Inside: The sin in our lives begins in our thoughts—or as the bible calls it, “the heart” (Mark 7:20-23). We don’t sin without it first starting in our minds. We’re walking through Philippians 4:8 together to see how to replace sinful, wrong thinking by instead thinking thoughts that are God-honoring.
Spiritual stability is a result of how a person thinks. The Bible leaves no doubt that people’s lives are the product of their thoughts.~ John MacArthur
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in your mind with only correct thoughts? No more envious, angry, or bitter thoughts. Could you imagine all the time and energy we would save from our wasted thinking?Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in your mind with only correct thoughts? No more envious, angry, or bitter thoughts. Could you imagine all the time and energy we would save from our wasted thinking?
Listen to Podcast Episode 124 Below (11 minutes) or read the post (6 minutes):
What we meditate on matters. Too often, my thoughts control me instead of me controlling my thoughts. I tend to be an overthinker. When someone has wronged me, I’ll mull it over and over again in my mind. I may even find myself arguing with the other person in my mind. Or you might find me asking the “what if” questions, which only destroy my peace and leave me unsettled in my thoughts.
Instead of being controlled by my thoughts, I would like to have control over them. At times, I can find myself too busy to be thinking God’s thoughts. But to hide His Word in my heart so I might not sin against Him means that I need to be reading God’s Word and dwelling on it throughout my day. That’s because what we don’t know can’t influence our thinking. We need to know what God’s Word says to be able to take every thought captive.
God’s Word tells us that we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Having the mind of Christ is a guide to all we do, and it needs to impact our thinking. It doesn’t mean our thinking will be exactly like God’s, but it does mean we can think and act more and more like Christ as our minds are renewed (Romans 12:2).
The apostle Paul tells us how to replace sinful, wrong thinking by instead thinking thoughts that are God-honoring in Philippians 4:8.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Prior to this verse in Philippians 4, the apostle has been going over with the Philippian’s things he desires them to do. Paul has addressed unity in the church (Phil 4:2-3), a joyful spirit (Phil 4:4), humility (Phil 4:5), anxiety and thankfulness (Phil 4:6), and peace (Phil 4:7). The last issue the apostle addresses here in verse 8 is our thought life.
As God’s peace guards our hearts and minds we will find ourselves thinking on the Lord’s promises and His provision for us. It is going to change our thought life to no longer dwell on fleshly thoughts but on ones that are spiritual and Christ-focused. We have been given whole new minds. What we choose to think on matters.
God’s Word doesn’t leave us wondering how to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5); we have a detailed list of what we are to think about as Christians laid out for us in Philippians 4:8. Scripture is our source for knowing what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Let’s walk through Paul’s list of what sort of thoughts we should be filling our minds.
6 Things to Dwell On:
“Whatever is True.”
If it’s not true, it’s false. We need to fix our minds on what is true. Jesus is the embodiment of truth, and His gospel is truth. We need to ask the Lord to permeate our minds with the truth of His Word and help us avoid falsehood. As believers, we are to seek what is true in all areas of our lives.
“Whenever we believe a lie, Satan takes over.”-Warren Wiersbe
“Whatever is Honorable.”
The term for “honorable” means “noble” or “dignified.” We are to set our thoughts on things that are above, not on things of this earth (Colossians 3:3-4). It doesn’t mean we don’t recognize wrong things are going on in the world around us, but these thoughts are not meant to permeate our minds. To think noble or reverent thoughts means we live with eternity in view.
“Whatever is Just.”
“Just” or “right” means it conforms to God’s law. To conform our thinking to what is just, we need to keep our minds in line with the truth of God’s Word. Having the right thinking will lead us to the right actions.
“Whatever is Pure”
When we think of pure, our minds tend to go towards sexual purity, but this extends beyond just sexual purity to all moral purity in our thoughts, words, and actions. God chose us in Him to be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4) and our entire lives should be a striving to stay pure and undefiled in all areas of our lives.
“Whatever is Lovely”
“Lovely” translates here as conduct that is amiable, gracious, or pleasing. Our minds are to dwell on things that are lovely or pleasing to God. When our thoughts are focused on what is lovely, our actions towards others will be kind and gracious.
“Whatever is Commendable”
“Commendable” means thinking thoughts that are of an excellent report; we should be dwelling and thinking about morally respectable things. Are we thinking the best of others, or do we dwell on their failures?
Our minds are a gift from the Lord to be protected. In Christ, we are now able to choose thoughts that please the Lord and honor Him.
Addressing Our Hearts:
Paul ends Philippians 4:8 with, “if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” because we need this reminder to protect our thinking continually. We need to be proactive in the thoughts that enter our minds. Our minds are renewed thought by thought. This isn’t a quick overnight fix. We need to continually do battle with thinking God’s thoughts over worldly, sinful thoughts.We need to be proactive in the thoughts that enter our minds. Our minds are renewed thought by thought.
The sin in our lives begins in our thoughts—or as the bible calls it, “the heart” (Mark 7:20-23). We don’t sin without it first starting in our minds. No one murders without harboring angry thoughts towards another person; no one commits adultery without first having lustful thoughts.
We tend to get lazy in our thinking and forget that what we meditate and think on matters. We must do battle with our thought life or our growth in our walk with the Lord will be stunted.When we see Jesus as the perfect picture of all that is true and lovely and pure, we will find our thought life is filtered through the lens of the gospel.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
To have the mind of Christ, we must first be in Christ. True conversion is necessary to right Christian living. When we see Jesus as the perfect picture of all that is true and lovely and pure, we will find our thought life is filtered through the lens of the gospel. As we meditate on what is true and lovely and honorable in the gospel, and as we practice these things as Paul said, the peace of God will be with us (Phil 4:9).
May the mind of Christ my SaviorKate B. Wilkinson, 1925
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and pow’r controlling,
All I do and say.