How To Think Positively and Biblically

Bible Book: Philippians  4 : 7
Subject: Thinking, Positive; Thinking, Biblical
INTRODUCTION

Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” You are not what you think you are, but what you think; you are. A troubled mind is a convenient depository for the seeds of doubt, despair, and wickedness.

The Bible teaches that Satan wants to corrupt our minds with his lies.

2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

Jesus spoke of the reality of Satan’s purpose and motive.

John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

And again in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 the Apostle Paul made it crystal clear that there is indeed a battle raging for our minds and the way we perceive.

BARNA UPDATE:

“70 Million Americans Feel Held Back by their Past”

In the middle of one of the nation’s deepest economic recessions and the Occupy Wall Street protests, much has been said about residents’ economic mood and outlook. Yet, what if other underlying factors are being overlooked, such as whether Americans feel they are fulfilling their own personal potential or not?

This article examines these kinds of indicators, looking at how we think about our lives:

1. One-third of Americans are struggling to live to their “fullest potential.”

One out of every three adults in this country say they are not living life to their fullest potential, including those who say they are “not at all” (6%) or “not much (26%). A slim majority of adults (57%) feel they are “mostly” fulfilling their potential, while about one out of eight (12%) feel “completely” fulfilled. Those most likely to feel they are fulfilling their potential include Elders (age 65+), practicing Christians, and Bible readers.

Interestingly, education was correlated with fulfillment, but only to a certain point: college graduates were some of the least dissatisfied, but they were also some of the least likely to feel completely fulfilled. A similar pattern emerged with regard to personal economics: the wealthiest Americans were some of the most likely to give extreme responses, whether very fulfilled or very unfulfilled.

2. Seventy million Americans feel held back by their past.

Overall, 70 million Americans (31% of adults) feel “held back or defined by something in their past.” This perception was most commonly expressed by younger adults, blacks, divorced adults, unmarried individuals, and those who have some college experience but never completed their degree. Those with a practicing faith were among the least likely to feel defined or held back by their past. Lower-income households were more likely than average (38%) to feel defined by their past, though 25% or higher-income households were also likely to share this perception.

3. Nearly 70 million Americans are dealing with emotional conflict

When asked if they are dealing with unresolved emotional pain or conflict in life, three out of 10 adults (30%) confirm this description is a present reality for them. This perception was most common among lower-income adults, divorcees, women, and those with no faith allegiance. Married adults, Elders, men, and practicing Christians were the least likely to be dealing with unresolved emotional conflict.

4. One-sixth of Americans are wrestling with the role of church and religion.

In total, 15% of Americans said their experiences with religion have caused them to question God, a sentiment that was most common among twenty-somethings, college graduates, unmarried adults, non-Christians, and unchurched adults. Similarly, 16% of Americans said they have been hurt by experiences in churches.

This perception was most common among women, Boomers (the generation born between 1946 and 1965), and divorced adults.

But perhaps Americans’ growing dissatisfaction with institutions is more influenced than they realize by their own personal expectations and experiences. While people are increasingly skeptical of external forces, like religion and government, the research shows that internal doubts about fulfillment, faith, emotion and personal history significantly define millions of the nation’s residents.

I. THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BIBLICAL MIND.

Paul has magnified great truths about rejoicing, graciousness or forbearance, not being anxious (how to deal with worry), a heart of thanksgiving, and the peace of God, which leads to a “peace of mind.”

“Finally, brethren, whatever things…” Paul indicates that he has arrived at the climax of his teaching on spiritual stability. The principles he will now list are the summation of all the others and the key to implementing them.

The two bookends of proper thinking are implementing truth and meditating on them (dwell on). This is not an option, but a command. It means to evaluate, to consider, or to calculate; speaks of spiritual disciplines

The Bible leaves no doubt that people’s lives are the product of their thoughts. The computer acronym GIGO (Garbage in- Garbage out). The computer’s output is dependent on the information that is input.

Mark 7:20-23, “And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.’"

PROBLEM IN OUR MODERN CHURCHES

Too many people go to church not to think or reason about the truths of Scripture, but to get their weekly high or feel better about themselves and their religious obligation; duty.

John Stott also warned of the danger of Christians living by their feelings, “Indeed, sin has more dangerous effects on our faculty of feeling than on our faculty of thinking, because our opinions are more easily checked and regulated by revealed truth than our experiences.”

Adrian Rogers, “The devil had rather get you to think wrong than to do wrong.”

A. BUILT ON TRUTH.

This refers to not only the Christians’ veracity but to every phase of his conduct. A reminder that belief affects behavior.

In John 17:17 Jesus said, “Your word is truth.”
Ps 19:9, “The judgments of the Lord are true.

Everything that is said concerning what our minds are to dwell on can be said of Jesus. He is “true, noble, just, pure…” All of the characteristics used are words that speak of the Scriptures: it is true, honorable, just (right), pure (James 3:17)

True speaks of that which is absolutely true. Walter Cavert reported a survey on worry that indicated that only 8% of the things people worried about were legitimate matters of concern. The other 92% were imaginary, never happened, or involved matters over which the people had not control anyway.

If the “peace of God” guards our thought life, then the “Word of God” guides our thought life.

When we think on that which is true as opposed to false (a lie) it allows us to be true to God, to others, and to oneself.

In Eph 6:14, Paul reminds us that part of the Christian armor that is literally used to hold all the others in place is “truth.”

When one thinks on things which are not true, it is not long before his/her life reflects the falsehoods they have endured with their mind.

B. BUILT ON HONOR. (“Noble”)

Honest, honorable things that claim respect. If it is true that we externalize our thoughts, then honorable people are the results of honorable thoughts; inviting reverence. This word carries the idea of serious as opposed to frivolous.

Used by Apostle Paul in 1 Tim 3 – reverence

This word is used as a characteristic of both the deacon and his wife in 1 Tim 3:8,11.

Used also in Titus 2:2 to refer to church leaders; a quality that makes them worthy of respect; dignity.

Remember, we are to “think” on those things. Believers must not think on what is trivial, temporal, mundane, common, and earthly; but rather on what is heavenly, and so worthy of awe, adoration, and praise. All that is true in God’s Word is honorable, noble. Speaks of that which has a service purpose. It’s things that build our self-respect. The word has actually been used to mean worship, revere. We are not to think on things that are dishonorable and permit them to control our thoughts.

When we think on what’s true and noble, we promote inner character.

C. BUILT ON DIVINE STANDARD. (“JUST”)

That which is right; just comes from the word where we get our word for righteous. It speaks of a person who faces his duty and does it. Speaks of right relationship and proper action. We ought to contemplate those things that cause us to be right with God and with each other.

It describes whatever is in perfect harmony with God’s eternal, unchanging standards as revealed in Scripture. Believers are to think on things that are consistent with His Word. In action this word suggests fair and equitable dealings with others. Conformable to God’s standard, thus worthy of His approval. Righteous as in the eyes of God; moral, upright, righteous.

To be “just” is to be a person that wants to do the right thing; not what’s convenient. Righteous in a comprehensive sense. (Integrity)

We are told at the end of v.8 to “think” on these things. (Meditate)

Kent Hughes, in “Disciplines of A Godly Man,” reminds us that this kind of thinking is a choice.

A.T. Robertson – present middle imperative; we are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high or lofty ideals.

Kent Hughes says:

“Each of Paul’s ingredients is explicitly positive. They all defy negative exposition. Each ingredient was, is, a matter of personal choice, and our choices make all the difference in the world. We all can choose a thought program which will produce a Christian mind. I have great sympathy for those whose past have been a series of bad choices. I understand that if over the years one has chosen the impure and the illusory and the negative, it is very difficult to change. But as a Biblical thinker I give no quarter to myself or anyone else who rationalizes his present choices by the past. Brothers, we are free to have a Christian mind. It is within our reach, and it is our duty.

As we consider how Paul’s program should affect our minds, the sheer weight of its positive demands a determined rejection of negative input: “Finally, brothers, whatever is untrue, whatever is ignoble, whatever is wrong, whatever is impure (unclean),, whatever is unlovely, whatever is not admirable, if there is anything shoddy or unworthy of praise, do not think about these things.”