Sunday, December 08, 2013

Our Mind and the Truth

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.
The things you have learned and received and heard 
and seen in me, practice these things and the God
of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9


"An old subject is thus brought before us again:  the cardinal place occupied by the Christian's mind, for good as well as for ill.  Just as a carnal mind is the surest passport to the downward path, so a mind drilled in the things of which God approves is the steadiest way into practical holiness.  If, in a difficult relationship (1), we allow our minds and judgment to be clouded by half-truth, or if we allow frivolous and damaging thoughts about the other person (2) to simmer in our minds, we are hardly being like Christ.  We should rather determine to think only the truth about the other person (2), to value what is attractive and praiseworthy about him.  This will prove to be the way of peace.

We are to meditate on, to prize as valuable, and to be influenced by all that is true, all that merits serious thought and encourages serious-mindedness, all that accords with justice and moral purity, all that is fragrant and lovely, all that brings with it a good word, that speaks well, what ever has genuine worth of any sort and merits praise.  It is the will of God that by giving attention to things of which he approves we should shape our minds to be like his:  to those who do so, he pledges his guardian peace and his own presence as the God of peace."

Alec Motyer
The Message of Philippians
Page 212

The italics above are mine, and for #1 you could substitute situation or circumstance; and for #2 you could substitute the Lord.

Philippians 4:8 is a powerful verse.  It is one of  the verses that should be required memorization for every Christian.  It is the verse that both guards and shapes our mind.  Proverbs 23:7 tells us, "As a man thinks within himself, so he is."  And how we think within ourselves should be guarded and shaped by Philippians 4:8.  

For this post there are two things I would like for us to take note of in this verse:

First is the word dwell (think in the ESV).  The Lord could have used the two most common Greek words for think, phroneo or dokeo, but He didn't.  Instead He used the word logizomai.   This word means more than just having an opinion or giving acknowledgment.   It means to give careful consideration, to make a reasoned reflection, to be circumspect about.  It implies deliberateness and seriousness.  As it is used here, logizomai is also in the present tense and imperative mood, which means it is a permanent command to the point that these qualities are to be the habitual focus of our mind; and then these qualities, qualities of which God approves, will guard and shape our mind.      

Second, is the word truth.  This word is the first word in this list of eight things which our minds are to be dwelling upon.  The primary, most important, first and foremost thing which we are to give careful consideration to is the truth.  Truth is to be the gatekeeper of our mind, and the main shaper of our thoughts. All the other qualities that we are to let our mind dwell on should always be subject to the truth.  Truth is the best thing we can know, and the most reliable and powerful thing we can reflect upon.  

The most important, most reliable, and most powerful truth we can know, and therefore dwell upon is the truth about God.  How we think about God and what we think about God greatly affect our life, and how we respond to all the different situations we find ourselves in is based in large part on our view of God, and our view of God is shaped by what we know about God.  So knowing the truth about God is paramount.

The second most important truth we can know, is the truth about ourselves.  It is against the backdrop and in light of the truth about God that we gain insight into the truth about ourselves, and in knowing the truth about ourselves we begin to see ourselves as God sees us. We see our life and all of its dynamics from God's viewpoint.  We see our motives, our reactions, our plans, our thoughts and desires from God's vantage point, and we began to view ourselves in light of the truth that we know about God.  Of course this truth was realized, brought to full view and manifested thoroughly, in Jesus Christ (John 1:17) because He is the embodiment of the truth (John 14:6).

Where can we go to find this truth?  Why, of course, we go to the word of God, which is truth (John 17:17), and speaks the truth concerning every subject it touches (Psalm 119:160).  The truth which should guard our mind and shape our thoughts is found in the Scriptures, and is the Scriptures themselves, as the Bible does not contain the truth, but is the truth.

Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.  Our mind is renewed (continually made new) as we grow in knowledge of the truth.  In John 8:32, Christ tells us that in knowing the truth we shall be set free.  Starting with salvation, there are a myriad of applications in this verse, but the base line is that we shall be set free from the shackles of the lies of the enemy, the lies of the world, and the lies of our flesh. These are the lies we have been believing for most of our life, lies that have shaped our thoughts and governed the course of our life, lies that have made our lives miserable, lies that have separated us from God and from others, lies that our unredeemed flesh still wants to cling to.

So, it is imperative that we know the truth, and not just know the truth but continually reflect upon all that we know to be true, to give deliberate, serious, and careful consideration to what we know to be true.  As we do this, our knowledge of the truth, what is true about God, ourselves, and life will grow; and as we engage our minds on the things we know to be true, our mind will be guarded from what is false...the lies of the enemy, the world, and our flesh...and our mind will be trained and shaped.

The result is peace and the abiding presence, the powerful presence, the protecting presence, the peaceful presence of the Lord of the universe, who Himself, is the God of peace.

Friends, let us determine today, and pray today for strength, wisdom, and discernment in the things that are true, so that our minds will be fixed upon only that which is true, so we will be people of the truth.  In doing this we will be set free, and have the peace that surpasses all human comprehension.  

   

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