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The Power of Christ-Controlled Thinking [1] {Philippians 4:8]

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The Power of Christ-Controlled Thinking [Part 1] {Philippians 4:8}

Stand for the reading of the word of God [Philippians 4:8]
We’ve been studying Philippians 4:6-8 for the last several weeks now. So far we’ve seen in this series the principles of power or essential quality of power. Which are the power of a worry-free mind, the power of prayer, and the power of a thankful heart.
We’ve seen that we can have a worry-free mind by trusting God instead of trembling, forgiving others instead of fuming, and releasing worry instead of retaining. We’ve learned that prayer provides power for difficult days, prayer provides peace in troubled times, and prayer provides protection from attacks of the enemy. And, thankfulness increases faith, thankfulness improves health, and thankfulness instills a desire to be like Jesus.
The next three weeks we’re going to focus on verse 8 and see the purposes of power. i.e. we’ve seen the what we want to obtain in verses 6-7, now we’re going to see the how…how do I obtain a worry-free mind, powerful prayer, and a thankful heart…verse 8 tells us how. This is the major point Paul is getting at for us. You want to know how to live worry-free??? you want to know how to have powerful prayer??? you want to know how to have a thankful heart??? Then you need Christ-controlled thinking!
MI: in order to experience peace, joy, humility, faith, and gratitude you must focus on godly virtues.
The call is for right thinking! Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” All of these things, peace, joy, humility, faith, gratitude, a worry-free mind comes by right thinking or Christ controlled thinking. This is not a new concept, Paul tell us in Romans 12:1 to present your bodies as living sacrifices to God which is your reasonable act of worship, then in Romans 12:2, “do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” {point to head}
If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation [2 Cor. 5:17] that is even a new mind, you’re not given a new brain but a new mind. Colossians 3:1-2, “If you were then raised with Christ…set your mind of things above.” Philippians 2:5-8 “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who humbled himself to the point of death, even death on the cross.” I could go on but you get the point, the bible calls us over and over to right thinking…to godly thinking…to Christ-controlled thinking.
Modern psychology tells us in order to get better or improve on yourself you need to dive into your past failures, hurts, regrets, etc., etc. and bring them all to the surface and deal with them all. Modern psychology tells us to not take out the trash but to bring in back in house and go through it in order to properly take out the trash??? That’s just my interpretation of it…it might stink a bit??? Bad joke.
But seriously, this is the modern approach to mental health care in psychology, dig around in the trash and it has spilled over into Christianity today as well. However, in light of Philippians 4 verse 8 it seems to be utterly ridiculous! Paul clearly tells us don’t focus on the trash but focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report. The focus of a Christians mind should be on godly virtues.
Now obviously, God does bring things up to us, sins of the past, failures, etc. but for our good, not to shame us but to shape us! Shape us into the image of Christ. If there is something in your past, a failure, a sin, a whatever, and you’ve gone to the Lord and truly asked for forgiveness…you are forgiven. You don’t need to bring it up any more. If that same sin, that you’ve confessed and asked for forgiveness keeps coming back to mind, know that’s not God bringing it to mind, it’s Satan trying to shame you. If it comes back again, you tell Satan, “I’ve asked for forgiveness, I’ve given to God, and He’s faithful and promises to forgive.”
We are products of our own thinking. What’s concerning about this today is we seem to live in a culture that is more concerned about feelings and success than about thinking. i.e. the questions that are asked now are not, “is it true?” or “is it right?” but “how will it make me feel” and “will it bring me success?” This is even true in theology today, often the issue isn’t is it right and true, but rather will it divide or offend?
We need to be more like the Berean Christians of Acts 17, who were, “fair-minded or noble, because they searched the scripture daily to see if it was true.” They didn’t worry about how it would make them feel, or if it would offend someone, they were concerned with the truth. We live in a day with a lot of information, but not necessarily a lot of thinking. Just look at the internet and how people respond to articles on there, that may not have a hint of truth in them, but people will assume them valid without even thinking about it seriously. Friends that’s a dangerous place to be when we are not thinking!
Bill Hull, wrote in his book, “Right Thinking.” “what scares me is the anti-intellectual, anti-critical thinking philosophy that has spilled over into the church. This philosophy tends to romanticize the faith, making the local church into an experience center. Their concept of church is that they are spiritual consumers and that the church’s job is to meet their felt needs.” That’s spot on.
What’s happening in the church today, is many are not going to church to think and reason about truth, not like the Bereans to search the scripture to see truth, but many are going there to get there weekly spiritual fix, so they can feel that God is with them. Give me some experience so I can go about my week with this euphoric feeling. Christians can easily become victims of our feelings, but that’s a dangerous place to be, but must be more concerned about right thinking!
John Stott wrote, in his book “Your Mind Matters.” “Indeed, sin has more dangerous effects on our faculty of feeling than our faculty of thinking because our opinions are more easily checked and regulated by revealed truth than are experiences.” That’s a great saying. Our emotions or feelings are misleading because they are not concerned about what is true.
Now back to our text in Philippians, Paul gives us a list of godly virtues that should consume our thinking, we’ll focus on the first three today, truth, honesty, and what is just and the benefit of embracing them.

Embracing truth keeps us on target

Whatever things are true.” [Greek alethes] true things are those that match what God has revealed as true in contrast to the false. This includes true concepts and true deeds. Example, anxiety comes when false ideas and unreal circumstances occupy the mind instead of truth. Ultimately, thinking on the truth is thinking on Jesus who is the truth, this brings peace of mind not an anxious mind. [John 14:6].
Life presents us with choices of truth and falsehood each day. You want to know truth…go to the Word of God. John 17:17, “thy word is truth”. The truth is in Christ and Christ sets you free. Truth is rooted in scripture! Focusing our mind on the truth of God’s word and responding to the truth therein keeps us truthful. Psalm 119:9-11 “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.... Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”
Embracing truth calls for rejecting error. Paul called for the church in Galatia to reject the error of the false teachers who were teaching that simply faith in Jesus for salvation was not enough, which was the main point of Galatians, but that they needed to observe Jewish law and circumcision as well. Paul wrote Galatians to defend the gospel truth that salvation comes by grace alone [sola gratia], through faith alone [sola fide], in Christ alone [solus christus], according to scripture alone [sola scriputra], for the glory of God alone [soli deo gloria]. [5 solas of the reformation].
The last days, according the scripture, 2 Tim. 3:1-7 will be characterized by a departure from the truth of scripture. “they will no longer listen to sound doctrine, but want their ears tickled.” a feel good approach not a sound thinking approach…sounds like the times we are living in. That should make you think itself.
Focusing on Jesus and His word keeps us on target because Jesus is the truth we embrace and we can come to know Him through His word. Hebrews 12:2, “look unto [keep your eyes fixed on] Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

Embracing honesty keeps us on track

whatever things are honest [noble]” [Greek semnos] means respectable or honorable, lofty, or majestic, things that lift our minds above the dirt of this world. Here is thinking on it’s highest level. Our thinking is to be on noble things.
The word noble really comes from a term meaning to worship. Whatever is worthy of awe, whatever is held in high regard, whatever is greatly respected, and worthy of adoration, that’s what you need to think on. This kind of thinking is opposite of the hypocritical thinking of the Pharisees which was filled with pride, it’s opposite the doubtful thinking of the Sadducees. Our thinking should be on exalting and ascertaining the truth of scripture.
This is one of the things that makes Christianity so different from all other world religions. Christianity exalts the office of teaching and doctrine, while all other world religions minimize doctrine and over emphasize the performance of a ritual. Christianity is not a ritual, it’s not an experience, it’s a revelation of truth! When a church quits thinking and revealing truth and seeks an experience it’s following the world’s model of religion and not the bibles model.
Christianity has always been about right thinking which in turn affects your living and your experiences. When we are more concerned about experience than we are about what is true we are being lead by feeling and not by Christ-controlled thinking. Now, we must note It’s impossible to have right thinking apart from Christ. The bible says before you were saved your mind was depraved [Rom. 1:28], you were blind to the truth [2 Cor. 4:4], your mind was ignorant [Eph. 4:18], and foolish [1 Cor. 2:14].
But what the Holy Spirit does in new birth is clears away the mists from the blind eyes and enables that person to see clearly the evidence and truth of the gospel. It is the work of God that opens our blind eyes, softens our depraved hearts, and changes our ignorant and foolish ways. We can’t change our minds to focus on the things of God in our own power, because before the Holy Spirit changed us, we didn’t even know we were blind, ignorant, and depraved to the ways of God.
Have you ever talked with an unbeliever and had the thought I don’t understand how you can’t see the truth of the gospel…it’s because they can’t apart from the Holy Spirit opening their minds and softening their hearts to it. Keep that in mind the next time you get upset by your unbelieving friend. And pray the Holy Spirit opens their minds and softens their heart to Christ.

Embracing the just one keeps us in touch

Whatever things are just.” [Greek dikaios] suggests that which is righteous, upright, especially what is right in dealing with others. Whatever is in perfect harmony with the divine unchanging standard of holy God revealed in scripture. Thinking just thoughts or right thoughts steers us away from quarrels and dissensions because we think of the needs of the other party and not ourselves first. A quarrelsome person is not thinking on the right things…they are focused on themselves and not on the things of God.
God’s will for His people is to be just. [Deut. 16:19-20] 19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
God’s people are to be just or right in their thinking, actions, and behavior toward others. As God was taking Israel into the promised land he was reminding them not to behave as the other nations did, perverting justice, showing favoritism, twisting truth, but they were to be right, honesty, and noble in all they did.
Here of late, one of many things I have noticed Christians taking part in that is absolutely useless and mind-draining is conspiracy theories. Conspiracies, scandals, defamation, disgraceful actions are all over news outlets of all sorts…these things grab peoples attention because the natural man loves this type of thing. But as believers these things are a waste of time and energy to focus our attention on. You may not agree with me, and that’s fine, I won’t argue with you about it, because that’s a waste of time, energy, and mind space in my opinion.
As believers our focus should be on what? godly virtues, not worldly venues! scandals, conspiracies, and the like are worldly venues not godly virtues. Notice what is not listed in Paul’s list…it doesn’t say whatever is scandalous, disgraceful, or detestable think on these…no whatever is true, honesty, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, praiseworthy…these things think on. Our minds should be focused on the Just One…Jesus Christ.
Notice how all these things describe the Just One Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life no one comes to the Father but by Jesus.
Jesus is the honesty, right, noble one. Jesus was despised by the religious leaders of his day because he was right, honest, and noble, unlike those religious leaders who were corupt. Spurgeon said, “He who hates truth soon hates its advocate.”
Jesus is the just one, Christ sacrificial death upon the cross was acceptable to God because Jesus is Just and Right. 1 Peter 3:18 says, Jesus died, the just for the unjust.” Christ in our place is the just for the unjust…that’s beautiful music to my ears.
Jesus is the pure one. All of Jesus’ ways are pure and clean. You and I are not clean but tainted by sins stain, but even though our sin makes us impure through Christ we can be as white as snow, the righteousness of God in Christ.
Jesus is the lovely one, Jesus is lovely or loveable because, not that we love Him but that He loved us first and gave Himself for us on the cross.
Jesus is of good report. Even in His unjust trial, Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him.” which was 100% true, there was no fault in Him, our sinless savior.
Jesus is the only one praiseworthy. Jesus is worthy of our praise. Many things battle for our minds, for our praise, for our adoration…but Jesus is the only one truly worthy of our praise.
What has controlled your mind lately? Where have you focused your thoughts? Odds are your actions dictate where your mind is, if you’re focusing on godly virtues it’s going to show out in your life, if you’re focusing on worldly things…it’s going to show in your life. Remember earlier I quoted Proverbs 23:7, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Friends where your mind is is where you are.
Ask yourself this question seriously…where has my mind been focused? On my feelings, on my success, or on what is right and true? The truth of the matter is, you’ll never have a worry-free mind, a powerful prayer life, or a thankful heart without Christ-controlled thinking! Christ-controlled thinking adds true power to one’s life.
My prayer is that our prayer would be the same prayer David prayed in...
Psalm 19:14, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer
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