Philippians 4:8 - Putting Off Thoughts of Lust

Dr. Steve Viars January 13, 1996 Philippians 4:8


- this morning we're going to jump back into our study of Phil. 4:4-9
- remember, we've been talking about this "three step formula for joy
    and godly living"
      - right praying
      - right thinking
      - right doing

- I mentioned to you last week that we're in the "pull over and park"
   mode on Phil. 4:8 -- and the matter of "putting off wrong thinking"
   and then replacing it with the kind of thinking that is described in
   this text (Phil. 4:8).

- Our goal right now is to list different categories of wrong thinking
   that you and I can get caught up in if we don't work at controlling
   our minds.
- Over Christmas, Pastor Goode spoke to us about:
    1) retaliatory thoughts, and:   2) "woe is me" thoughts.

- last week, we tackled the twin giants of worry and fear.
- I really appreciated the way you got involved in that study, and I
   think thats probably indicative of the fact that many of us struggle
   there from time to time.

- we could spend a lot more time on those subjects, but we decided that
   since we're all ready in the "pull over and park mode," we didn't
   want to pull over and park on this "sub-topic" when we're already
   pulled over and parked on this one verse!

- BUT...since these topics are so important, we put together a handout
   that has some of the things from last weeks lesson we didn't get to.
    - let me highlight a couple of things and then suggest some
       additional resources if you'd like to do additional study.

HANDOUT -- Especially emphasize:

        1) When worry becomes sinful (from CC notes)

        2) Overcoming these sinful patterns of thinking

            (especially letters "B" and "C")

        3) Recommend additional help.  The Counseling ministry has
           lectures on both worry and fear.  Through the tape ministry,
           you can get both tapes and outlines.  They would great to
           supplement your Bible study time and would help us make the
           most of this study on overcoming sinful thoughts.

- this morning, we want to turn our attention to the important issue of
   "Putting Off Lustful Thinking."



    - It's always been intriguing to me that in the media, Biblical
      Christians have often been characterized as shallow, ignorant
      robots who have limited (and unused) mental capabilities.

    - thats surprising because it's really the opposite of Biblical
        1) Followers of Jesus Christ are thoughtful people.
        2) This is a "thinking person's faith."

        - what other group of people spend so much time corporately and
          how we ought to live?

        - add to that -- what other group puts such a high premium, not
           just on the way a person acts, but how he/she thinks?

     - let me ask you to turn over to Matthew 5:27, 28 for an example
        of what we're speaking about.

     - in this passage, Jesus is speaking about adultery -- and what
       has to be true before a person can really say that sin is not
       part of his/her life.

        - READ MATT. 5:27-28

        - point is -- people who have followed the Scriptures over the
          years have never been satisfied with "mere behavioral
            - we're talking about giving careful attention to the way
              we think.

    - in fact, bringing that down to a local church level, we're
       convinced that one of the things often determines whether a
       person is going to stay at our church is if they honestly want
       to be challenged to let God's Word help them change in both the
       outer and inner man...
          - to let the Scriptures do the cleansing work they were
             intended to do.

    - some men and women don't want to be challenged to think...much
       less to think biblically...
         - but clearly a systematic study of the Scripture is going to
            cause us to do that over and over and over.

         - this text we're looking at is a good example...
             - its not enough to avoid the sin of adultery in our
             - Jesus Christ challenges us to put off lustful thinking
               in our minds.
                 - thats a whole `nother level of commitment and

- when we talk about lust...we're talking about a strong desire.
   - in fact, the key word in the NT thats translated lust
       (epithumia), is used both positively and negatively in the Bible
          (cf. I Tim. 3:1)

- this word "gets at: much of what the Bible would tell us about human
- God had created us to be "desiring people"
    - it is that capacity that even makes it possible for us to do
       right, and to accomplish things with our lives that please Him.

    - the problem is, (as with everything God has entrusted to us), in
      our sin, we corrupt the good things God has given us.

    - lust (the capacity to desire//want) can either be a strong
      force for good, or a strong force for evil.
        - and unfortunately, far too often we would have to admit that
          our wants, our desires, our lusts, are used in ways that do
          not please God.

- let's consider a couple of more texts in an introductory way:

    I John 2:15-17

    INPUT - Observations about lust from this passage?
              (if we had time, we could talk about how Adam and Eve's
               sin fell into this three-fold failure)

    Another important text is II Sam. 11
      - thats the passage where David lusted after Bathsheba---and then
         his lust develop into adultery, and then even murder.

      - what's so challenging about that is to consider David's earlier
        life (where much was accomplished for God)
          - and read his Psalms (which express his rich relationship
              with God)
          - and then to see how far he fell because he didn't control
             his lust.

- I'd like to take the rest of our time and develop an outline that
   John Vandergriff uses in his book "In The Arena of the Mind."

I. Lust is Common

    - James 1:14-15

    - notice - "every man is tempted..."

    - the topic that we're discussing today ought to have universal
      appeal because its a universal problem.

    - cf. student in Bible college - "I've gotten complete victory over

    - let's develop this idea a little further:
        - Obviously lust can include sexual ideas, and we'd be lying if
          we didn't admit the powerful pull of that sin.
        - But as we've said earlier, lust can include anything we WANT
           more than wanting to please God.

        - INPUT - What other kinds of things might a person in the
                  Philadelphian Class lust after?
(point - lust is common)

II. Lust is Immature

    - one of the helpful comments in Vandergriff's chapter is where he
       speaks about the immaturity of lust.

    - "Love and lust are opposites. The Scripture points out that love
       is giving.  Lust is taking.  After showing the necessity of love
       and description of love in I Corinthians 13, Paul notes love's
       unfailing character.  In the midst of this description, he says
       in verse 11:
          When I was a child, I talked like a child.  I reasoned like a
          child.  When I became a man, I put childish things behind
       Love, then, is a mature thing. Paul says when he grew up, he put
       away childish things.  He put away the childish ways of
       thinking, including lust.  This he sees as being immature."

    - INPUT - What are some ways in which our lust can be unloving and
              therefore immature.

III. Lust is Selfish

    (may have to run over this quickly for sake of time)

    - Luke 12:16-21

    - (good quotes in Vandergriff, pp. 45-47

IV. Lust Doesn't Satisfy

    - one of the ideas we need to shout from the rooftops this morning
      is that lust will never satisfy.

    - thats part of the fallacy of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
       (an idea that is often accepted as truth in the management
          - a person won't reach the state of self-actualization until
            his more basic needs are met.

          - the problem is -- the more you feed a need, the more you

          - Vandergriff mentions a cigarette advertisement that said
            "they satisfy."
              - what a terrible irony.
              - thats exactly what cigarettes don't do.
              - the more you smoke, the more you want.

    - while thats true experientially, the most important thing is --
       its true biblically:

    - a great verse n this subject is:
       Ecclesiastes 5:10 - "Whoever loves money never has money enough;
          whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income."


- now, let's tie this back into Phil. 4:8

- when you and I choose to use our minds to think lustful thoughts, we
   are choosing to THINK LIES (the exact opposite of what Phil. 4:8 is
   tells us to do).

- INPUT - what are some specific ways that may be true? (where we think
          what we are lusting after will satisfy, when it won't, and
          therefore it's a lie?)

V. Lust Brings Misery

    - Prov. 13:15

    - INPUT - examples in Scripture?

    - poem from Bill Bennett's "Book of Virtues"

VI. Lust Leads Us Away From the Faith

    - Matt. 6:19-24

    - I Tim. 6:10

VII. Overcoming Lustful Thoughts

    - can use the same outline we used for worry/fear:

    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.

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