By Daniel E Woodhead Ph.D.
In order for us to effectively retain God’s Word and deflect Satan’s influence we must develop a mind screen. Satan will take every opportunity to remind us of past sins to prevent our spiritual growth or to stop us talking to others about making Godly choices. We must combat his attempts to thwart our sanctification by being alert to his activities. When those self-doubting thoughts enter our mind we must immediately say “No” to their attempt to take control of our well being. Once we learn to recognize them for what they are, we can change our thoughts by the Holy Spirit’s help to bring in thoughts that Paul provides for us in Philippians 4:8-9.
As we remove the inappropriate thoughts we must replace them with wholesome thoughts. When the bad gets ejected we have a spiritual vacuum within our minds waiting to be filled. This is where God’s mind screen comes into play. He has given us the formula to fill the vacuum. It is found in Philippians chapter four verse 8 which says,
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.
Carefully reading this verse we can see there is one strong verb. It is “think” on things. It does not say “feel” or “experience” or some such other less strong words. This is a command to cause us to consider, ponder, dwell as well meditate. When we “think” on the proper things we crowd out the Devil’s attacks. Furthermore this verb is a present tense indicating continuous action. In other words, “don’t give up!” Keep on thinking these good wholesome thoughts.
The Holy Spirit is commanding us to do this. We must remember that it is not simply Paul’s opinion that this renewed thought process would be helpful to us. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:16) so with God as the energizer for us, He knows that we can accomplish this. He is not going to give us a burden greater than what we can handle. With His help in giving us the appropriate categories of thoughts to rest our minds upon we can effectively screen out the unwholesome thoughts and preserve our mind’s purity. Some of these categories are narrow in scope, others led into another category, but each category describes an important characteristic to know.
We must not dwell on speculation or concepts that we know are false. Lies and false ideas corrupt our world-view and allow us to begin to embrace them as possibilities. This brings in doubt and complicates the pure truthful and logical world view God wants us to have. Some want to escape reality and live in a make believe world so they don’t have to deal with the difficult situations they face in life, however this causes the situation to worsen and then they cannot cope with it. Some people will do anything to avoid the reality they live with including escaping into excessive amounts of entertainment. When we fill our minds with an excessive amount of fiction we are building a world view that will not help us deal with our problems. Actually they do just the opposite as they sow the seeds of mental distress.
This concept refers to that which inspires respect. This is the opposite of being flippant and frivolous. We must not pursue those types of thoughts. Instead we must engage our minds in thoughts that are dignified, noble, serious and valuable. This does not preclude any fun. Our fun as Christians is not a desperate attempt to fill the Spiritual void unbelievers experience. We have seriousness of purpose and self-respect. Respect can only be earned, even for ourselves as we evaluate our own self worth. We are children of the living God and as such have great value to Him because He bought us with a huge price (I Corinthians 6:20, 7:23). As we realize this and continue to “think on these things” God lets us know how precious we are to Him. Realizing that we belong to Him as chosen children lets us think on the honorable concept of God’s love for us.
This word means just, upright, righteous and conforming to the principles of God’s Word. This means that we must look at things from God’s perspective. We regularly are hit with false philosophy through the media, teachers, friends and relatives. Most do not even realize that they are giving us false satanically driven information that is contrary to Scripture. Television and cinema now endorse extra marital affairs, homosexuality and abortion among other unbiblical activities. The present firearm debate following mass murders refuses to acknowledge that excessive violence and sinful activities portrayed in current movie and television fare has a direct effect on the perpetrators. Billions of dollars are spent annually on advertisements to affect the demand for products and services because the sellers realize that it works. When we fill our minds with things that are not right they become our influencers, and this includes ads that encourage purchasing visual media that promotes violence with weapons. Violent video games, television, movies and literature, including comic books, all fight against being accountable and responsible in our behavior.
Here Paul speaks to moral purity that is the absence in anything that stains, blemishes or corrupts us, particularly related to sexual matters. If you engage in, or think that it is okay to engage in premarital and extramarital sex, you are bringing the devil right into your mind to compete with the Holy Spirit. If you take in sexual visuals or read novels that embrace sex of any sort outside of a committed heterosexual marriage you are leading yourself into acceptance of these things. The more you fill your mind with these images, the more you will begin to hate your resultant spiritual state and will defer getting any real satisfaction in your live. As a Christian you will become riddled with guilt as you try to play act our your Christianity. You must drive these desires out by constant exposure to God’s Word and avoid any contact with the material that provides you with the impurity which harms your mind. When we are careless about what we put into our minds our children and loved ones see it as an endorsement for those things. Before you expose yourself to unwholesome things ask yourself, “Is it pure?”
This refers to that which is attractive, pleasing, winsome, amiable or agreeable. Some say it mostly refers to amiability. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14) so he can make the sinful seem lovely at first glance. Genuine loveliness represents pleasantness and graciousness, which fosters peace and harmony. When someone makes an inappropriate remark or increases strife and tension within us, we must forgive them so that we do not harbor disagreeable thoughts, which will upset us and take us off God’s desire for us to be at peace. If the individual continues to attack us or does not ask for forgiveness we do not need to stay in their presence and allow them to afflict us. Start thinking about things that inspire love and harmony. Test the thought by asking “Is it lovely or amiable?” If not, start thinking on lovely things.
This essentially means to be of good repute or to think and speak good things of other people. Do not gossip. If we know uncomplimentary things about others and dwell on them sooner or later we will begin to gossip. It is so easy to do and we must avoid it. Believer’s thoughts should be admirable and not gossipy or condescending. If we think on the bad stuff it will come out and others will know that we are not of good report.
This word rises above the mundane, transitory, or hollow things of this world. We must think on things that are associated with God’s glory and power, which have eternal value. We must rid ourselves of thoughts associated with status, power, wealth and material possessions. If we dwell on these things they begin to drive our behavior and it is not toward excellence. It will lead us to the mundane, away from the glory of God and a deepening relationship and knowledge of Him. If we fix our attention on an eternal perspective of anything it lets us escape Satan’s pitfalls.
This means to think on things, which have the praise of God. Since we have the mind of Christ available to us we can ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” This is a revealing question because it will let us know what the enemy is trying to do. His attack will be subtle so we should let Jesus in to our thoughts to change the enemy’s unpraiseworthy thought. Something is not praiseworthy unless it has God’s approval.
These characteristics present a formidable challenge to us. It can easily be handled if we stay in God’s Word and continue to grow in His grace and love. We can enjoy a healthy mind when we stay close to Him when we think on things that:
- Are true and real
- Are worthy of respect
- Are conforming to the principles of God’s Word
- Are morally pure
- Fosters peace and harmony
- Speaks well of others
- Rises above the mundane
- Brings praise from God