Philippians 4:6-9 - Putting Off Thoughts of Worry

Dr. Steve Viars January 6, 1996 Philippians 4:6-9

- we're in the "pull over and park" mode in Phil. 4:6-9.
- we've decided to take several weeks and expand this important section
of Scripture.

- in these verses, we find a "formula for joy"
- Paul said in verse 4 -- "rejoice in the Lord always, and again I
say rejoice."

- Many in our world today might respond to that with -- "that's
great, but how do I do that?"
- "How can I have joy, and rejoice in the Lord, in the midst of
all the pressures and difficulties I face each day?"

- Paul answers that question with a very important three-step formula
in verses 6-9.
- INPUT - What is that three-step formula?

(right praying - v. 6, right thinking - v. 8, right doing - v. 9)

(READ 6-9)

- let's take a moment and think about how these three ideas comprise a
very important package
- each one is essential to getting the job done
- another way of saying that is -- each step is important, but
they are incomplete by themselves.
- i.e. - you can't "just pray", you can't "just work on your
thinking", you just "just do right"
- you have to have all three.

- now, why is that true?
- INPUT - What would be wrong with trying to grow, change, and please
God by "just praying?"

- (it would be hypocritical prayer unless we were also willing
to be part of the solution by changing our thinking and our

- INPUT - What would be wrong with trying to grow, change, and please
God by "just changing our thinking?

- INPUT - What would be wrong with trying to grow, change, and please
God by "just changing our behavior?"

- the point is -- these verses are giving a very important package, and
a very complete package.

- for the last couple of weeks, we've been expanding verse 8.
- we've been using the book "In The Arena of the Mind" by John

- one of the reasons we've selected this book is because we've had a
number of counselees who have told us that this book has been a
significant help to them.

- in a couple of cases, it was even a situation where the person was
doing pretty poorly--and the Lord used the message of this book
and the biblical truths it contains to help the person make a real

- in the last two weeks, Pastor Goode taught us about two possible
areas of sinful thinking:
"retaliatory thoughts," and "woe is me" thoughts.

- this morning, we're going to study:

"Putting Off Thoughts Of Worry and Fear"

- these two ideas are obviously related
- one often occurs where the other is present...
- its not unusual for us to have thinking---that if we stopped and
sorted it all out----there would be elements of both worry and
fear present.

- so let's take them together this morning -- and think about how
we can handle these kinds of thoughts biblically.

I. What Is Worry And Fear?

A. Worry

- the word that is often translated as "worry" or "anxious" in
the Bible literally means "a mind that is divided"

- an example is Matthew 6:34 - "Therefore do not worry about
tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has
enough trouble of its own."

- so we're talking about a mind that is divided...
- when we worry -- we are not focused on the Scripture
- we're not focused on the goodness of God or His other
- we're not focused on the privilege of prayer (Casting all
your care upon Him...)

- Because this is true -- the One who understands us the most,
our Lord, designed that even the word that is used for word
emphasize this idea of a divided mind.

- John Edmund Haggai, wrote:

"Peace of mind requires a singleness of mind. The worrier
robs himself of peace of mind by dividing his thoughts.
- Worry divides the understanding, therefore convictions
are shallow and changeable.
- Worry divides the faculty of perception, therefore
observations are faulty and even false.
- Worry divides the faculty of judging, therefore
attitudes and decisions are often unjust.
- Worry divides the determinative faculty, therefore
plans and purposes, if no scrapped altogether, are not
fulfilled with persistence.
- Worry in the extreme leads to abulia, `loss of power to
will.' Why? The mind is so divided it cannot act in one
channel. It is like the mule who stood between two
haystacks and starved to death trying to decide from
which stack to eat."

- let's try to develop that some more ourselves:

INPUT - Worry causes our thoughts to be divided between
__________ (something right) and _____________
(something wrong).

- now of course, in this section we're not talking about right kind of
concern and right kind of planning
- but when we worry, we fill our minds with thoughts that do not
meet the criteria of Phil. 4:8

- INPUT - An example of "worrisome thoughts" that violate the
criteria laid out in Phil. 4:8?

- let's talk about this in one more way before we add "fear" to the

- INPUT - What are some things that Philadelphian class members might
be tempted to worry about?

B. Fear

Jay Adams has said of fear:

Love looks for opportunities to give; it asks `What can I do
for another?' Fear keeps a wary eye on the possible
consequences and asks `What will he do to me?' Love thinks no
evil; fear thinks of little else.
Love labors doing today's tasks and is so busy that it has no
time to worry about tomorrow, fear fails to undertake
responsibilities today. Love leads to greater love -fulfilling
one's obligations brings joy and peace and satisfaction and
greater joy and devotion to the work. Fear, in turn, occasions
greater fear, since failure to assume responsibilities brings
additional fear of acting irresponsibly. Love is self-giving;
fear is self-protecting. Love moves toward others; fear
shrinks away from them."

- INPUT - What passage of Scripture is Jay relating the concept of fear
to in this quote?

- I John 4:18 (develop)

- so that’s the package we're looking at this morning -- when we think
about the kind of sinful thinking that people like you and me often
need to put off...
- fear and worry make the list much more regularly than they

- let me give you a personal example.
- this one was so obvious -- it was almost comical.
- I'll let you apply the truth to me.

- I began working on this lesson Wednesday morning.
- as you recall, we had the big snowstorm Tuesday evening.

- we also got the brainy idea of trying something different in
our outreach by going around the neighborhoods offering to
shovel their drives and sidewalks.
- that sounded like a pretty good idea Tuesday evening, and the
deacons contacted as many people as they could.

- the problem is -- I woke up Wednesday morning with a "divided

- INPUT - What kinds of things do you think I worried about?
(or was afraid of).

- INPUT - Using the principles of Phil. 4:6-9, how would you
have encouraged me to overcome that worry and fear?


- the irony of it was -- a lot of folks turned out, and the
response was great (develop -- some of the things that

- but the point is -- it was almost laughable that I was
preparing a message on worry---and simultaneously struggling
with it.
- Frankly, it gave a great opportunity to think about why this
subject is so important.
- now, let's move this one step further:

II. How Might Wrong Habits of Worry and Fear Affect Us Physically?

Read parts of quote from None of These Diseases, VanderGriff,
p. 32ff

III. What Are Possible Long-Term Affects of Worry and Fear?

INPUT - How would you answer this question? If we don't work on
controlling our thinking in these areas, what might happen?

- Vandergriff mentions three:

A. Pessimism

- bird dog joke

B. Immobilization

C. Distrust of God

cf. Prov. 3:5-6

IV. Overcoming These Sinful Patterns of Thinking

A. Ask, "Specifically what am I thinking?"

B. Compare those thoughts to the criteria of Phil. 4:8

C. Confess thoughts that violate Phil. 4:8

D. Ask, "What should I be thinking?"

E. Ask, "What should I be doing?"

F. Ask, "What are my responsibilities today?"

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video