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1 Kings 16:28 & Philippians 4:4-8 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 38 secs

Spiritual Strength; Mentally Disciplined. 1 Kings 16:28; Philippians 4:4-8

Phil 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

Phil 4:5 Let your gentle {spirit} be known to all men. The Lord is near.

Phil 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Phil 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Every believer is given the same assets and the same privileges. We have the Spirit of God and the Word of God; we are all equally blessed and given every spiritual blessingv in the heavenlies.  But what makes the difference between one believer who succeeds and glorifies God to the maximum in his life and another believer who is going to show up at the judgment seat of Christ, have everything burned up and have no gold, silver and precious stones—everything is wood, hay and straw; still saved but without any spiritual growth, without anything that has eternal value—is volition. How we choose to access, utilize and learn about the assets that God has given us makes the difference. Results are determined by volition and how well a person is going to utilize his talents, abilities, in order to produce something. In Scripture this emphasis on personal responsibility comes out of the fist divine institution. The second issue is right thinking. If we are operating on a frausulent system of thought, a human viewpoint fantasy concept—as a result of Romans chapter one: suppressing the truth by means of unrighteousness—then we are going to become further and further divorced from reality. Any believer or unbeliever who rejects the truth of God's Word—that creation says it is what He says it is, that life is what God says it is and that the issues in life are what God says they are—and we live on the basis of our own construct of reality, then the end result is going to be failure and we are going to experience crises in our lives. And that is an opportunity to turn around, get back to God, and recognize that our way is "the path of death" as Proverbs says. So the emphasis here is on these two aspects and right thinking, and that is emphasized by the verbiage that we see in Philippians 4:4-20.

We have certain results emphasized within the passage: that if we carry out these mandates the peace from God protects our soul and fortifies it; it garrisons it; it provides a protection and defense, verse 7.  Then we have "the God of peace" (Paul goes from the peace of God to the God of peace) will be with us. He is the source of that peace, verse 9. Then as a result we can surmount any and every circumstance in life because we understand what we have in Christ, verse 13. The emphasis throughout this passage is on thought and there are a number of different words that have a thinking nuance to them. The spiritual life is about thought. The word "gentle" in verse 5 is a word that ultimately goes back to having a mentality of humility. It is not an overt gentleness, it is a mental humility that works itself out in a certain grace oriented way of dealing with other people. Our "hearts" and minds" are two words that are used somewhat synonymously in verse 7; they relate to thinking, the thinking part of our soul. We have the word to think in 4:9, logizomai [logizomai], to "think on these things." In vv. 9 & 12 there are two different words for learning. Learning is a thought process, exchanging bad thoughts and bad ideas for truth. "Concerned" is a word for thoughtful in verse 10. The Philippians were thoughtful of Paul. They thought a lot about his circumstances and his needs, and provided for them. Knowing is used twice in verse twelve and again in verse fifteen, so these words emphasize thought—which covers the passage. This is a passage abpout how God trains believers to think, and it is that thionking that is the basis for action.

Elijah has to learn how to think correctly about God and the way God is going to provide for him so that when he gets on Mount Carmel and confronts the false priests of Baal and the Asherah he is not going to be operating on emotion or anger, he is not fgoing to become fearful and threatened by the opposition as he stands there against the priests of the opposition and before the people. He has complete confidence in God and he is relaxed in God because he has learned how to think biblically.

There is one command related to discipline in verse nine: "practice these things." That entails discipline, concentration and focus, and of we are going to learn to think correctly then we are going to have to learn how to make ourselves, discipline ourselves, to think and apply consistently. It is not just a matter of implementing it on occasion when it feels like it, or when we are tired of Giod kicking us in the seat of the pants; it is a matter of being a self-starter spiritually and learning to live our lives on the sufficiency of God's grace.

So we see this emphasis on thinking. As a believer there are basically two ways to think about everything. There are only two ways to think about life: God's way and man's way. Human viewpoint is just a mirror reflection on Satan's viewpoint. Man in his independence from God is simp,ly imitating what Satan did in the original fall. As believers we recognnize that we have to learn to think as God thinks: that God in  His thinking designed reality from eternity past, and He created things to be the way they are—a tree is a tree, not because it just happened that way but because that is the way God designed that tree. So God's thinking is what defines things and determines things to be the way they are. Man comes along in his arrogance and says he wants things to be different. Well the more we think things and act as if things are different the more divorced we become from reality. As believers the challenge is for us to get our thinking back in line with God's, and that begins with the Scripture. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:16 NASB "For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind [thinking] of Christ." We can know how God thinks because God has told us. We are told in the Scripture exactly how He would have us to think.

The process of spiritual gowth is laid out in Romans 12:2 NASB "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed [complete overhaul] by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.}" The Greek word there for "world" is not kosmos [kosmoj], it is the word aionos [ai)wmoj] which has to do with the thinking of that time period. As we go through human history there are different periods of time, different ages, and there are different ideas that dominate those periods of time. So if we are not to be conformed to the spirit of the age, the thinking of the age around us, one of the things that we should be aware of is what the characteristics of the spirit of the age are in our time. How have we been brainwashed from the time when we were in the cradle up to the current time by the ideas and the values of the culture around us—ways in which many of us are not really conscious, we have just absorbed these through peers, through parents, etc., and we have to learn how to identify those areas in our own life that are really counterfeit doctrines that sound good, seem to be common sense, but they breally aren't. Satan is a master at taking words and concepts that are biblical and then just tweaking them a little bit so that they still incorporate a lot of biblical truth, but now have been tweaked and changed so that they are no longer doctrinal. Man becomes the center rather than God. So we have to ujnderstand something about the zeitgeist of our own age so that we can take our doctrinal howitzers out and blow these things out of our minds. That is part of what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 10 about "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." The Greek word in Romans 12:2 for "renewing" [of your mind] emphasizes thinking, thought. So we have to dig deep into our thoughts. We have to change not only the details of our thought but also the structure of our thought. This happens over a lifetime of commitment to biblical study and application.

The purpose is that we may demonstrate something. It is our testimony both before the angels and man that God's will is good and acceptable and perfect. And that is only demonstrated when we are enacting biblical principles in our life. It starts with thinking. Notice that in Romans 12:2 Paul draws out the contrast between the thinking of the age, the zeitgeist [paganism or human viewpoint], and the perfection of divine viewpoint. He draws out the principle that we often learn by contrast, by comparing the truth and error. Sometimes error comes packaged by Satan in a way that is very close to truth. He even borrows biblical language. Many times what we find in Christianity is because people in a church come out of a the zeitgeist surrounding them and bring with them to the study of the Bible human viewpoint terminology and concepts that sound similar to biblical truth. The next thing we know we have substituted a biblical concept and vocabulary for a contemporary vocabulary, but what we don't realize is that words mean things, and by making that little shift often we have brought a Trojan horse into our thinking; so we are just off-center and not biblical anymore, we have just baptized secular "truth."

In Philippians 4:8 we come to one of the great verses in the Bible that deal with the believer's thought: the importance of the way we think, not just the structure of our thinking but the things that make up our thinking. NASB "Finally, brethren, , dwell on these things." The word "dwell" is logizomai, a word that focuses on thinking. "Meditate" is a good translation, it captures the essence of the ideas, what is to characterize our thinking.  When  people look at this and think about what Paul says subsequent to this in this chapter we recognize that it is talking about mental attitude. A way in which it is sometimes expressed is that this is talking about the believer's positive mental attitude, that the believer needs to think positively. But that is a loaded word that we should not use. The Bible never addresses thought or anything in these concepts as positive or ngeative. Biblical truth isn't electricity, it isn't something physical that has a charge one way or the other. This idea of positive thinking is really a Trojan horse that has come into Christianity in many different ways.

Most of us when we think of positive thought probably think along the lines of a statement that Winston Churchill once made that relates to this idea: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." So we look at a quote like that and say it's great, it is thinking positively. In a general sense it is but that is not what we are talking about by positive thought. That is not what the term means. It really comes out of rich religious heritage; the roots come out of the 19th century. It has roots both in neo-Platonic mystecism and Hinduism. It reared itself in the thinking of people in the early 19th century New England under the ideas of transcendentalism. Transcendentalism was also linked with European thought—Hegel and others—in 19th century idealism. In the same context as what we see in the 19th century is several other things that came up. One was new thought metaphysics, the idea that your mind controls your reality. That is what positive thinking is, it is not just being optimistic or confident about things. It is really the idea that you can shape and determine your reality by the way you think—the creature dictates reality by the way he thinks. These people viewed thought as energy and that you could actually change other people and other things if you had the right thought energy. (Christian Science; Theosophy) So you take all of these ideas that were floating around in the 19th century and mix them all up in a sort of witch's brew and out of the other end you get dominant ideas that affect the church in the 20th and 21st century—prosperity gospel or the word of faith movement, self-esteem movement, etc. 

So Paul in Philippians 4:8 outlines some things that should characterize our thinking: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise."

The word "true," alethes [a)lhqhj], assumes that there is something that fits an absolute external reference point: whatever conforms to absolute truth. Absolute truth resides in the thinking of God, and so if we are going to think that which is true we have to have an understanding of the thought of God, an understanding of the Word of God. The field of meaning of alethes is that which is true, that which is sincere, really correct, faithful, trustworthy, genuine or veracious. The idea here would be that which conflorms to reality, reality being defined by God's Word, that which conforms to God's thinking. Psalm 31:5 NASB "Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth." He is the source of truth, Psalm 119:142 relates to the truth of God's revelation. NASB "Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth." [151 "You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth." So if we are thinking on anything that is true it has to be consistent with God's Word, it has to come out from God's Word. [160] "The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting." Proverbs 3:3 NASB "Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart." These are chappenges to us that we need to learn the truth from God's Word and let that shape our thinking—then what we say and what we do. John 17:17 NASB "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."

The word "honorable," semnos [semnoj]. That which is worthy of reverence, adoration, is venerable. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "honorable" as the quaolity of moral excellence or moral virtue. So if semnos is "honorable" is is talking about thought that is consistent with moral excellence or moral virtue. We are not going to think about things that are not morally excellent or virtuous. That fits with the next word, "right," which is dikaios [dikaioj] which is the word for justice or righteousness. It has to do with the standard of God's own character. This ties back to the idea of semnos and truth, it is located with God and within His standard. Our thinking needs to be restricted to those things that relate to His character.

The next word "pure" is hagna [a(gna], pure or holy. This word is only used a few times in the Old Testament to translate the Hebrew word which is predominantly translated by the Greek word katharos [kaqaroj], "clean." It has to do with that which is ceremonially clean. An application to us of this would be to keep our minds on things that would keep us in fellowship. It is a mental discipline.

The fith word is prosphiles [prosfilhj], which means we are to think thoughts that are grace oriented, that are kindly disposed to people—give them the benefit of the doubt. That doesn't mean that you don't think critically and truthfully about people but we are not going to let our minds dwell on what the idiots are doing. We are going to leave them in the hands of the Lord and move forward in our own spiritual lives.

Sixth is "good report," euphemos [e)ufhmoj] has to do with words that sound well, speaking well, saying things that are good and pleasing about somebody and not running them down and being destructively judgmental. So the old addage: If you can't think of something good to say about somebody, don't say anything at all.

The summary is "virtue," arete [a)reth], the highest of all moral excellence; "… and if anything worthy of praise." Only God is worthy of praise. The idea here is that the thoughts are those thoughts are the thoughts that are totally consistent with the character of God. This means we have to think about our thinking.           

A diamond is produced by a tremendous amount of pressure or adversity on carbon, which is garbage. God is in the process of converting garbage into His glory, and He does that in our lives by taking us through adversity, through various pressures in life, and as we learn to think about about those and react and respond to them on the basis of Bible doctrine spiritual growth takes place. That is what Paul is talking ab out in this chapter which is filled with these words related to thought and to mental attitude. As we think about these things then God the Holy Spirit is transforming that carnal garbage in our soul and is producing diamonds in our lives: gold, silver and precious stones so that there is something of value at the judgment seat of Christ. But it depends on two things: our volition and our thinking.

Philippians 4:9 NASB "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me…" That is the teaching process. Paul got out of fellowship; he is not talking about the things where he blew it. He is talking about the times in his life where they saw that he was emulating the truth and how to think this way. He gave them a pattern, as much as any of us can, for beingv Christ-like. The result: "… practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." It is that mental attitude. As we implement this the result is peace, which is tranquility, contentment, a relaxed mental attitude about the circumstances of life no matter how bad they are.

The result of this is that Paul can say: Philippians 4:10 NASB "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned {before,} but you lacked opportunity. [11] Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." That word "content" is the Greek word autarkes [a)utarkhj] which in many contexts means to be self-sufficient. But here his self-sufficiency isn't in his natural human resources but in what God has provided for him. That is where we become contecnt, happy and at peace, because we understand God's resources and we are living on that basis.

Paul can conclude, then, in Philippians 4:12, 13 NASB "I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." God took Paul through that learning process so that he could get to this point and say he had learned now how to relax whether he had a lot or had nothing, and to relax in every circumstance. He didn't say he was learning to think positively, he is learning to think biblically. The "doing all things" is living in these circumstances.

Philippians 4:14 NASB "Nevertheless, you have done well to share {with me} in my affliction." Because they have given generously for his support he praises them for this…. [17] "Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account." This is what shows what has transformed their character, and the spiritual value it has for their spiritual life is what is important.

Philippians 4:19 NASB "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." That is what Elijah is learning; that is what we need to learn. God is the one who supplies all of our needs to face any and all circumstances in life, but it comes through Jesus Christ—orientation to His thinking, orientation to the Sword of God, and walking by means of the Spirit. 

Illustrations