Congratulations! You’ve made it to the second-to-the-last part of our study on biblical peace. Next Sunday we’ll complete our first Sunday Sermon Series! Thank you to all of you who have continued with us to this point. If you’d like to start at the beginning, please click here – “Peace In: Part I.”
Where We Have Been
Over the past five weeks we’ve seen that . . .
- Peace is a conditional promise of divine soul rest powerful enough to overcome out feeling of doubt, depression, anxiety, and anger.
- The first Peace Prerequisite is that we must fulfill our responsibility to God by finding our sole joy in Him.
- The second prerequisite is that we must fulfill our responsibility to others by showing our gentleness in all things because not only is God in us, He is returning soon to collect us unto Himself.
- The third requirement is that we must fulfill our responsibility to this life by not being anxious, but instead taking all of our cares and anxieties to God in humble and thankful trust that He will work in and through them as He’s promised.
- When we are faithful to obey God, He provides a divine peace that stations a spiritual guard over our thoughts and desires – under the ultimate authority of none other than Jesus Christ.
Where We Are Now
In pure Pauline fashion, it’s as if Paul realizes there’s one more important thing he must say to the Philippians on the subject of peace. So he lays out a fourth Peace Prerequisite followed by a second Peace Promise.
4. Our Responsibility to Us
In order to have real, abiding peace we have responsibilities to God, others, and life, but we also have a responsibility to watch our thoughts.
This passage is a familiar one to most of us, but it mustn’t be sped over.
“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.” Philippians 4:8
Anxiety, depression, anger, and doubt all stem from unbiblical thoughts.
1. Anxiety grows out of inordinate concern about the possible “bad” outcomes of a situation or decision:
“No one’s going to like me at this new school.”
“We’ll never pay off our debts.”
“What if my son never comes back to God.”
2. Depression springs from the fertile soil of sad thinking:
“I’ll won’t see my dad again.”
“Everyone hates me.”
“I can’t be a good mom.”
3. Anger breeds in selfish mindsets:
“I’ve been at work all day. Why can’t they just be quiet?”
“Who do you think you are?”
3. Doubt flies up from a lack of trust:
“I don’t know what to do.”
“No one understands how I feel.”
“There’s no good choice.“
But when we can control our thoughts through the power of God, we strip the soil of our minds of the sinfulness that leads to a lack of peace.
But what types of thoughts produce peace?
1. True – This word is the same one Jesus used to introduce divine truth. It encompasses all of God’s absolute, unchanging, and inerrant truth. Therefore we must know His truth in order to dwell on it. This brings peace, for when a question sprouts, the truth of God hidden in our hearts provides the answer. Also, by rejecting lies, deception, and errant philosophy we shelter ourselves from the types of thoughts that lead to self-worship, anxiety, and doubt.
2. Honorable – When we think on that which good, admirable, and deserving of high esteem, we prepare our minds for peace. Honor is a vanishing species in our age. To be respected and highly esteemed for Christ-honoring reasons is almost unheard of. But when we think of honorable things the lyrics from The Sound of Music sound almost inspired:
“When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.”
Denying base thoughts provides a freshness that allows the “high” thoughts of God to run free.
3. Right – Don’t let your mind dwell on wickedness! This is incredibly difficult when we slake our psyches with filth from the soiled wells of modern entertainment. Righteousness – that which in action and motivation attains to God’s standards of excellence – must be the water we bathe our minds in.
4. Pure – Immaculate. Purified from every fault. The rotten apple metaphor works well here. Be careful that something that is “mostly good” doesn’t crack the door for worse influences later on. If it’s not purely holy, don’t think about it!
5. Lovely – This is the only time this word is used in the New Testament. It has the idea of being pleasing and agreeable. Paul has a wonderful way of layering on his adjectives in a way as to leave no room for misunderstanding. Yes, your thoughts need to be true, honorable, righteous, and pure, but they must also be lovable. Ask yourself, “Would God love what I’ve been thinking about today?” “Does God love how I’ve been thinking today?”
6. Reputable – This word is similar to being honorable, but it carries the added idea of being well-spoken of. Do people who love the Lord and His truth speak well of the things that occupy my mind? This is an important reminder that wise counselors are valuable. If they don’t agree with the things that have occupied my thoughts or the ways in which I’ve been interpreting my circumstances, I must accept that my thoughts are not reputable.
7. Excellent – This word denotes moral excellence necessary in the out-working of faith. Paul encourages us to think on anything and everything that is excellent. “Is there any excellence? Then think on it.”
8. Praise Worthy – As God views your mental transcript, does He turn to the angels and pronounce, “Watch this. It’s wonderful“? Could He say to Satan, “Have you considered my servant? His thoughts are praise-worthy.”
I didn’t want to wax too wordy with today’s study, but it was imperative that we be reminded of the type of thoughts that should be allowed to thrive and the kinds that must be put to death on the spot.
I’m once again amazed by the all-inclusive generalities Paul uses. He’s so incredibly certain that this is the only way to glorify God and have abiding peace that he leaves no room for thinking about anything that doesn’t match this list perfectly.
Ladies and gentlemen, this can be done. Don’t shortchange God! If you find yourself thinking, “That’s too hard!” then your thoughts are not true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, reputable, excellent, or worthy of praise.
No wonder you feel hopeless.
I’m not surprised you’re struggling with depression.
Your mindset is not in line with God’s prescription for correct thinking, and you will not have peace as long as you entertain them.
Accept the reality that God’s way is the only way to have lasting soul-rest.
Continue to Part VII.