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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's in Your Mind

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
8 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.

We like to think we are blank tablets but we aren't. We have inherited our sinful nature. The Bible calls it our flesh and it must be disciplined. Changing our minds changes everything.

I have to make a decision before I can go on a diet. I have to decide to exercise to get in shape. I have to set time aside, read my Bible and pray if I want to have an effective daily time with God. I have to start with my mind.

Let's make a distinction between the mind and the brain. The brain is the information processor. It is the CPU of the human being. Some people have faster CPUs than others. Some people have defective CPUs. The CPU determines which software which can run effectively. The mind is the software loaded which enables the body to act. The autonomous nervous system makes our hearts beat, keeps our digestive system going and keeps us breathing. The brain reacts to stimuli like heat, cold. pain and pleasure. The mind decides what ultimately must be done.

It is the mind that decides to think positively. The flesh will naturally lead us to self-destruction. It will crave sleep, drugs, sex and all other forms of self-gratification. The disciplined mind denies the flesh's indulgences. The spiritually disciplined mind thinks so differently that reactions to the world are modified by this thinking.

Imagine that you decide to think on all that is true. While you are thinking about whatever is true you are asked by your boss to answer a customer's question vaguely so as to lead him to a wrong conclusion. Instead of simply denying your bosses request, you point out how dishonesty can never be the right policy for business. You say something like, "It's not that we won't get the sale but we are assured we won't get the resale and we have destroyed our reputation with that customer and all the other potential customers he tells." You have been true in two areas. You have not misled the customer and you have stated what the boss already knows is true but didn't think that way because he had not predetermined to think on whatever was true.

The same thing goes for whatever is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. Setting our minds on these things would result in decisions which would lead us to these things. We wouldn't act like fools when someone cut us off in traffic. We wouldn't do shoddy jobs which do not reflect our best. We wouldn't waste time for our lives would not simply think about commendable things, we would live commendable lives.

Years ago I memorized the fruit of the Spirit so that I could check myself in whether I was acting in the flesh or in the spirit. Now I must also memorize this verse to begin my day. I set my mind on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is commendable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, whatever is excellent and worthy of praise.

I know it will change every day that I set my mind on them.


Anthony Chia said...

I believe the correct way to view this Phil 4:8 verse is that it is also a commandment, NOT a “nice to have”, it is a “must have”. The Greek word for the thinking about (or KJ version, thinking on), is the word, G3049 – logizomai. This word is variedly translated in Scripture to a number of English words such as impute, count, reckon, regard, consider, think, and meditate. The word is the verb, therefore, what is being thought about, is what we can say as the logic (that which “justify”) of one’s decision or action; and it is from it, we have the English word, logic. That verse, therefore, gives us one set of logic as to why we do what we do, or simply the logic of the believer’s conduct.

In other words, if we did NOT hear directly from God, like, “My son, Anthony, I want you to ask the woman ministee if you could touch the base of her neck where it hurts, and pray for her”, we just do nothing, and wait there in the sanctuary front, all day long, in the middle of a church service?! No; when we do NOT get a rhema word of God, what do we do? We are to be guided by logic, but NOT worldly logic but godly logic. And the godly logic was given there, in Phil 4:8.

In other words, we have the reason for our actions. It is NOT right, if we did NOT hear directly, from God for action that we done (and frequently, we don’t), to say or imply God has told us to do what we have done. Often, it is that we did this or that, because it fell under the purview of the list in Phil 4:8, as is understood against the overall counsel of the Word. So, for example, I did that, because it was the honourable thing to do, and so, I would say “I did it because it was the honourable thing to do,” and I should NOT say, “God told me to do that”. When one said that God said to him to do it, what can I or we, say?!

This brings me to this common but nagging issue of whether or NOT we must hear from God directly before we do something. Of course, one common suggestion is, “big thing, better hear from God directly”. Implicitly, small things - don’t bother; but what is big and what is small? It is relative, is it NOT? And many people have problem with relativity of this kind – when is big, when is small? Should I go to church service? Big or small? Is it right for you take the attitude that you have to wait until you hear from God, otherwise you would NOT move (you mean you are NOT going, to church service)? I would NOT be surprised I will NOT see you in church services! Because you are NOT going to hear from God! Or you are on the mass rapid train (MRT, in Singapore),and a pregnant woman boards the train; are you going give your seat to the woman, or are you going to say, “I will ask God if I should give up my seat”! Please, you just give up your seat because it is the honourable thing to do; it is the commendable thing to do; it is the lovely thing to do; it is the praiseworthy thing to do; and it is the excellent thing to do.

You laugh, that it is so obvious (these examples). Now, you don’t laugh, even I struggle at times; for what is obvious to one is NOT necessarily obvious to another. You “turn the heat up” a little, and you can see if the response is the same or NOT. How about this: Should you join one of the many ministries in church and serve, give of your time and talent? No, why? Yes, why?


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

“But Brother Anthony, you tell God to talk to me directly, then I do-lo! We are taught-what, to hear from God, and to be led by the Spirit-what. I don’t hear, and I don’t feel led-what, so I don’t do-lah. Furthermore, there is this verse in Scripture saying that we have the mind of Christ-what; if I am to do, I will know-right!” How does pastor teach on “we have the mind of Christ”? Obviously, if the preaching is so “only God’s part, none man’s part”, like you are having Christ’s mind in you; He thinks, you know; like you are the Holy Spirit who knows the mind of God instantaneously, maybe I should worship you instead, and talk to you instead, instead of going to God! If “we have the mind of Christ” is like that, obviously the apostle Paul would be guilty of talking about rubbish in this Phil 4:8, for scripture, like this one, cannot be there, in Scripture, to tell Christ what to do. What is true is that there is NOT anyone fully grown, NOT anyone perfect, yet (no one is), and there is a part, we, men, have to play (or do), and there is a part God knows it is His to do. This, if you think about it, is touched on, by the Phil 4:8, too, for it covered, “Whatever is true, think about or on, it”. However, the attitude of many is this: No time for such thinking about or on.

Where is the godly logic? With God, this is of course. We can also say, it is also with the Lord, and with the Holy Spirit, but it is also there, in the “manufacturer handbook”, the Scripture. And fuller abiding in such logic of the Word, we can have, if we work with the Holy Spirit in our sanctification, starting with, applying what are obvious to us. We need to know the logic, understand the logic, and apply them in our lives, for at the end of the day, we need to give an account; God would consider (logizomai) your life?

As to issue of what is the mind as in, is it the intellect or is it got to do with more than that, reaching deeper, to heart of the soul, I have my thoughts, but it is too lengthy to expound it here. In brief, I would say, we need to go deeper than just the “head level”. Matt 15:19 has this: “For out of the HEART come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

The Greek word from which the English word, “thoughts” in this Matthew verse, is the similar word, G1261 – dialogismos, which is “a thought, inward reasoning”. I believe there is the bodily “level” (or head “level”), and there is the soulish “level”. Inward transformation has to hit the soulish level.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions