By Evan Pyle

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.
(Philippians 4:8)


When the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write “think on these things,” he delivered a mandate to the people of God to direct their thinking in a godly way. According to the list in Philippians 4:8, we are to think upon the attributes of our Creator and of his creation. These are things that glorify and please God.

The idea that one may direct one’s thoughts in a particular way is foreign to many people. As far as they know, thoughts simply happen. But the fact that God calls on us to direct our thinking means that we are able to do it. When the Lord commands us to do something, he also enables us to carry it out.

Thoughts bear fruit. Thoughts are the seeds of words and deeds. You cannot plant evil seed to bear good fruit, and good seed cannot produce evil fruit. God is calling on us to plant seeds that are true, honest, lovely, pure and virtuous.

Jeremiah 6:19:
Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.

Proverbs 21:5:
The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.

Matthew 15:19:
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies....

God knows our thoughts and he is concerned with their content. He pays attention to what we are thinking because our thinking reveals the state of our heart and motivation.

Psalm 94:11:
The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

God sets the highest standard for our thinking. Jesus told his followers that whoever looked on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart (Matt. 5:28). It is not enough simply to direct our actions in a God-pleasing manner, but we must also direct our thoughts away from this fallen world and its sinful ways and toward thoughts that reflect God’s holy nature.

When the Holy Spirit tells us that the love of God “thinketh no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5), he sets a standard that fallen man cannot approach. It is an unattainable benchmark that seemingly sets us up for failure. But God has made a way through Christ. His provision is the “mind of Christ,” given to born-again believers in Jesus. Our part is to put off the old and put on Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16:
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Romans 13:14:
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Galatians 5:16:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

The word of God is critical to thinking rightly for it has the power to discern our thoughts and intentions. We as fallen humans have an almost limitless capacity to deceive ourselves. We need continual input from the word of God, in whose light every wrong way is revealed and the right way illumined so we can walk therein.

Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

We do not always recognize when our thoughts have taken a wrong turn because so much of our thinking is the result of habit. The Scriptures alert us to our errant ways and challenge us to direct our thinking in a God-honoring way. Paul compared guiding one’s thoughts to a battle against a fortified enemy.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...

Like any great change, redirecting our thoughts is difficult work. To win the fight we must wield those spiritual weapons that God gave us in Christ. Old habits will rise up against any attempt to impose a change. We need persistence and determination to persevere in this fight and establish godly habits. Paul pointed out the indignant, zealous attitude we must cultivate if we are to conquer sinful patterns.

2 Corinthians 7:11:
For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

I pray that we may cultivate a godly zeal against the things that displease our Lord. The fruit of godly repentance is zeal for the things that please God and against the things that do not. Until we attack the strongholds of sinful thinking with indignation, fear, vehement desire, and revenge; we will continue to coexist with our old ways. Now is not the time to be satisfied and at peace with our current progress. It is the time to put off the old and to put on Christ, making no room for the flesh (Rom. 13:14). As Paul said, “Walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

God promises that if we commit our works unto the Lord, our thoughts will be established (Prov. 16:3). The opposite is equally true: If we fail to commit our ways to God, our thoughts will flit to and fro. They have no sure foundation, no standard of measure on which to find firm footing.

Jeremiah 4:14:
O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?

Job 31:1:
I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

The Christian discipline of directing our thoughts in a godly manner is summarized: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14). The Bible calls for disciples to put off the “old man” with its deceitful lusts and to put on the “new man,” which is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:22, 24). The power for a changed life is the indwelling Holy Spirit given to all who believe on Jesus. It is impossible to “improve” our old ways into something acceptable to God. We are to consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:11). “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Jesus is our provision for godly thinking, for “we have the mind of Christ.”

1 Timothy 4:15:
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

We are to think upon godly, God-honoring, God-glorifying things. When we do, our thoughts are seeds that will bear fruit in righteous deeds, a true peace, and a Christ-like demeanor. Jesus is our provision in all things. He enables us to put off the old and to put on Christ. Through him we are able to live a life in which old things are passed away and all things are become new.



From the March 2012 issue of The Vine & Branches