peace is joy.

There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace. NIV

Evil is not a complicated idea to understand.

Evil, simply put, is that which is opposed to God and His purposes. (Lots of evil going on, isn't there?)

And the heart is the mixing bowl where evil is concocted.

This proverb tells us that deceit is an ingredient in that mixing bowl.

Deceit is a catching or ensnaring, therefore the misleading of a person.

It is the leading of another person to what is false or not to believe what is true and thus to ensnare him.

Your heart will even ensnare you because it is the place where evil is imaged.

The word imagine in this proverb is from the Hebrew word khaw-rash' which means to engrave, to plough (from the use of tools) to fabricate.

That is what it means to imagine.

It is as if you were making a metal plate upon which the evil is engraved.

It is as if you were engraving a memorial to the evil that is practiced in the heart.

You see, the evil is played out in the heart. The act of evil happens in the heart.

Doesn't God have a purpose for your heart?

But the images or imaginations or engravings that occur in the heart that are against God and opposed to his purposes, He calls evil.

The Bible tells us that the heart is the place where:

evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, lasciviousness, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness are accomplished.

According to the word of God the evil takes place in the heart.

Whether the physical accomplishment of what has taken place already in the heart occurs or doesn't occur, is not relevant as to whether or not evil has taken place.

Sin takes place in the heart and may or may not be expressed outwardly.

Micah 2:1 says,  Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand.

The evil is worked upon their beds during the night.

It is worked in the heart and then it is practiced when morning comes.

We see then that as far as God is concerned whether it is expressed outwardly has no bearing on the fact that evil has taken place.

Jesus said in: Mat 5:28,  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

You see the standard of God that we face?

How can a man or woman or a boy or a girl think they stand in a self-righteous state in the face of this truth?

Jesus Christ said that which takes place in the man is what defiles the man and not only that which takes place outside the man.

Proverbs 23:7 agrees,  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.

Therefore the standard of scripture is this.

I think to murder. God says I am a murderer.

I think of stealing. God says I am a thief.

I think adulterous thoughts. God says I have committed adultery.

I couch or embellish my words so as to hide my true words.

I don't express my true thoughts so as to deceive for advancement or personal gain.

I don't let my yeas be yea and my nays be nay.

The simplicity of truth is not practiced.

I use whatever is convenient.

I use exaggeration, coloring of words that promote false impressions.

I become a "maybe" kind of person, a wishy-washy kind of person so as to cover myself with acceptability.

I trim my ways to seek love!

Deceit is therefore in my heart and this keeps God from accomplishing his purpose in my heart. This then is evil.

It is good to know the truth about my heart.

It is good to know what God declares about my heart.

But if all we know is the depravity of the heart then we are most miserable.

Facing the facts about the heart and the hopelessness of the heart of man does not bring joy but brings a feeling of futility and hopelessness.

But this proverb we are studying today does not conclude with misery but it concludes with hope because it talks about peace and joy.

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counselors of peace is joy.

So this proverb compares two hearts.

One heart imagines evil. It invents all kinds of evil by the use of the tool of deceit.

Deceit is a catching or ensnaring, misleading; the leading of another person to believe what is false or not to believe what is true.

It comes from a heart that God hates.

The other heart produces joy by counseling peace. It is a heart that God loves and enjoys.

We have the heart of a troublemaker and we have the heart of a peacemaker.

And each of these produces a product. One evil and the other joy.

God tells us here that those who counsel peace will have joy.

We can conclude then that being a peacemaker is a good thing.

Are we not to be conformed to Christ if we are his?

Matthew 5:9, says about peacemakers,  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

And is not Christ our peacemaker? Read Ephesians 2:14-17,  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

So Christ is the ultimate example of one who brought peace, having slain enmity by the shedding of his blood.

Bringing peace between two warring parties requires sacrifice.

But God expects his children to be counselors of peace.

We are to emulate the spirit of love and peace of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:15 says,  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

That peace is more than a good feeling of comfort and serenity for the child of God.

As Charles Bridges writes in his commentary: The obligation of Christians is to be counselors of peace, breathing their Master's spirit of peace and love. A blessed office indeed it is! pouring in the balm of peaceful counsel upon irritated feeling. They will mediate, explain, and cover with considerate prudence all the little causes of excitement. They will bring out the strong and unchangeable obligations of Christian love. They will seize the happy moment of softening to rekindle confidence. Happy indeed are they in the joy of their own conscience, in their dignity as the children of God in the rich harvest of their Christian exertions

James 3:17,18,  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, (note first pure, can't have peace without purity) then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

"PROVERB PRACTICALS" Article in "The Projector" for Proverbs 12:20, THE HEART, THE WOMB OF EVIL