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 three 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