Thinking Godly

by Mike Ratliff

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians (4:8 ESV)

Philippians 4:8 is one of the most profound statements in the New Testament. This is part of the Apostle Paul’s closing statements to the church at Philippi. His epistle to the Philippians is a wonderful letter, full of encouragement and deep spiritual truth about how to live this Christian life no matter what fiery trials we are going through. In chapter 4 v8 we come upon this profound statement and we stop. We ask if this is even possible for us. How can we do this since we must live in this life in which we are pulled in every direction and so must find the time for such things. Perhaps a deeper look at the underlying Greek would help.

Here is v8 from the Greek New Testament:

Τὸ λοιπόν, ἀδελφοί, ὅσα ἐστὶν ἀληθῆ, ὅσα σεμνά, ὅσα δίκαια, ὅσα ἁγνά, ὅσα προσφιλῆ, ὅσα εὔφημα, εἴ τις ἀρετὴ καὶ εἴ τις ἔπαινος, ταῦτα λογίζεσθε·

The way Paul structured this sentence, we need to look a the end for our verb, λογίζεσθε· or logizesthe, which is the plural, present tense, imperative mood, middle voice form of λογίζομαι or logizomai, which means to put together with one’s mind, to count, to occupy oneself with reckonings or calculations. In the New Testament, it is used to instruct believers to become oriented to the facts established by God, with the result that it now becomes the term for the judgment of faith. In other words, all our thinking, pondering, and questioning are put into the context of God’s standards. The present indicative middle verb structure is talking about continuous or repeated action so this is a command to live a certain way. In other words, Paul is telling us, all Christians, to live our lives as Christians to think a certain way “continually” or as a way of life. What way?

First, we should think about the things that are true “ἀδελφοι”. This means that we think about things as they really are, not as they are concealed, falsified, or misrepresented. I saw a commercial yesterday after the wedding. There were seven adults and my grandson who is almost 2 years old. It was a Latino Restaurant and the sound on the big screen TV, which was tuned to Fox News was muted. The commercial was about statistics about how many people starve to death everyday in the world, how many die in the world because of the illegal drug trade and how many people volunteer in their communities. Then it showed how all the religions of the world were coming together as one to coexist and solve these problems by countries giving up their sovereignty even though they never really came out and said that, you could tell that that was the necessary ingredient in what they were selling. I was the only one the table who was watching. I think I was the only one in the restaurant who was watching. I applied God’s truth to this and saw immediately that my peace and joy are not bound up in the efforts of men and the false peace that could come from this “globalization” of everything they are talking about. I also saw that most people aren’t even paying attention as this stuff is going on all around them.

Second, we are to think about things that are honorable “σεμνα”. This could also be translated as “honest” or “grave.” This is focusing on things that are solemn, dignified, sublime, and majestic instead of the foolish and the fleshly.

Third, we are to think about the things that are just “δίκαια”. This is describing what is upright and righteous. Believers should think righteous thoughts. They should, in their mind, gratefully meditate on God’s righteous acts, appreciate righteousness in others, and should plan righteous words and deeds.

Fourth , we are to think about the things that are pure “ἁγνα”. These are things that are morally, and even doctrinally, holy and chaste. Think of the books, movies, video games and tv shows that you use as “entertainment.”

Fifth, we are to think about things that are lovely “προσφιλη”. The Christian’s mind is to be set on things that elicit from others admiration and affection. We are to think and do things that will endear us to others, things that not only will express love to others but also inspire love from others. William Tyndale captured the thought in his 1534 translation of this passage with, “whatsoever things pertain to love.” So, how do we do this? We know we cannot do this if we are liars or thieves or gossips or are continually attacking others maliciously, et cetera. No, we will do this if we exhibit Christ’s character and the only way we can do that is to think about such things first.

The sixth and final thing we are instructed to think about is whatever is commendable “εὔφημα”. Many of us struggle here. I grew up with some who believed in the dogma of the “Power of Positive Thinking.” While I still reject much of that, we cannot go the opposite way either. We should think and talk about thing that are worth thinking and talking about, things that are appealing. We should think and talk about things that are likely to win others over instead of offending them. I am not talking about avoiding polemics here, because I do believe in apologetics and we must stand firm at times, but there are times when we must exhibit the Love of Christ as well. We don’t avoid the truth nor do we cave into the the political correctness nonsense. We should think and talk about things that are positive and constructive rather than negative and destructive. Dwelling on past sin falls into this category. As Christians whose sins are under the blood, we should get past this. Yes, sin should grieve us, and our desire for victory over it, but it should not depress us and rob us of joy.

Is it even possible for us to do this? Paul thought so.

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9 ESV)

ἃ καὶ ἐμάθετε καὶ παρελάβετε καὶ ἠκούσατε καὶ εἴδετε ἐν ἐμοί, ταῦτα πράσσετε· καὶ ὁ Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης ἔσται μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν.

The verb here, “ πράσσετε·,“ simply means “DO” or “PRACTICE.” It is in present tense, imperative mood, and active voice and that means we are being commanded to think on these things and do them as a way of life. What is the promise if we do? The peace of God will be with us. Think on this with me my brethren. If we do not do this then will the peace of God be with us?

Soli Deo Gloria!

14 thoughts on “Thinking Godly

  1. Great post, Mike!
    And a great reminder that we can obey and trust in the Lord, even in the current state of our country and world.
    What a Blessing to have a list of proper things to think on.
    I really get it when you mention the TV shows, etc., that people can see. When I happened to see a snatch of one somewhere, it made me feel like a voyeur! It is also a Blessing to have no desire to watch TV, bad movies, etc. at all!

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  2. Thanks Kathy, yep, you described it. I watched that commercial and it was as if I was outside looking in. No one was even paying attention and all that JUNK was being poured into them and they didn’t even know it. I have been studying this passage for several days so it was fresh on my mind as I thought through it.

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  3. Dear Mike,

    When God first opened my eyes to the falling away (in 2008) I was distraught. My first thought was how do I innoculate my precious young children from this seeming epidemic of false teaching and eastern spirituality etc. etc. etc.
    Well, the answer is “I” can’t. The mystery of lawlessness was already at work back in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 and will continue until Christ returns. We are helpless to “keep” ourselves or our loved ones.
    But the GOOD news is that by His grace, God calls us His own children and comforts us with “…’I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU, so that we confidently say, ‘THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” Hebrews 13:5&6
    If I do not understand that it is God who saved me, and God who sustains me, and ONLY God who can keep me, then I don’t understand much about my all sufficient Savior.

    But to return to your wonderful post if we LOVE Him we will keep His commandments and we need to teach our children to love the Lord with all their heart so that they do not want to watch things that are displeasing to the Lord and filter their song lyrics and their video games and bring every thought to the obedience of Christ. The only way this will happen is if our children witness us living this way in a crooked and perverse generation. May God strengthen us in Christ and give us the wisdom and love we need for such a time as this.
    In the gracious lovingkindness of Christ, Charisse

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  4. Thanks Mike for teaching this passage. Often in our zeal for proclaiming the Truth of the gospel to the world and to the apostatizing we have often

    1. Moved to religiousity. Foresaken our first love in Christ Jesus, and move to cold-hearted self-righteousness.

    2. Been subject to satanic attack of discouragement such as his uses of some of our fleshy concerns, and his wanting us to dwell on/be haunted by our past confessed sins which God had already forgiven in our seeking of forgiveness from Him.

    I find that the more you rely on the Holy Spirit (not out of your own flesh) to live according to the Lord’s will, the more intense these satanic attacks/temptation becomes more intense.

    Lord, we thank you that you have given us a new heart indwelled by Your Spirit in us, and we are able to do good works as a result of relying on Your Spirit in us. This is not of our own works so that no one may boast. Help us not to be tempted by Satan’s plots to discourage us through our past sins which we had confessed to You and already forgiven by You, and help us not to succumb to Satan’s plot of relying on only our own flesh only in doing Your work. Grant us that may we never foresake our first love in Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Praying in His Name, Amen.

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  5. Hi Mike. This is a very relevant verse for me. I am conflicted about tv and films. Lets face it,all of it conflicts with the passage above. It is yet another thing the holy spirit is working out in me at the moment. Thankyou for posting this, even as I sit here thinking on it, God is working new things in me : )
    Here in the uk it is Monday morning already, I’m not sure how the time difference works, but I am thinking and praying for you returning to the work place today.
    In Christ
    Fiona

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  6. Hi Mike
    This was so good to read and so uplifting!!!

    I so enjoy your going to the the Greek which allows us to ‘chew’ on what is being said – it never fails to excite my whole being. I too feel like I am ‘watching in” on life at times and sometimes it is when listening to conversations around me talking about God.

    This morning on FaceBook, I came upon a video posted about Yoga where the question was asked of both John MacArthur and Doug Pagitt if such a thing called Christian Yoga was possible? John MacArthur’s answer was totally Biblical and Doug Pagitt’s was as expected. He explained that people are using Yoga to get to a whole, complete and healed life and using any practices they can find to help them achieve this. He speaks about the ‘Jesus Agenda’ being a whole life and a complete life, which is what it is all about and they are looking for any practices which will bring that about, thereby helping in relationships , relieving stress and to feel good, he went on to say that that’s a really good thing….

    We are still very much with “Jesus + something” to bring about a fulfilled Christian life…..

    To bring it back to your posting here, he then went on to use Phil 4:8 as a ‘great little verse in the New Testament’ to explain this whole approach, as it is Yoga that has been such a positive thing in their lives…..

    Having listened to this drivel then coming to your blog and drinking from the oasis you so readily provide from the Lord on exactly the same verse, is it any wonder we at times feel like we are from another planet????!!

    When all Biblical based norms around us are screaming because they are being slowly ‘killed off’ we can know with utter confidence in Jesus that we can, Colossians 3-
    1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory

    … and then Romans 12:2
    And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

    and the warning here in Colossians 2:8
    “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

    Put these together with your Philippians 4:8 and it pretty much equips us with the most basic of means of following Jesus His way.

    Bless you brother
    Steph
    😀

    (URL to the You Tube of this video if any are interested) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0GFuVgNlYY&feature=player_embedded

    Mike you are welcome to delete the link should you so wish. 😀

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  7. Hi Mike,
    I agree number 6 is can be a dificult one. In my desire for my friends and family to quit following the false teachings of false teachers, I have to be careful in how I present things to them. It is easy to fall into a more negative and impatient attitude instead of placing ourselves in their shoes and taking great care with our words that they are not even a little bit insulting or condescending, but are kind.
    Have a good day and God bless you.

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