Sunday Sermon: ‘Don’t Let Life Get You Down’ pt 3

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Philippians 4
8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

What do you think about during the course of a day? Sometime back I read that the average person thinks 10,000 thoughts per day. Mark Twain said – “A man’s life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself.” In Proverbs 23:7 we read – “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Thousands of thoughts go through our mind each day and only we ourselves knows what most of those thoughts are about. Yet what we think reveals who we are and who we will become.

Do you sometimes struggle with your thought life? The greatest spiritual battle a believer faces is the battle for their mind. There are at least three reasons why we have to constantly fight this battle.

(1) The world. We live in a world that is consumed with things that are evil and many of these things are constantly set before us things so that they might produce within us impure thoughts.

(2) Our flesh. Whenever the Bible speaks of our flesh, it is referring to our fallen nature which has an appetite for sin. The biggest part of our fleshly nature lies within our fallen mind.

  • James tells us – “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn awayof his own lust, – and enticed.” (Js 1:14)
  • Dwight Pentecost, D.T.S. – “The greatest area of sin in the believer’s life is not the area of actions – but the area of thought. There is a whole classification of sins that we would have to call sins of the mind. What was the first sin of Lucifer? It was pride. What is that? A sin of the mind. What is lust? A sin of the mind. What is covetousness? A sin of the mind. Greed? A sin of the mind.”
  • Someone else has said, “No one commits outward sins without first having committed them in his mind.

(3) The devil. Can the devil get into our mind? Certainly the devil can have great influence upon our thoughts. Perhaps more than trying to get into our mind, Satan is a master of planting seeds that will produce sinful thoughts. When Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he used the power of suggestion in order to cause her to doubt the goodness, wisdom and authority of God. “Yea, hath God said…” he  reasoned with her mind. He does the same thing today. He tried to use the same method with the Lord Jesus and he even went so far as to sprinkle some scripture on it to make his deception seem more logical. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that he is very active in attacking the minds of those who aren’t Christians so that they might not be able to recognize the truth.

Are you struggling with your thought life? Is Satan in the process of building a “spiritual stronghold” in your mind of anger or bitterness, lust or greed, pride or envy, doubt or discouragement? As believers we must do as Paul wrote to the Corinthians . We must bring every thought into subjection and under obedience to Christ. How do we do this? Do we simply say, “I’ll never have a sinful thought again? Try it and let me know if it works.

Paul tells us –

Philippians 4
8  … think on these things.

There are eight characteristics of a godly thought-life. Let me take you through them quickly and make a brief comment about each.

1. Whatsoever Things are Honest

We use the word honest to describe a person we can trust. But the specific Greek word Paul used that was translated as honest means – {Honorable, respectable, dignified} Things that are noble in nature and character. Or in other words, think respectable thoughts.

Disciplining ourselves to think only respectable thoughts is crucial. Here’s why. For one thing, what we think is going to have a tremendous amount of influence upon what we do. But secondly, we’re the only ones who really knows what’s going on in our minds. The mind is a secret world and therefore it is highly susceptible to condoning and harboring certain sins. Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (Job 31:3 NLT) We need to make a covenant with our mind that we will only entertain thoughts that are noble in nature and worthy of respect.

2. Whatsoever Things are Just

In some ways, the category of just thoughts could cover everything Paul is mentioning. But perhaps what Paul was specifically trying to say was that our thoughts should be in perfect harmony with God’s standards, His nature and His will. Today you can get filters to put on your TV and even on the internet to help protect you and your family from offensive language and images. Here’s a filter that we need to put on our mind – “Can I think these thoughts and still be just in the sight of God?”

3. Whatsoever Things are Pure

It goes without saying that the Christian’s thought-life must be pure. Actually the word Paul used here means – ‘holy.’ No wonder Christ considers lustful thoughts to be the same as adultery. God can read our mind just as easily as He can observe our actions and therefore sinful thoughts are as much of an offense to His holiness as sinful deeds.

Since we’re on this subject, let me take this even a step further and remind us all of a couple of things the Bible teaches about purity of mind and character.

Ephesians 5 NLT
12  It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.

In 1 Tim 2:9, Paul refers to the Christian character of ‘shamefacedness’, and especially so in women. What does ‘shamefacedness’ mean? Shamefacedness refers to a character that is so pure that it blushes over sin and rather than discuss it openly, it lowers its eyes in embarrassment whenever sin is mentioned. We live in a world that has become numb to sin. Men’s consciences are seared with a hot iron. We’re fascinated with reality TV and the raw facts and the result is that God is turning our society over to a reprobate mind. Yet we as followers of the Lord should strive to have the mind of Christ.

4. Whatsoever Things are Lovely

It seems that this has to do with the thoughts that we think about others. John MacArthur writes – “The implication is we are to focus on whatever is kind or gracious.” Vincent’s NT Word Studies defines it as thoughts that – “to excite love” or in other words, causes us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

One of the great problems many Christians have with their thought life is ill feelings towards others. They harbor these ill feelings in their minds which produces sins such as: malice, anger and slander.  Do you struggle with judging people and slandering their character? Do you know why you do? It’s because you allow sinful thoughts about them to linger in your mind. Long before you are sinning against them with your mouth, you are sinning against them in your mind. Yet Paul teaches us that the thoughts a believer thinks must be ‘just’ in the sight of God. Here’s a question we need to ask ourselves whenever we are struggling with negative thoughts – “Are these kind of thoughts justified? Can I think these kind of thoughts and still be innocent in the sight of God?” If we are willing to think thoughts that we know are sinful in the sight of God, then perhaps we’re a greater sinner than the person with whom we are angry.

5. Whatsoever Things are of Good Report

Things that are excellent and first rate. One Bible commentary writes – “We need to focus on the positive rather than the negative.”

6. If There Be Any Virtue

Virtue means: purity, modesty, morally upright.  Peter writes in 2 Peter 1 that our ambition as a Christian should be the pursuit of virtue which will bring moral goodness in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

7. If There Be Anything Praiseworthy

It seems that Paul was concluding by saying – “Whatever else that is excellence and fit for praise.”

Philippians 4
8  …think on these things.

Paul wrote this as a Greek Imperative which means that it is a command. Rejoice in the Lord always is not a suggestion. It’s a command for the Christian. Be anxious about nothing but pray about everything is not wishful thinking. It’s a command for the Christian. Think on things that are virtuous and praise worthy is not the power of positive thinking. It is a command for the Christian.

Literally Paul is saying, “Let your mind continuously dwell on these things.”

Now if you are paying close attention, you may have noticed that I said that there were eight characteristics and covered only seven. And if you are following along with me in your Bible, you will have noticed that I skipped the very first characteristic – ‘whatsoever things are true.’ That wasn’t a mistake on my part. I intentionally skipped the first one because I believe that in many ways, the other seven are the fruit of the first one.

8. Whatsoever things are true

Philippians 4
8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true…

The primary focus on these three messages has been dealing with the problems of life. “Don’t Let Life Get You Down.” There is a lot in life to get us down, but one of the primary reasons we struggle so much in life is because we allow the devil to plant in our minds thoughts that are untrue. Jesus said that Satan is a liar and the father of all lies. Whether it’s anger or anxiety, the only way to defeat such negative thoughts is with the truth found in God’s Word.

CONCLUSION

Once upon a time there was a young man who had a very deep relationship with the Lord. Perhaps very few people have ever been as close to God as this young man. But as time passed by and the young man became older, life had a way of crowding into his relationship with the Lord and due to things like success, power and prestige, the man began to take his relationship with the Lord for granted. Unknowingly, all along the way, Satan was planting seeds of sin and waiting for the right opportunity to reap a harvest.

One day, the man found himself in a situation where he was overcome with lust. Because his relationship with the Lord was not what it should have been, he gave into his lust and committed adultery and conceived a child by another man’s wife. At first he looked for ways to cover up his sin, until the Lord stepped in and broke him. The man was crushed. How could have ever allowed himself to get so far away from God?

But God is merciful and gracious and was willing to forgive the man. In his prayer of repentance, the man prayed –

You are kind, God! Please have pity on me. You are always merciful!

Please wipe away my sins. Wash me clean from all of my sin and guilt.

I know about my sins, and I cannot forget what I have done.

You are really the one I have sinned against;

I have disobeyed you and have done wrong.

You want complete honesty, so teach me true wisdom.

Create pure thoughts in me and make me faithful again.

That man was David, found in the Bible and I couldn’t help but think that if he had just prayed that kind of prayer all along, things wouldn’t have happened the way they did. If only he had protected his thought-life, his actions would have been different. What about you? Are you playing with thoughts that you know are wrong in the sight of God? Are you being deceived into believing that as long as no one knows what you’re thinking, it’s OK? How long do you think it will be until Satan gives you the opportunity to act out your thoughts? How long do you think it will be until you have to give an account for your thoughts?

Today is the best day to turn around in your thought-life. Get into the Word of God and let it examine the thoughts and intents of your heart. Only then will the Lord be able to keep you in perfect peace.

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