♣ Think on These Things
“Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honourable, 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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practise these things and the God of peace will be with you” – Philippians 4:8-9.
IS IT ANY wonder Paul exhorted us to be renewed in the spirit of our minds? Our mind is the greatest thing we use long before our bodies; when not debilitated by physical illness, our bodies are subservient to our minds.
The majority of Paul’s life was spent through serious adversity and conditions for the Christian in the first century afforded no ease or luxury, unless of course you compromised with and loved the world. Do you ever marvel at how Paul expected believers to think heavenly-mindedly amidst a world that treated them in such inhumane ways? By New Testament standards, persecution is something that is so foreign to our prosperous and luxurious cultures; we think we’re having hard times, but in all fairness, it comes nowhere near to being extremely mild compared to what many of our brothers and sisters in the faith are suffering in other countries at the hands of those who are blatantly opposed to Christianity.
We are, nevertheless, witnessing sudden shifts and changes amidst the landslides of immorality that pervade our once ‘Christian’ nations. We cannot deny that Christianity (uncompromising with the world) has grown unpopular and ironically, in a world of toleration, those who live by God’s standards are not to be tolerated. With all the upheaval in our political world and polarity the household of true faith encounters, what mindset takes precedence over our lives – the daily news or God’s Word? What governs our perspectives? We hear it often said through our mainstream media, ‘Breaking News’ but rather, it ought to be rephrased as ‘News in a Breaking World’. We live in a very depressing world and sin (the fall of man) produces those exact results. Of course, sin gratifies the flesh – and that is the satanic delusion – but then afterwards only proves to escalate the search for a harder fix while such souls are crushed with an insatiable and hopeless thirst.
The plethora of atrocities, war, human brutality, the prevailing debased mentality and the decay of death all around are enough to send any one of us over the edge if we are without the grace of God. We cannot deny or turn a blind eye to these realities. Nevertheless, as new creations in Christ, we are exhorted, by the God-breathed letters of Paul, to dwell on the greater Realities that honour and glorify God. That is the key: dwelling upon; they are the kind of thoughts that we ought to allow to prevail in our minds. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in your hearts.” Focussing our minds as directed in Philippians chapter four will result in knowing the peace of God. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You” Isaiah 26:3 states. It is not that we should ignore the ugliness that goes on in the world; it ought not to become our focal point and perspective on life; do not dwell on it. Reality is that, through the Fall, humanity has inherited death and the effects thereof, but the overall prevailing greater Reality is that a fallen humanity can be redeemed through Christ (and through Him alone). That is mankind’s only hope for true inward change – never the New World Order that our high officials are pushing for.
Consider what nature of thinking Paul exhorts us to feed our minds with: whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy – not once do we find Paul directing us to think morbidly. Of course, at the beginning of the list, he mentions “whatever is true”, but that in no way substantiates the reason to fix our minds on the depravity that does take place around us; that is something completely different to acknowledging what goes on in the world. For every time we read and watch the news – and it is important to do so – we should look twice at the Word of God. Not only does His Word truthfully and accurately diagnose the condition of this world, but equally important, it provides the cure.
Was the Apostle Paul advocating some kind of philosophical escapism through positive thinking, or was the Spirit of God exhorting us to channel our minds in a God-honouring way that results in peaceful stability to withstand any adverse situation? Positive thinking will never garrison the heart like God’s peace will. Positive or New Age thinking will not sustain us under trials or overcome the forces of darkness that outwit such ludicrousness. It takes something infinitely greater: “My peace I give unto you” – the world’s peace is fickle and shallow and will prove void of power when confronted with clouds of despair. New Age philosophy will deny what goes on around us; the Christian is to face them head on in the light of God’s Truth. God doesn’t deliver us out of certain circumstances, but rather, gloriously makes us more than conquerors through them – and there is the difference; we go through the storms, we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death and we are held up under them and why? Because God’s Word is our interpreter; we know that what it says is Truth, just as Peter wrote: “And we have something more sure [than seeing Jesus transfiguring before them], the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21). God is our sure Anchor – a hope that can never be disappointed for it is impossible for Him to lie.
The whole of creation groans, Paul states in Romans eight, to be set free from its bondage according to the corruption of man. Sin has affected everything. The world has been dealing with the misery of the consequences of man’s fall, even though society strictly denies such a thing having taken place, nevertheless, the evidence is all around. The Christian, however, eagerly looks forward to all of creation being renewed; he or she recognises and acknowledges the present sufferings all around, but is governed by the incomparable glory to come.
The Christian, at certain periods, may be susceptible to an array of the most despairing and diabolical thoughts imaginable. This may venture on for some time, especially if it’s an extraordinary onslaught by spiritual forces of evil and God will allow this in order to train and gird up the loins of believers minds. How our minds are apt to become very lazy at times and there is nothing as effective as adversity to counter such mental and spiritual lethargy. The Christian may encounter defeat and feel that all is getting out of control, but God is the One Who is in control and will either provide a way of deliverance or endue the Christian with added grace to not only withstand such assaults, but actually stand firm and grow in the ways of God knowing that victory is on the horizon.
Paul states that our inward man is being renewed day by day, despite all of the outward decay, but do we realise that Paul was writing to Christians whose hope was steadfast in God? That never implies that these early believers never suffered discouragement; Paul would remind these believers of the glory to come, but he also confirmed the hope that was already within them. The world in which they lived called for Paul to exhort them to go on being transformed by the renewing of their minds which is the very antidote to worldly conformity; it is not just a one-time act. Imagination is one of the greatest gifts to humanity but how many of us use it to the glory of God; how many of us really think to the glory of God? “May the meditation [thoughts] of my heart be acceptable in Your sight” (Psalm 19:14). Oswald Chambers was right when he said, “Undisciplined imagination is the greatest disturber not only of growth in grace, but of spiritual sanity.” Our own experience will testify to that being true. It is a continual setting of our minds on things that are above, where Christ is seated and where our very lives are hidden, that sets the note in how we conduct our lives. It is a deliberate setting and disciplined focus until the mind of Christ is formed in us. Can we say we are being renewed day by day, that we are indeed growing daily in the power of God’s grace?
Posted on May 3, 2014, in ♣ Devotional and tagged 2 Peter 1:19-21, creation renewed, devotional, discipline, focus, God's peace, imagination, Incomparable glory, Mark Anthony Williams, meditation, mental lethargy, Oswald Chambers, perspective, Philippians 4:8-9, Psalm 19:14, renewed, spiritual lethargy, Think on These Things, think to the glory of God, thinking, transformed. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.