Did you know that your brain has stored more information than is in the entire library of congress with all its 17 million volumes? That is pretty amazing for a little machine inside your head that only weighs about 3 pounds.
Psychologists tell us that each person has about ten thousand thoughts per day.
I find that an encouragement. You see that means you have at least a one in ten thousand chance of having a good thought every day.
Much of the whole thought process remains a mystery to scientists and psychologists. But one thing is not a mystery about the mind. How you think is going to affect your Christian life. How you think will make a profound difference in how you represent our Lord Jesus Christ.
You know in the hospital before a surgeon is about to do surgery he is going to scrub his hands over and over. Why? Because no one wants that surgery performed until the surgeon’s hands are clean. As Christians we have a ministry to perform. And just like the surgeon who needs clean hands for surgery we need to have clean minds.
In these verses Paul emphasizes the need for a good thought life. The Christian life is more than just the external. It is more than a list of rules, obeying the dos and refraining from the don’ts. The Christian life is is something internal and that is more challenging than obeying a set of rules.
Christianity is about the internal and about your thought life. We must transform our thought life. You may need a revival of the mind. The Bible speaks about this kind of transformation in your life. It will transform your Christian life if you can keep your thoughts on things that are pleasing to God.
When someone commits a sin it is most likely a manifestation of what has already taken place in their mind. Do you remember when that little shepherd boy, David took a smooth stone and put it in a sling and embedded it in the head of the giant Goliath? After that giant fell David became known throughout the land and people were singing a song and the refrain went, Saul has killed his thousands but, David his ten thousands.
Well Saul began to think about that and the jealousy brewed inside of his mind. Before long Saul was hurling a spear to kill David. Why? Because it began in the thought life.
Even king David himself had his famous sin with Bathsheba. Where did it begin? It began in the thought life. If we really want to transform the Christianity in the church then we need to transform our mind. There needs to be a revival of the mind.
The first thing Paul does in these verses is to tell us to put our mind on good things. Look at verse 8 He says, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy –think about such things.
Paul gives us all these characteristics to put our mind on. The human mind is going to set itself on something. The question is on what? Paul says he that wants our minds to be on the things that are honoring and pleasing to God.
The Christian mind does not belong in the gutter. No, Paul says the Christian mind should be on thoughts that are worthy to be taken before the Lord our God. On thoughts that are praiseworthy and excellent. Paul calls the Christian to have thoughts that are high and lofty thoughts.
How you think is so important. It is important because how you think forms your character. A sure way to experience renewal is to have your thoughts on things that are worthy of praise. That is how a revival of your mind begins.
Listen to what Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We need not conform to the world. We must be transformed. Our thought life must be different. The best way is to keep the bad thoughts out of your mind is to concentrate on the good thoughts.
Paul does not simply say from now on I want you to no longer think of any bad thoughts. He instead goes the positive route. He says I want you to think on good thoughts. Try an experiment now. Just for a moment picture in your mind a rhinoceros on the plains of Africa. Picture this in your mind. Do you see that rhinoceros there?
Now stop thinking about that rhinoceros. No longer have any thoughts of the rhinoceros in your mind. You might find that difficult. You just can’t stop thinking about something. If you want to stop thinking about something you should redirect your thoughts somewhere else. If you picture a giraffe in your mind you will no longer be thinking about the rhinoceros.
That is the kind of help Paul is giving us. He does not just say stop thinking your bad thoughts that are dragging you down in your Christian life, but let your mind be on exalted thoughts worthy of praise. Think on the things that are good and honorable. That is the positive way Paul gives us to keep our minds right before God.
Saint Jerome said he struggled with the thoughts that were in his mind. He said the one thing that really helped his thought life was translating the Hebrew Bible into Latin. Now you may try that yourself at home, but it really is not practical for the overwhelming majority of us.
So how do we find a practical way to keep our mind on thoughts that please God? We need to do it by keeping our mind on the thoughts as we read them in this verse. Paul gives us eight virtues to keep our mind on. As the New English version says, fill your thoughts with these things. These kinds of thoughts are where we must direct those ten thousand thoughts a day that we have. We should have our thoughts on the things that honor God.
Each of us has our own battle to fight. The battle for the mind is to have a mind that is pure and honorable before our Lord. How do we do this? Do we lock ourselves in a monastery and shut ourselves off from everything in the world?
If we did that we would be ignoring so much other admonition in scripture and the goal to reach other people for Christ. We have this dilemma. We must be out there where all these bad influences on our mind are found. We must because if we are going to have an influence for Christ we must be out where the people are. Yet when we are out where the people are so many things there are not pleasing to Christ.
I like the way Larry Poland who is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Mastermedia International http://www.mastermediaintl.org/ puts it. He gives us a balance. He is in an area of ministry to Hollywood with people who make the television productions. His ministry is influencing them for Christ. He knows that Christians are not going to turn off their TVs so he came up with a positive way to keep your mind on thoughts pleasing to God.
In His ministry to people in Hollywood he said every time you are watching television and you see something that goes against your Christian values he said pray for those who are producing that. Pray for your own mind and for those who will be influenced by that program. Imagine if you did that every time you were watching a show. The time Christians spend watching television may be turned into a gigantic prayer session.
I think we could apply this to almost any area of life. Whenever we are out where the people are and whenever something comes before us that will take us away from Christ then we can stop at that moment and pray for that influence. We can right then and there pray for our own mind and for others who will be effected by what also caused us to have thoughts not pleasing to God.
There is another thing we can do to experience this revival of the mind. We can keep our mind on God’s Word. Psalm 1 says, blessed is the man who delights in God’s law he meditates on it day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water. Whatever he does prospers.
Keeping our mind on scripture means our minds are on things that are praiseworthy. We need to memorize scripture so that when those times come when our minds are dragged away from things pleasing to God we can focus on the scripture we have in our minds.
How did Jesus face Satan in the wilderness? What was his weapon to keep from being dragged away? How did he withstand letting his mind be dragged away from things pleasing to God? He used scripture. Jesus quoted the scripture he had memorized. If we want to keep our minds pure we are going to need to memorize scripture.
Paul talks about our minds as the battleground for spiritual warfare. He said in 2 Corinthians 10:5, We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Could you imagine if we took every thought captive? If we take the ten thousand thoughts a day figure then for every one hundred Christians there are one million thoughts in one day to take captive for Christ. If that happened we would not only have a revival of our own mind, but there would be a corporate revival as well. Take every thought and make it captive and obedient to Christ.
When you put your mind on things pleasing to God you are waging a battle against the unseen enemy. It is spiritual warfare. Keeping your mind on the pure thoughts will make the difference in you becoming more like Christ.
Paul not only calls for a revival of the mind, but he moves from the thoughts of the mind into action. He says in verse 9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice.”
Take those thoughts captive for Christ, but don’t just let them stay as thoughts, put them into practice. Paul had been an example before the Christians at Philippi. They had seen his life and the way he preached and how his life was consistent with his message. Now Paul says what you have seen of me put it into practice.
One good deed is worth more than one thousand good intensions. It won’t do to have a good Christian life only in our thoughts, but it must impact our actions too. We must have a pure thought life yes, but we are called beyond that into right actions.
Paul uses his own life as an example. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. Paul followed the example of Jesus and he is calling others to follow his example of following Christ.
If teachers want their students to learn something they have their students put the lesson into action. We must do more than meditating on scripture. It means putting the Word of God into practice in our lives. The Bible calls us to take our thoughts captive for God’s honor and to put those thoughts into actions.
What is the result of having thoughts that honor God? Paul tells us; The God of Peace will be with you. The result of a pure mind is that you will have the presence of God. The God of peace will be with you.