Philippians 4:8 - Thinking Things That Are Pure

Dr. Steve Viars March 2, 1996 Philippians 4:8

- we're working through this list of positive criteria that ought to
govern our thinking from Phil. 4:8.
- so far, we've looked at three of them:

1) whatsoever things are true...

- as opposed to that which is false

- whatsoever things are true, as opposed to that which is
disconnected from reality.

2) whatsoever things are honorable...

- as opposed to that which is frivolous.

3) and, whatsoever things are just/right

- as opposed to that which is unrighteousness, or not in
conformity to God's will and standard.

- as William Hendriksen said, "In all his planning, let the
Christian ask himself, Is this in harmony with God's will and

- this morning, we'd like to look at this fourth characteristic...
- whatsoever things are PURE.

- we've mentioned this book by John Vandergriff a number of times,
entitled "In the Arena of the Mind."
- in this chapter on this word "pure," Vandergriff makes an interesting
point from the life of King David when he says...
- the Put Off/Put On principle can also work in reverse.

- in other words, normally we think about using this principle to
change by putting off what is wrong, and replacing it with what is
- However, in David's case, he failed because he put off a habit of
pure thinking, and replacing it with thoughts that were impure.
- of course that thinking led to adultery, and then to murder.

- Kent Hughes, in his book "Liberating Ministry From The Success
Syndrome" points out what that impure thinking and subsequent actions
COST David:

"From here on David's reign went downhill, despite his laudable
repentance. Here are the terrible facts. His baby died. Then his
beautiful daughter, Tamar, was raped by her half-brother Amnon. In
turn, Amnon was murdered by Tamar's full-brother Absalom. Absalom
came to hate his father David for his moral turpitude that he led a
rebellion under the tutelage of Bathsheba's resentful grandfather,

- what's the point of this?
- the matter of "thinking thoughts that are pure" is a very important

- now, "purity" is one of those words that we know what it means, but its
not all that easy to define...without using the word itself in the
- what is purity? (to be pure)
- what does it mean to be pure? (to have purity)

- the United Bible Society's dictionary defines the original word as
"holy, chaste, set apart by or to God, consecrated, upright, and

- the original word is very closely related to the word "holy" (hagnos,

- so when we talk about pure thinking, we're talking about pure as
opposed to be stained, as opposed to being dirty, as opposed to being
immoral, or set apart to ungodliness instead of set apart to God.

- We ought to be constantly evaluating our thinking in light of the issue
of purity.

- now, someone might come along and say, "Is this even possible?", "Can a
person really being growing in purity?"
- the answer is a triumphant "Yes."
- we say that for three reasons:

1) Because believers have received the "washing of regeneration" - Titus

- the Scripture makes it clear that when a man or woman comes to
Christ, that person is made new.
- "If any man be in Christ..." - II Cor. 5:17

- the matter of even raising this subject ought to make us appreciate
the cross-work of Christ...because its only through Him that we
could even hope to make progress in the matter of purity.
- "the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit"
is intended to have a powerful effect on God's children, including
the way they think.

- another reason we can have hope as we come to this subject is:
2) In Christ, we have been set free from slavery to sin - Rom. 6:17-18

- READ Rom. 6:17-18

- we all brought habits of impure thinking into our Christian
- some more than others and some in different ways than others...
- but regardless of the nature of the problem, or the extent of
the problem, the blood of Jesus Christ has set us free from
enslavement to those habits.

- we can change, we can become better stewards of our minds...
- we can be growing in purity.

3) We're commanded to, and God's commands give hope.

- READ I Tim. 1:5
- READ I John 3:3

- so far we're saying - this is a very serious subject, but its also a
study we can enter with a lot of hope.

- now, the word "pure" occurs just over 100 times in the Bible.
- when you take away occurrences like "pure gold" or "pure silver' (which
are interesting but not really part of what we're studying today, the
points we're going to use for our outline are the ones that are really
used in the rest of the Biblical texts.

- by far, one of the biggest emphases is:

I. God Wants You To Be Purifying Your Heart

- the word "pure" often is used in conjunction with the word "heart"
in the Scripture.

- a good example of that is Psalm 24:3-4

A. A key to fellowship with God

- READ Psalm 24:3-4

- (could also add I John 1)

- many people today are looking for fellowship with God.
- baby boomers talk about "wanting to connect with God"

- but many of those same individuals are not willing to do what
is required to have fellowship with God.

- fellowship with God requires purity...
1) purity in the sense that we've repented and rusted Christ
as Lord and Savior
2) and purity in the sense of attempting to live a more pure
life in the inner man.

- no one else knows whether your thoughts are pure or impure, but
God does, and fellowship with Him is dependant in part on our
attention to this area.

- a person who values fellowship with God is going to give this
area of life attention.

B. Can even be accomplished after one sins

- Psalm 51:10 - READ

- the wonderful thing is that even after we blow it, we can ask
for God's forgiveness, and know that that stain can be
- our mind doesn't have to get dirtier and dirtier year after year
after year.

- this is also important because it was a:
C. Central theme of Christ's message and ministry.

- Matthew 5:8 - READ

- that’s why the Pharisees hated Christ so much.
- they were exactly the opposite of what Matthew 5:8 is speaking of, and
they had little interest in giving attention to what Paul is talking
about in Philippians 4:8.

- see, whatsoever things are pure...think on these things.

- I'd like to ask you this morning, how do your thinking habits stack up
to this particular criteria?
- because I was traveling this week, I worked on Sunday school pretty
early in the week...and I found myself asking, "Steve, was that a pure
- that’s a very helpful process.
- I think many times we'll be amazed at how many thoughts don't meet
that criteria and need to be put off.

- God wants you and me to be purifying our hearts.
- we ought to be people who place a "PRIORITY ON PURITY".

- now, building on this:

II. God's Primary Purifying Agent Is His Word

A. Constant Description of God's Word

- The Scripture is pure!

- Psalm 12:6

- Psalm 19:8

- Psalm 119:140

- over and over God's Word is described as that which is pure.

- we discern what is impure by comparing it to the Scripture.
- we think thoughts that are pure by going to the Scripture.

- the commandments of the Lord are pure.

B. Beware of being drawn away from this purifying agent.

- II Cor. 11:2-3

- the argument of this passage is very important.
- Paul wants this church to be growing in purity so that they
might give the best account at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
- but his concern is that they THEIR MINDS WOULD BE DRAWN AWAY
from their simple devotion to Jesus Christ.

- How often do God's children try to handle the problems of life
through some means other than the Scripture...and as a result
their thinking is not purified...
- because they've turned from the very purifying agent that
God ordained for that work to be done.

C. This kind of thinking produces pure deeds.

- Proverbs 20:11
- Proverbs 21:8

D. This kind of thinking produces convictions

- Hab. 1:13 - Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil.

- There's been some talk recently about young people involved in
homosexuality --- and the way they are mistreated by others
around them.

- and I hope we would be quick to say that its wrong to call
people derogatory names, even if we think the way they are
living is displeasing to God.
- part of the challenge of living for Jesus Christ is loving
those the Lord has placed around us, regardless of their
- so name-calling and other forms of hatred are wrong.

- but its also wrong to give others the impression that their
behavior is acceptable, when in fact its offensive to God.
- this is God's world.
- sexuality is God's gift that is to be enjoyed within the
bonds of monogamous marriage.
- but sexual relations outside of marriage is sinful and
wicked, period.
- Hebrews 13:4 - "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and
let the marriage bed be undefiled, for fornicators and
adulterers will God judge."

- the point is -- people who are growing in purity have
convictions. And while we don't go around imposing those
convictions on people with whom we have no relationship, we're
surely going to come down on God's side of that issue whenever
its appropriate to do so.

- by the way, for those who do want to go around saying that
homosexuality is OK, and teaching children that, or trying to
impose that "RELIGION" on our community, James 3:1 is
appropriate: "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren,
knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgement."

- Habakkuk was right that God's eyes are too pure to approve
- and men and women who are growing in purity are going to be
people of conviction.

- now let's all of this one step further:

III. People Who Are Growing In Purity Work At It

- let me remind you of a couple of verses we looked at earlier:

- I Tim. 1:5
- I John 3:3

A. By putting off...


B. By putting on...


IV. Godly Spouses Don't Add to the Problem

A. By advocating impure entertainment

B. By withholding right sexual relationships

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.

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