Philippians 4:9 - Think Right, Then Do Right

Dr. Steve Viars April 20, 1996 Philippians 4:8

NAS Phi 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of
good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of
praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

In this last clause we have the main verb of the verse, the verb which
governs all of the terms we have studied.

This last clause reads "Let your mind dwell on these things."

  I.  We Are Commanded to Think Biblically.

      A.  The nature of the command

          1.  Meaning of the word

              "Let your mind dwell on" is one word in Greek:

              It is translated in various ways:

              (Have several individuals look these up.)

              a.  To take into account - John 11:50

                  NAS Joh 11:50 nor do you take into account that it is
                  expedient for you that one man should die for the
                  people, and that the whole nation should not perish."

              b.  To suppose - Rom. 2:3

                  NAS Rom 2:3 And do you suppose this, O man, when you
                  pass judgment upon those who practice such things and
                  do the same yourself, that you will escape the
                  judgment of God?

              c.  To maintain - Rom. 3:28

                  NAS Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified
                  by faith apart from works of the Law.
              d.  To reckon - Rom. 4:4-6, 24

                  NAS Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not
                  reckoned as a favor, but as what is due.  5 But to
                  the one who does not work, but believes in Him who
                  justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as
                  righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the
                  blessing upon the man to whom God reckons
                  righteousness apart from works:

                  NAS Rom 4:24 but for our sake also, to whom it will
                  be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised
                  Jesus our Lord from the dead,

              e.  To consider - Rom. 6:11; 8:18

                  NAS Rom 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead
                  to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

                  NAS Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of
                  this present time are not worthy to be compared with
                  the glory that is to be revealed to us.

              f.  To regard - Rom. 9:8

                  NAS Rom 9:8 That is, it is not the children of the
                  flesh who are children of God, but the children of
                  the promise are regarded as descendants.

              g.  To think - Rom. 14:14

                  NAS Rom 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord
                  Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him
                  who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is

              h.  To count - 2 Cor. 5:19

                  NAS 2Co 5:19 namely, that God was in Christ
                  reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their
                  trespasses against them, and He has committed to us
                  the word of reconciliation.

          2.  Form of the word

              a.  Present tense

                  - We are to be constantly taking into account,
                    supposing, reckoning, maintaining, considering,
                    etc.  the eight areas of biblical thinking listed
                    in Phil. 4:8.  WE ARE TO BE THINKING ON THESE
                    THINGS ALL OF THE TIME.

                      - Are you growing in that?
                      - Need to ask, "In what areas of my life do I
                        need to?"

              b.  Imperative

                  - It is a COMMAND in the original language.

                      - Which means when you or I fail to think, dwell
                        on, and regard these things we are doing what?


                      - It's just as wrong to disobey the Ten
                        Commandments and the Great Commission as it is
                        to not think on these things.

      B.  The content of the command

          Let's review these criteria of biblical thinking ONE LAST
          TIME in light of the command we've just looked at, the
          command that applies to each one of them.

          1.  True

              a.  whatever is real as opposed to what is fake

              b.  whatever is true as opposed to what is false

              - Are you regularly, continuously thinking true thoughts?

          2.  Honorable

              - Thoughts that are serious and dignified -- as opposed
                to whatever is frivolous

              - Are you seriously-minded in the areas you should be? at
                the appropriate times?

                  - Some things just aren't funny.

          3.  Just

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

          4.  Pure

              - As opposed to stained, dirty, immoral, or set apart to
                ungodliness instead of set apart to God

              - Is your thought life pure?  Have you been violating the
                command of our God in Phil. 4:8 by allowing impure
                things to come into your "eye gate"?

          5.  Lovely

              - planning or concentration which will bring about a
                loving act

              - Is it your practice to plan to do loving things for
                your spouse? children?

          6.  Good repute (admirable)

              - thinking that searches for the good rather than the bad
                in another

              - Do you regularly look for good in your wife?  your
                husband?  your children?

                  - Do others only hear from you when they've done
                    something wrong?

          7.  Virtuous (excellent)

              - avoiding thinking that is undisciplined, questionable,
                or mediocre

          8.  Praiseworthy

              - A very strong word meaning to "praise upon" our God.

              - Praiseworthy thinking is centered on the attributes and
                actions of God

              - Do you continuously think about Who God is and what
                He's done for YOU?

          When it comes to obeying the commands of Phil. 4:8, I think
          most of us will be doing some regular repenting (or should
          be).  We need to be growing in biblical thinking, but no one
          hits home runs.

This is a minor milestone in our Philippians series.  We're finished
with Phil. 4:8!  And we're moving on to Phil. 4:9.

READ Phil. 4:9

NAS Phi 4:9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen
in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

We see from this verse that...

II.  We Are Commanded to Act Biblically.

      Right thinking always precedes right actions and this is exactly
      how Phil. 4:8 and 9 present it.
      All of the right thinking in v. 8 is the logical prerequisite for
      the right acting of v. 9.

      cf. Joh 13:17 "If you know these things, you are blessed if you
          do them."

          INPUT:  In what order are the three elements in this verse?

          1.  Thinking (know)

          2.  Acting (do)

          3.  Feeling (blessed)

          - Right thinking precedes right actions which precede right
            feelings (normally -- sometimes you don't feel right even

      Not only is there the thinking-then-acting order here, but there

      The New American Standard (NAS) brings this out with the
      translation "practice."

      There are some things that Paul is wanting, or better, commanding
      (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) the Philippian
      believers to PRACTICE.

      Not only are we commanded to be regularly thinking biblical
      thoughts, but we are to be regularly doing certain things.

      What things?

      A.  Follow the teaching you've been given.

          "The things you have learned and received"... in me, practice
          these things"

          These two words go together and work as synonyms.

          Paul is saying in effect "You've learned many things from me
          both in person and by letter.  Put them into practice!

          INPUT:  What are some things that Paul has taught them in
                  this letter that they need to follow?

                  - be unified (cf. 1:27 "striving together...")

          INPUT:  What are some things that we are regularly taught
                  around here that we need to follow?

      B.  Follow the good examples you've been given.

          "and heard and seen in me, practice these things"
          1.  Paul

              Paul was not bragging by saying this.  (He couldn't be,
              for what he wrote was inspired by the Holy Spirit and
              Paul was writing by His moving (2 Pet. 1:21) and with
              apostolic authority.

              INPUT:  Can you think of any similar statements we read
                      from Paul in the New Testament?

              NAS 1Co 4:16 I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.

              NAS 1Co 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of

              NAS Eph 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved

              NAS 1Th 1:6 You also became imitators of us and of the
                  Lord, having received the word in much tribulation
                  with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

              NAS 1Th 2:14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the
                  churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea,
                  for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands
                  of your own countrymen, even as they did from the

              - And one from the writer of Hebrews (not Paul):

              NAS Heb 6:12 that you may not be sluggish, but imitators
              of those who through faith and patience inherit the

              INPUT:  What in the life of Paul would you and I do well
                      to follow and imitate?

                      - He praised God in trials.

                      - He served during trials (Philippians is a
                        prison epistle, a letter written while Paul was
                        in prison.

                      - He told others about the saving gospel of Jesus
                        Christ wherever he went and was not ashamed
                        (cf. Rom. 1:16).

                      - He loved people enough to correct them by
                        confronting them (cf. Acts 20:31).

              We need to draw a significant point from 1 Cor. 11:1 and
              Eph. 5:1 above:  Paul himself was a follower of ...

          2.  Christ

              - This is our ultimate goal in life.

              (if time)  Turn to Rom. 8:28-29

              "And we know that God causes all things to work together
              for good to those who love God, to those who are called
              according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, he also
              predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,
              that He might be the first-born among many brethren."

              (OPTIONAL, IF TIME)

              INPUT: Let's name just a few of the ways we need to
                     follow Christ's example?

          3.  Other godly examples

              Praise the Lord for godly examples He provides for us.

              I'm thankful for the godly example we have had 20 plus
              years in P. Goode and 8 plus years in P. Viars.

              Now they'd be the first ones to tell you (and you've
              heard them) that we're all just growing and that no one's

                  However, I can honestly say that in most ways I want
                  to emulate men like them.

                  To God be the glory -- He's done the work in them,
                  but they've been faithful.

                  INPUT:  Growing up or at some time in the past, who
                          did the Lord place before you as a godly
                          example that really helped you "have
                          something to shoot for" in your Christian

              We need to ask this question, too:  Are you the kind of
              example you should be for the Lord?

              If everyone in Faith Baptist Church were like you...

                  How biblical would our thinking be?

                  What would our marriages be like?

                  How evangelistic would we be?

                  What would our child-raising be like?

                  How committed would our church be?

                  What would our giving be like?

                  WHAT KIND OF EXAMPLE ARE YOU?

      Maybe you could say something like, "Well, there certainly would
      be some weaknesses, but in some and possibly many of those areas
      I think I've been a good example."

      If so, praise the Lord.  If not, may you be willing to consider
      your ways and take the necessary steps of growth.

III.  We Will Be Blessed with the Result of Thinking and Acting
      Biblically:  Peace.

      "the God of peace shall be with you."

      This passage began with a discussion of peace, too.

      cf. Phil. 4:6-7

          "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
          supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made
          known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all
          comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in
          Christ Jesus."

      By a combination of right praying, right thinking, and right
      acting peace begins to come.  It is a gift from God Who is the
      God of peace (the God who gives peace).

      Jay Adams in his commentary on Philippians says this:

          "Don't expect peace to arrive after the first attempt.  When
          your lifestyle has begun to change with practice, then you
          can expect to find peace.  And this peace comes not
          automatically, but from God, Who is its Source.  So it does
          not depend on circumstances, etc., but on the proper
          relationship of the (person) with God."

May God help us and may we be committed to be growing in right praying
right thinking, and right acting.

As we grow in these things, we can have true and lasting peace that
comes from our Heavenly Father.

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