Philippians 4:8 - Thinking Thoughts That Are True

Steve Viars February 3, 1996 Philippians 4:8

Introduction

- in our adult SS classes, we've been studying the book of Philippians
   verse by verse.
- we believe very firmly that the Bible is God's Word
   - we believe that it's inspired, it's inerrant, it's sufficient
      - in other words:
          1) it’s been breathed out by God (inspired)
          2) it’s free from error (inerrant)
          3) it’s all we need for life and godliness (sufficient)

- so in our Sunday school classes, as well as our worship services as
   other teaching opportunities...we're here to study the Scriptures.

- it's not to theorize about the opinions of men...
   - we want to learn what God's Word says...
   - and we want to think carefully about we can (and how we must) apply
      God's Word to specific areas of life.

- so because of that, we've been studying the book of Philippians verse
   by verse.

- most recently, we've been looking at Philippians 4:8, and the important
   idea of being "Good Stewards of our Minds"
     - or giving the right kind of attention to the way we think

     - Christianity is not first and foremost an issue of behavior...its
        first and foremost an issue of the heart.
     - we're to be giving attention to what we are choosing to think
        about.


INPUT - Let's begin this morning by thinking about some places in the
        Scripture where the importance of our thinking is emphasized.
        What examples come to mind?

        (look up - Isaiah 26:3, and II Cor. 10:5)


- so the point is -- we're not just giving attention to our behavior as
    believers, we're giving attention to our thinking.

- now, something we need to add to strengthen that is -- God can help us
   change the way we think.

- we're not slaves to "wrong habits of thinking."
   - in the Scriptures, God has given us the truth we need to be "growing
      stewards of our thinking."
        - to be pleasing Him more and more in this area all the time
           (just like we're to be pleasing Him in other areas of life
             more and more all the time.)

- now, for those who were here last week, we reminded ourselves of the
   key principle in the NT for change and growth, and that is -- the put
   off / put on principle.
     - we let the Scriptures help us identify what is wrong
         (with God's help we seek to put that habit off)
     - and then we also seek to replace that wrong habit with what is
        right.

- that’s what we've been doing as we've studied Phil. 4:8
- for several weeks now, we've been studying wrong kinds of
    thinking...things that need to be put off.

- one writer illustrated it this way.

    - you probably remember the great battle of Iwo Gima in WW II.

    - the guns of the naval vessels pounded that island for hours.
    - then the troops went in and fought furiously to take the beach, and
       then work their way up Mount Suribachi.

    - and when they finally fought their way to the top...with tremendous
       sacrifice and the loss of many lives...

        - the climatic moment came when those four Marines raised the
           American flag on the top of the mountain.
            (thats, of course, the event that inspired the statue that
              we've all admired, either personally or in pictures)

- but, what was the Island totally under American Control?
   - no...their were "mopping up" operations that went on for a long
      time...
        - where soldiers would have to go into caves and other hidden
           places to route out the last of the enemy.

- there are some real senses in which that event parallels what believers
   in Christ are to be doing.


- when you come to Christ, the flag of allegiance to Jesus Christ is
   raised.
     - you're forgiven of your sin and have the righteousness of Christ
         placed on your account.
     - you become a child of God, adopted into His family...and are
         sealed by the Holy Spirit until the Day of Redemption.

     - you're also freed from the power of sin and can now begin changing
        and growing and becoming more pleasing to Christ.

     - but there is a ferocious mopping up effort going on...as you scour
        your mind for habits of thinking that are sinful.

- and that’s what we've been doing for weeks -- studying different habits
   of thinking that God wants us to be putting off..
     - to be getting out of our minds.

- but it doesn't stop there:
- let me invite you to turn to Jeremiah 1:9-10.

- we could easily make this point from passages like Eph. 4:22-24, or
   Col. 3:8-14...but let's see this emphasis from the life of an OT
   prophet.

- read Jeremiah 1:9-10.
   - the point is -- in changing  (whether it be thinking or some other
       area of the Christian life)
         - putting off is only half the battle...
         - we must work hard at identifying what we need to put on in its
            place.

- and if that doesn't happen, the net effect may not just be lack of
   change (no growth/progress)
- the net effect may actually be a condition that is worse than when you
   started.

- let me just remind you of Matt. 12:43-45

   - that the passage about the evil spirit departing out of a person,
       and then coming back later, and finding that the void had been
       filled by seven evil spirits worse than himself.

- of course that’s a salvation passage, warning against the worthlessness
   of self-transformation...trying to get rid of what's bad without
   replacing it with trusting Christ and having the Holy Spirit resident
   inside...
     - but the general principle is very important...
        - in trying to change, if you don't work equally hard at "PUTTING
           ON WHAT'S RIGHT"
             - not only may you not make genuine changes...what fills up
               the void (though it may be more acceptable to the world --
               it may actually be more displeasing to God.)

- with that in mind, we're turning our attention to Phil. 4:8, and we're
   going to begin a very careful study of these positive characteristics
   that describe the right kind of thinking...the KIND OF THINKING WE
   MUST BE AGGRESSIVELY SEEKING TO PUT ON after we've put off what's
   wrong.

- READ Phil. 4:8

- we're going to spend the rest of our time on the idea:

                     Thinking Thoughts That Are True

- Let's start with:


I. What Is Truth?

    - the original word that is used in this verse literally means:

    A. Meaning

        valid, reliable, honest

        - one of the writer's we've been following, John Vandergrift in
          his book "In The Arena of the Mind" points out that there are
          actually two facets of truth that this word should cause us to
          consider:

    B. Two facets

        1) Whatever is real as opposed to whatever is fake.

        2) Whatever is true as opposed to whatever is false.

           - now there's obvious overlap there...but that’s a distinction
              that should help us as we consider this matter.

           - sometimes our thinking does not meet this first criteria in
             Phil. 4:8 because it's disconnected from reality...
                - that thought is not really an accurate representation
                  of what's happening

                - we may have convinced ourselves and we may even be in
                  the process of convincing someone else---but its not
                  thinking that is TRUE because it is disconnected from
                  reality-it is fake.

           - at other times our thinking doesn't meet the first criteria
             of Phil. 4:8 because it's just wrong.
               - That thought is false.
               - It's sinful.
                   - its just not true.

- now, again--there's a lot of overlap there -- but the main point is --
   God wants us to be consciously choosing thoughts that are true.
- a key to pleasing Him is be building habits of thinking on "WHATSOEVER
   THINGS ARE TRUE"

- let me stop there for a moment and introduce you to a fictional man
   that we're going to try to help later in the lesson.

- but the point I'm trying to make here is -- you and I are called upon
   to do this all of the time.
- and whether we've developed a disciplined habit of consciously choosing
   to think thoughts that are true is going to make a huge difference in
   the way we live.

- let's call this man "John" (my apologies to any John's here)

- let's say that John is a married man, and his wife has just confronted
    him about a matter.
      - John has a habit of being grumpy and mean and cutting in his
        communication with her and with the kids---and John's wife has
        just spoken to him about it.

      - now John is sitting in the chair in the living room...
         - he's sulking, he's angry, and he's formulating his mental
            defense.

- now, though John is undoubtedly sinning in many ways...for our purposes
   this morning, do you see how (even without having information on some
   of the specifics of what he's thinking)
     - do you see how John is in great need of what Phil. 4:8 is talking
        about?
     - John needs to be thinking on "Whatsoever things are true"
     - and if he doesn't start doing that "post-haste", he's going to
        miss the potential growth that would come from responding
        properly to his wife's words...
          - he's also going to reinforce a bad habit that will make it
             that much harder to change in the future.

- we'll leave John there for a little bit and come back to him:

- let's consider another question about our subject:


II. How Important Is Truth?

    A. Means through which we are sanctified

        John 17:17 - Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth.

        - Would you agree with this statement?  Many of us have sat in
          John's seat and responded improperly because we didn't put a
          very high premium on the truth?

        - If that’s the case - part of changing that is recognizing just
           how important truth is.
             - its important because it is the means through which we are
               sanctified.

    B. Its a primary attribute of God.

        Rom. 3:4

        I John 5:6

        - if we want to be men and women who are glorifying God, giving
          the right opinion of Him, then we must be men and women of the
          truth.
        - we must believe the truth, we must live the truth, we must
          SPEAK the truth, and we must THINK the truth.

        - we're talking about a primary attribute of God.

        - as John sits in his chair and broods, and defends...He's is
          choosing (knowingly or unknowingly) to be unlike His Lord.

    C. Goes hand in hand with goodness, righteousness, and holiness.

        Eph. 4:24, 5:9

        - words like goodness, righteousness, and holiness ought to be
           very, very precious to us.
        - if they are -- and if that’s the way we want to live----then we
           must be working on "THINKING...WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE TRUE."

        - truth goes hand in hand with these other characteristics

    D. Belongs in the armor of the Christian soldier.

        Eph. 6:14 - Stand therefore, with your loins girded about with
                    truth.

        - some of God's people are not prepared to do battle with the
           enemy because they are not people of the truth.

           - they play "fast and loose" with the truth, just like John is
              doing is his easy chair.
           - to what some might appear to be a pretty harmless event is
              about to become another example of John loosing the battle
              because he's not being a man of truth.

- and while we're on that subject, this is probably a good time to point
    out that truth is so important because:

    E. It's exactly what our enemy is not.

        - the devil is a liar - John 8:44  (READ)
           - in fact he's the father of lies.

        - he wants to corrupt your mind with lies - II Cor. 11:3

        - that method has been working well ever since the Garden of Eden
          when he looked at Eve and asked, "Has God really said...?"

- a good question for all of us to be considering would be:
   - How important is the truth to me?
   - How high of a premium have I placed on the truth?
   - How much attention do I give to whether my thinking is really true?
        (that I am consciously choosing to think on whatsoever things are
          true)

   - this is obviously a very important issue to the Lord according to
       the Scriptures---how important is it to you?

- now, before we get back to John, let's quickly answer one more question
   that should help us evaluate John more thoroughly.

III. In What Areas of Life Do We Especially need To Evaluate the
     Truthfulness of Our Thinking?

    A. What we think about ourselves

       - Rom. 12:3


    B. What we think about God

       - often times what we choose to think about the Lord in a given
          situation is simply untrue.


    C. What we think about our situation

       - often what we choose to think about a particular situation is
         just not the case....yet we roll those thoughts over and over
         and over in our minds.

- now, let's go back to John.
   - and let's take these three areas and brainstorm how John might be
       thinking things that are UNTRUE in each of these key areas.
        (also, give the put on -- how does he need to turn it around?)

     1) what he's thinking about himself?

     2) what he's thinking about the Lord?

     3) what he's thinking about the situation?


- let's conclude with this:

IV. How Do Believers Fill Their Minds With Truth?

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

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

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