Friday, September 5, 2014

FOOD FOR THOUGHT (Philippians Chapter 4)

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.”

Kent Hughes called the current state of the mind of evangelicals "the great scandal of today's church: Christians without Christian minds, Christians who do not think ‘Christianly’."  Our thought life matters.  The Proverbs speak to this: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23; Cf. Proverbs 23:7).  Charles Reade put it this way: “Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”

Right thinking leads to right living and vice versa.  Dwight Pentecost once said, “God’s standard for His children is that we should sit in judgment upon every thought that flickers through our minds. If it cannot pass the test of ringing true and being of honest worth, righteous, incorruptible, and attractive, it is to be rejected and repudiated. If you introduce one drop of contaminated water into a pitcher of cool water, the cool, refreshing, pure water will not purify that defilement, but the defilement will corrupt the pure; so these thoughts will contaminate your mind. Satan wants to turn your mind into a cesspool and have your mind occupied with that which ultimately must corrupt, defile, and spoil the whole body, distort the life, and produce sin. The battle is not first in the field of action; it is in the field of thought.”  In the battle for the mind this verse sets forth the victorious objective (Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5).

Philippians 4:8 has been called a “charter for Christian thought.”  The list of things we are to “think about” is divided into two groups with six “whatevers” and two “if anys.”  In His person and work the Lord Jesus preeminently fulfills each of the virtues listed.  These contemplative-worthy virtues to think about are not only true of Him, but of the Spirit (Cf. Romans 8:5), the Word (Cf. Colossians 3:16), heaven (Cf. Colossians 3:2), and other things that bear Christ-like virtue by way of His influence (i.e. His church; His people). 

“Whatever is true.”  Something is true when it conforms to reality.  Jesus is “true.”  In this post-modern world many deny the existence of any absolute truth, but Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6; Cf. Ephesians 4:21).  His Word is truth (Cf. John 17:17).  “Whatever is honorable.”  The term refers to that which is worthy of respect.  No one is more honorable or worthy of respect than the person of Jesus Christ.  He is so both in His person (who He is) and His works.  “Whatever is just.”  The term refers to that which conforms to God’s standards.  Jesus is the “Righteous One” (Acts 22:14).  His ways are “just and true” (Revelation 15:3).  “Whatever is pure.”  The term refers to that which is morally pure and undefiled.  Jesus knew no sin (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21) and committed no sin (Cf. 1 Peter 2:22).  He was offered to God as a “lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19).  All moral purity is sourced in Him (Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 John 3:3).  “Whatever is lovely.”  The term refers to that which is admirable or agreeable to behold or consider.  Jesus is preeminently so.  John the Apostle wrote of Him, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  We should think often of Him—one day He will be “marveled at among all who have believed” (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:10).  “Whatever is commendable.”  The term refers to that which is well spoken of.  Not all speak well of Jesus now, but God has “bestowed on Him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9) and the day is coming when every tongue will confess Him to be Lord (Cf. Philippians 2:11).  “If there is any excellence.”  The word excellence refers to that which is virtuous as demonstrated in life.  The Apostle Peter used the term in reference to Christ, speaking of His “glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:4).  All such excellence is sourced in Him.  “If there is anything worthy of praise.”  The phrase speaks of that which is worthy of commending.  Christ is altogether worthy of praise.  One day the raptured church will gather round His throne and declare with a “loud voice,” “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12). 

J. Vernon McGee once said, "We need a sanctuary.  We need something to think upon that will clean up our minds.  Here are some questions to think about: How much time do you spend with the Word of God?  How much time do you spend contemplating Christ?”  As the song “Think About His Love” puts it, we should “Think about His love.  Think about His goodness.  Think about His grace that's brought us trough.”  In Him we have good and healthy food for thought.

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