“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
In our introduction to this short series on Philippians 4:8 we said that “think on these things” used here is one of the deepest phrases in Scriptures and that only superficial or cursory viewers of this text may be prone to interpret it only as giving “thought to these things” that is, as if it concerns the level of thought only. And we said that though the springboard from where that phrase reaches us, and so necessarily inclusive of that (that is, thought), Paul by the Spirit nevertheless actually came from a depth deeper than that and is concerned with a much wider range. Paul by the Spirit, we also said, is actually saying: “think on these things, give serious thought to them and nothing contrary should get your attention; then may these things be the bases of what you hear, what you say (and may they be actually what you allow yourself to hear and say); and then may they be the bases of your behavior, actions, works or services (and may they be actually what informs your behavior and how you behave, what inform your actions and how you act, what inform your works and services or their essence and final outcome or result)”.
In this episode we would consider the realm of thought or the level of the mind, being the springboard from which the text reaches us, and thereafter shall take on other realms or levels of Christian living that the text also applies itself to. Our minds are supposed to dwell only on: “True things—all that is in harmony with eternal truth in creation and revelation; Honest things—all that is grave, decent, honorable, and Christian; Just things—all that is in harmony with justice and righteousness; Pure things—all that is chaste and holy for body and soul; Lovely things—all that is pleasing and tends to bless others; and Things of good report—all that is in harmony with the best public good, virtuous and praiseworthy” to represent Finis Jennings Dake again on this.
The 8-Way Test and our Thoughts
How quick a way to know the thought of the Spirit through our spirit or the thought of Satan through our flesh if Philippians 4:8 we always apply: Is this thought true, is it honest, is it just, pure, lovely, of good report or is it virtuous and praise-worthy! If my mind should suddenly burst open and the thought I am presently entertaining should be known to all human will it know it as true; judge it as honest; reckon it as just, justified or see justice in it; conclude it as pure; consider it lovely, receive it as good report, even something virtuous and praise worthy? Would the person I am thinking it about know it as true; judge it as honest; reckon it as just, justified or see justice in it; conclude it as pure; consider it lovely, receive it as good report, even something virtuous and praise worthy? Would my spirit, if unclouded by the flesh, see it as above? Would the spirits of the saints gone before me and the living righteous see it as the above, if God let them into seeing into my mind? And lastly: Does Divinity, the triune God, see it as true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy?
Simply put: Does this thought agree with God’s mind for me as revealed in Scriptures? Is this the thought of the Spirit or of the flesh; and because the flesh may oftentimes not reach us as flesh but rather would want to subtly justify certain things it is selling to our minds whilst making us think it is the Spirit reaching us through our spirits (being one danger of wrong emotions), the above probing may be necessary to understand when the flesh or the Spirit is speaking to the mind. This is a necessary probing into our thoughts that our minds must be subjected to: And all the many thoughts we entertain will simply vanish into the thin air to the eternal shame of Satan and eternal joy of our God and all holy saints gone before us who today are among the cloud of spectators or witnesses of this our heavenly race. Though these holy spectators may not see our minds but through how we employ our sense organs or mind gates (which feeds the mind) and through the things we would eventually say and do as the mind processes or after it has finished processing what our sense organs channels to it, the mind is not after all altogether unknown. This is how too Satan and his demon hosts get ‘peeps’ into our minds or get idea of what is in our minds; else, ordinarily, they do not know our minds.
But as Satan tries to reach our minds through our sense organs or mind gates which he bombards with sundry evils, he suggests to our mind to process them and by the time we are finished with that we act now or after accordingly or as he intends. To guide against his entering into our minds at will is to guide against what reaches our vision (eyes) and our hearing (ear). Like the mind we must watch over our mind gates, which our sense organs are: And while we shall take on this mind gates next, for now we should lay it to heart that it is a spiritual law to reap what is sown, so that what we see or hear matter so much since what goes in is seed that may germinate now or hereafter.
Things true, things honest, things just, things pure, things lovely, things of good report; things virtuous and things worthy of praise: Let’s think on these things. Let them be our meditations! Let our minds and tongue cast down those imaginations and high things exalting themselves against God bring into captivity to the obedience of Christ all things contrary.
Resist Fleshly Thoughts before They Form Fortresses
Have you just seen something or heard something! And the devil begins to sell the thought of the flesh in your mind, which always are not true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; virtuous and praiseworthy; always be at alert to know, for we are always supposed to watch over the mind and control it or bring it to think the thoughts of the Spirit or God’s Word which reaches us through our spirits. As that ugly pix, licentious attire, vain talk and gossip pass through the eye or ear organ of our flesh to our minds, heartily quote that Scripture (Philippians 4: 8) or any part thereof. Or even say “that’s not true, or honest, or of good report (for instance), and therefore I cannot think on it; so then I ‘cast you, imagination and high thing, that exalts yourself against the knowledge of God down and I bring you thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ’” (see 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5).
Almost always that will be the end of that thought or picture the devil is trying to sell to your mind. Sometimes, however, he may want to try again to know how serious you really are. Give it to him again same way or rephrased or any other way the Lord would allow you to combat him with Scriptures: And by this you will be resisting the devil and he sure will flee!
Do not entertain fleshly thoughts or thoughts contrary to God’s will. This is the lifestyle of those wanting to go to heaven. They do not allow the thought of the flesh to encumber their minds. They use the Word of God (a key weapon of our warfare) in combating the thoughts of the flesh, and use same to feed their minds with the thoughts of the Spirit which are eternally true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; virtuous and praiseworthy. No wonder we are told in John 5: 39 to search the Scriptures for in it we think we have eternal life: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
True, you cannot stop the devil to propose fleshly thoughts to you. But you can minimize his affronts when you guide your mind gates. And whenever he comes never allow him to expound or expand those fleshly thoughts in you! Once they come as suggestions or once he first drop the first thought in your mind you must quickly resist him before he forms a fortress. They are imaginations and high things exalting themselves against the knowledge of our God; and so we must cast them down; we must bring them to captivity to the obedience of Christ! It must be our lifestyle to protect our minds from Satan’s onslaughts. Our minds are Satan’s first point of call; that’s where he targets almost all his devices and tools at, for winning there is winning the whole man. He fights the mind, he wants to occupy and control the mind, and by it have the man, including believers. The battle of the mind, this is the greatest battle of all. And if we win here, we win all! Win here, you win at all levels of Christianity. We dare not fail here (see the series on the Mind, Meditation and God’s Word for more details on this). Let the thoughts of the Spirit, rather than the thoughts of the flesh, be entertained by us.
Let’s then be alert to what we think. It is a conscious exercise. Our will must be made to be subject to the will of Christ revealed in Scripture to help subject our minds to our spirits and our spirits to the Spirit of God. We cannot allow our minds to be free places for Satan to dump his thoughts to engage us. So important we should reiterate it: Ask is this the thought of the Spirit through my spirit given my mind in my soul to engage in, or the thought of Satan, through my flesh (thought of the flesh) given to my mind in my soul to engage in? You sure will get an answer if asked heartily. And what a fast way you will resist Satan and cast down his imaginations and bring them to the obedience of Christ.
“Gird Up the Loins of Your Mind”!
In 1 Peter 1:13-21 we read of one of the strongest call to holiness and steadfastness in Scripture: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
It must not surprise us that this “Wherefore” that leads to all of that great revelation and eternal blessedness awaiting all saints in that Scripture started with “gird up the loins of your mind”. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” or “prepare your mind for action” as the margin puts it. The mind! That is where everything starts. We must prepare it for action, because that is the first target of Satan. That is where the Christian battle is fought; won or lost (again, you may see our series on the Mind, God’s Word and Meditation).
After the admonition to gird up the loins of our minds or to prepare our minds for action comes the admonition to “be sober” which means to be serious and thoughtful, not to be intoxicated or influenced (as with drugs or alcohol); that is, impliedly, not to be intoxicated or influenced by the world (the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, pride of life, love of money etc). The first underlining thing about sobriety is thoughtfulness along the thoughts of God and against the thoughts of the world and flesh. So, again, sobriety is primarily about the mind. The second underlining thing about sobriety is abstinence; abstinence from the world with all its lusts and what have you, this being the natural result of the first underlining thing. Romans 12 verse 2 is a good counterpart here. It says that be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Or, do not be intoxicated or overcharged or be like the world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind or be conformed to the Word.
How hard to ‘hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ’ without girding the loins of our minds and without sobriety. How hard not to ‘fashion ourselves according to the former lusts in our ignorance’ without girding the loins of our minds and without sobriety. How hard to ‘be holy in all manner of conversation’ without girding the loins of our minds and without sobriety. How hard to pass the time of ‘our sojourning here in fear’ without girding the loins of our minds and without sobriety. Let’s gird up our loins, and let us be sober, and which sobriety is about our mind: A mind away from the world and a mind into the Word! Philippians 4: 8 diligently heeded: How priceless and indispensable in all these!
So then “… whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Think on these things, and never otherwise.
We are commanded to “abstain from all appearance of evil” in I Thessalonians 5: 22. All that appear to our mind as evil we must not entertain or dwell on in our mind; all that appear to our mind as evil we must not hear or see or continue to hear or see; all that appear evil to our mind we must not say; and all that appear evil to our mind we must not act or do! But you may say what appears evil to one may not ‘appear’ evil to another. But the truth really is that what actually truly appears evil to one must necessarily appear evil to all. Self is the problem here. Evil is evil, anywhere, any clime, any age. Only the flesh may want us to see it as evil because the flesh lives by its pleasure. But the more we walk closer with God the more we realize the evils of what we have hitherto justified.
A dark stain on a dark apron is either not seen or not easily noticeable. That same stain of the same size, depth and content on a less darkened material is relatively more noticeable. So, it makes no difference whether you see or can realize it or not: as long as the stain is there, it is just there. The more darkened our spiritual eyes are the more likely we are unable to see the issues that pertain to escaping hell and to fleeing from them, and the more unlikely we are able to see the issues that pertains to life, even eternal life and embrace them.
So that in Christianity everything really matters! To overcome this problem of self-justification or whatever, is a factor of how renewed our minds are, and how renewed our minds is a factor of how we conform to the Word and are transformed by the renewing of our minds (through the Word). To some the light will always shine but the darkness of the mind may not comprehend it and so the things of the world may yet be held; the way of the world may yet be walked in; the fashions of the world may yet be retained; or the counsels of the ungodly may yet be walked on, the way of the sinners may yet be stood on and the seat of the scornful may yet be sat upon.
“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (that is, all manner of conduct) – 1Peter 1: 15! Philippians 4:8 is very crucial in obeying and living out this. The mind or our thought, the ears or our hearings or things we hear, eyes or our ‘visions’ or things we see, the tongue or our words or things we say; our other members or how we behave and what we do form our conduct or our conversation. Philippians 4: 8 addresses all these!
Therefore, there are things to think on, and there are things not to think on. The difference in the two is as the difference between eternal life and eternal damnation. We must necessary watch our minds. Everything matters.