Paul has written, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a list of things that we should meditate on.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
1. Whatever things are true.
In scripture we are encouraged to speak the truth in love. To be able to do this we first need to know the truth. Jesus said in John 14:6, ‘I am the Truth.’
The opposite of that which is true is that which is false or a lie.
Ephesians 4:25 says, ‘Put away lying…’ That is to say, put away that which is a lie, that which is false or opposes the true.
Satan is called the father of lies. He is also referred to as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). His very nature is that of being opposite to all that is holy, clean, pure, righteous, honest.
Jesus said of the Pharisees (the religious system), ‘you are of your father the devil.’ (John 8:44)
These religious people who lived by a law that they themselves had changed and tweaked to suit themselves throughout the ages were full on opposing Christ and everything He was doing and saying. These people were His main protagonists and as we know it was eventually the religious system of His day that crucified Him. As an aside, it will again be, in these last days, the religious system which we see so much evidence of all over the world, that will oppose the true Church as she stands up for the truth of the gospel.
Everything of all or any religious system opposes God and Jesus Christ. These men hated Christ and crucified Him, they were of their father the devil who opposes all that is true.
Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’
Ephesians 4:25 goes on to say, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour.‘
Ephesians 4:15, ‘Speak the truth in love.’
Zechariah 8:16-17 says, “These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbour: Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbour; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord.”
To do this we need to know the truth for ourselves.
‘Abide in the word, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’ John 8:31
Paul said meditate on that which is true. Meditate on Christ, on who He is.
2. Whatever things are noble.
The word ‘noble’ has in its meaning: that which is of exalted moral or mental character or excellence,- of an admirably high quality, notably superior, excellent.
Another word for noble is honourable; that which is worthy of respect.
Here we could speak of things such that are dignified, reverent, not crass, not trashy, not unclean or dirty, not disrespectful but full of excellence.
In Philippians 1 Paul says that he prays for the saints in Philippi, v9 ‘that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment (why?) v10, that you may approve the things that are excellent (so) that you may be sincere and without offence.’
Proverbs 8:1-7a says, ‘Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart. Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things; For my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.’
We could so easily fit the word honourable in here instead of excellent, ‘I will speak of honourable things..’
Honourable means worthy of honour and high respect, dignity and distinction.
Whenever I look at this I automatically think of the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is all of this and so much more.
Worship is to give reverent honour to God.
Whatever is worthy of worship is summed up as God the Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Paul is encouraging the believers in Philippi and us today to think on the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Whatever things are just.
We could easily insert the word ‘righteous’ here instead of ‘just’.
Abraham believed God and he was justified by faith and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
The just (righteous) shall live by faith. Romans 1:17
Romans 3:24-26 says, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
We are justified by faith.
Romans 4:9b says, “for we say that faith was accounted to Abraham as righteousness.”
Romans 5:1 says, “having been justified (made just) by faith”
Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
What is Righteousness?
I have read it summed up like this,
“The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behaviour and every word and thought.” (http://www.gotquestions.org/righteousness.html)
Man’s own righteousness is measured against the clear Holy Spirit inspired plumb line of God’s Word. There is nothing we can think, do or say of ourselves that can match up to the life of Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus Christ is itself the plumb line we are compared to.
The righteousness of God is the very life of Jesus Christ.
We must meditate on the life of Christ, He is the example we are to follow.
Deuteronomy 16:20 says, “You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
4. Whatever things are Pure.
We live in a day and age where to a large degree morality does not exist. Once upon a time society lived by moral standards that were based on the truths of the Bible. There is a flood of darkness pouring out over the earth like never before. All of the things spoken of in scripture that are foretold to happen in the last days leading up to the second coming of Christ are happening now right in front of our eyes.
Lets read what these scriptures say,
Romans 1: ” And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
2 Timothy 3:1-4 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,”
2 Peter 3:3 “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,”
Jude 1:17-18 “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.”
Jesus Himself foretold that in the last days lawlessness would abound and the love of many will grow cold.” Matt 24:12
The first thing to look at is the ‘Lawless’ issue. What is Lawlessness?
Daily we see more and more evidence worldwide of people ignoring the laws of the land they live in. Many on our roads no longer care about sticking to the rules. Many are now a law unto themselves.
The dictionary has this to say about the word ‘Lawless’.
-having no laws; not obeying the law, contrary to or without regard for the law, uncontrolled, unrestrained, unbridled, and unruly.
Lawless people are those who choose to live outside of the established boundaries or those who may even acknowledge boundaries but ignore them most of the time anyway.
Lawless people are unrestrained, out of control with no one or nothing to rein them in ie no boundaries. Anything goes, if it feels good do it, limitless promiscuity, pornography/sexual immorality etc etc.
These works of darkness are out of control all over the world at present and the situation is not getting any better. No matter how hard the law enforcement agencies work the flood of darkness continues to increase. The worlds legal systems cannot stop this flood of darkness. And let me say, this filth and darkness is rampant in the church also. Satan has infiltrated the church and so much of what is detailed in the Word of God as being ungodly and sinful is now accepted as normal in the church.
Man in general has chosen to discard and reject God and His Word and in so doing have thrown away the plumb line, the guide, the handbook telling us what to do, how to do it and when to do it.
God is Holy, Righteous, True and Pure.
We need to turn to Him and His Word, allow the Word by the Power of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, righteousness and judgement which in turn will lead us to repentance from sin and into a holy pure relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
5. Whatever things are lovely.
The dictionary sums up lovely as this;
whatever is sweet, gracious, generous or patient
beautiful, especially in a pleasing or charming way
delightful for beauty, harmony or grace
someone or something attractive
I like the last one, inspires love.
Again this can be so aptly summed up in one person, Jesus Christ. Lets look at what else scripture speaks about in relation to inspirational love. Song of Solomon is full of dialogue between the Groom and His Bride.
S of S 1:9, “I have compared you, my love, to my filly among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold.”
S of S 1:15 “Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove’s eyes.”
S of S 2:2 “Like a lily among thorns,So is my love among the daughters.”
S of S 2:8-14 “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes Leaping upon the mountains, Skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice. My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledoves heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away! “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.”
Song of Solomon speaks of the love affair between Christ and His Church. There is a deep growing relationship here between the Groom and His Bride. They speak of the love they have for each other.
May I say respectfully that Christ our Bridegroom is lovely, pleasing, someone who is attractive though not in a physical or sensual way. He is the One who first loved us even though we were yet sinners. He is the One who is altogether lovely.
6. Whatever things are of good report.
The ESV uses the word ‘commendable’. We could also use instead, ‘of good reputation’ or ‘reputable.’ When we consider what we read, what we look at or listen to on our smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV’s, or in magazines, when we consider what we feed our minds and hearts with via our eyes and ears, do we stop to think whether these things are of good report. Are they reputable? Would we recommend any of these things to our wives, husbands, sons, daughters or even to our pastors???
As this post is written primarily to Christians I put that same question to each of you. Would you recommend any of this ‘stuff’ that you are into to Jesus Himself? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to work in your life? If you say yes then there should be no hidden sin in your life.
Have you allowed the spotlight of the Holy Spirit to shine into every recess of your heart and soul to purge out all that is of darkness? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to lead you through your house to point out all the idols that should not be there? Is there still secret sin in your life? ‘Stuff’ that you are hiding from others?
Remember, God sees everything. God hears everything. Are you into what God calls ‘wholesome’?
As I have sat here and considered what I have been writing it becomes all the more clear to me that the relationship I have with my Saviour is the most important relationship I will ever have. There is nothing on this earth, nothing in the spiritual realm that can give me what Jesus Christ can give me. All of what I have been writing about can only come out of the relationship I have with God through Jesus Christ.
Jesus Himself said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Our focus needs to be Christ at all times. You may think to yourself, How is that possible? Well it is possible through Christ alone. Christ has made it possible for all of us to change the way we think. As we dig deeper and deeper into His Word and feed spiritually on what is contained therein we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
His Word will wash and regenerate our entire being. We will be able to say that our minds are set on things above. We will be able to say that we have the mind of Christ. This will be true because we have learnt to know His mind through His Word. As a man thinks in his heart (soul: mind, will and emotions) so is he. Proverbs 23:7
Now when I find myself in any situation will I go straight to my own way of seeing things, will I interpret it according to my thinking based on what the world has taught me, or the way I was trained by my parents and all those other influences that were upon my life as I grew up, up until I came to Christ or will I turn to the Lord and what His Word says?
Will my automatic response be, How would you have me to handle this Lord?, or What should I say here Lord?, or Lord the ways of Your Kingdom are the only way, please lead me and guide me according to the Life and principles of Your Kingdom, in the way of your Righteousness.
It is all about changing the way we think.