Think back to the last few days. What has your thinking been like? What have you given time and focus to? If someone were to take every thought you’ve had in the last two days, would they describe it as: true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy? If not, Paul has a word for you.
In Philippians 4.8, Paul has been outlining the boundaries of what our minds are to dwell, think, and meditate upon. As we’ve said before, each of these “whatever” statements is a focus upon Jesus; for He is the fullness of truth, purity, virtue, praise, etc.
In the last two studies we discovered that our minds are to be guarded and bound by truth and nobility. Not just correct facts, but Truth itself. How will I know if something is true? I must become so intimate with Truth (Jesus) that anything that doesn’t look, smell, feel, or sound like Him, I immediately know is a lie (the $100 bill test). I am also to think upon that which is noble and honorable. The Greeks used this word for noble to describe an individual who lived life as if the whole world was the temple of God. There was a noble seriousness in the way they acted, talked, and thought. Rather than thinking flippant and foolishly, there was a dignity to the way these individuals lived.
Whatever … is just
The Greek word for “just” is dikaios, and as an adjective could be translated “righteous.” The Greeks used this word to describe a person who was duty-bound to the gods or other people. Throughout the New Testament it often has to do with being upright, keeping the laws of God, to walk a straight and narrow way, and to live an innocent and guiltless life.
Several times throughout Scripture, this word is used to describe God (see John 17:25, Acts 3:14, 7:52, 22:14, 1 John 2:1). We also discover that it is the righteous (dikaios) that shall live by faith (Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38) and whose prayer is powerful and effective (James 5:16).
Too often we choose to focus on what can bring us happiness, comfort, ease, and pleasure. We frequently think only as much as we have to and even then it’s often directed toward ourselves. We don’t live duty bound to God and others. Though we may desire to live a righteous life, our minds are focused on the opposite—that which is unrighteous, unclean, perverse, contentious, wrathful, selfish, envious, and the like (see Galatians 5:19-21).
But dear friend, it must not be so! We are called to have upright, focused, innocent and guiltless minds and lives—to be righteous, just as He is righteous.
My friend Eric Ludy defines righteousness as “the correct, proper, just, pure, noble, honorable pattern for living—the most virtuous course, the most perfect means, the most correct methodology and behavior.” Would that describe your thought life?
We need the rightness of the Righteous One to come and fill our lives until our hearts and minds only dwell upon that which is in perfect harmony with God’s standards as revealed through Scripture.
Whatever … is pure
Purity has been ostracized in our culture today. Few desire to live within its protection and many of those within its borders are camped out next to the exit looking to see how close they can push the boundary before crossing over.
The word pure in our Philippians passage is from the same root as the word “saint” and is defined as holy, morally clean, and undefiled. In a similar sense, a saint is one who is set apart, undefiled, and uninfluenced by the world around them.
Purity is not so much about outward actions (though they are included) as it is about the inward heart and mind. I can act pure (not commit adultery or fornication) while still being impure within my heart (filled with lust).
Over the last ten years, I have spent a lot of time mentoring young men. Sadly in our culture today, perhaps more than ever before, purity seems to be one of the “big” issues every man must win victory within in order to move forward in his spiritual life (the same is no doubt true for women as well). And yet, young men assume that they can fill their minds with junk and live a pure life. Whether it be hours of movies, video games, violence, or lust, their minds are anything but “holy, set apart, clean, and undefiled.” They use excuses like: “No one will know,” “It’s just window shopping,” “It’s not hurting anyone,” “I have no control over my dream life,” “The violence isn’t even real, it’s called entertainment.” But in the end, all excuses fall flat because true purity is not merely about the external but the internal.
Have you ever thought about what your life might look like if you had a mind that was governed by purity? A mind that wasn’t filled with filth, perverseness, and the junk of the world? Is it possible for Jesus to take your past, your previous thought life, your memories and cleanse your mind to the point where you only think and dwell upon that which is pure? Yes!
The word pure in our passage, when used ceremonially, describes that which has been cleansed so it is now fit to be brought into the presence of God and used in His service.
You must recognize that despite how dirty, improper, diluted, and polluted your thinking has been in the past, Jesus wants to take your mind and cleanse it by His blood; so that you can enter His presence and be used in His service. He, the Pure One, wants to become the focus of every thought.
Psalm 119:9 says: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word” (NASB). The key to keeping your heart and mind pure is keeping your focus upon the Living Word (Jesus) and the Written Word—which is one of the reasons I am such an advocate for Saturation Bible Study and practicing the presence of God. In both cases you are saturating your heart, mind, and life with the Word of God and involving Jesus in the everyday moments of life through continual prayer.
What about you? Is your thinking soiled or is it marked by a clean purity? Does your mind edify or pollute your life? Are your thoughts so pure that they could stand the scrutiny of God? If not the answer is simple: you need Jesus.
Romans 12:2 declares: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
We need a renewal of our hearts and minds. We need Jesus to flush our old way of thinking—with all of its impurity and pollution—and transform us into a vessel pure, holy, set apart, righteous, unstained and unspotted by the world. May Jesus not only renew and transform your heart and mind but be the very thing you dwell upon.
Check out the other articles in this series: