May 3, 2009
The last of this section is vv. 8, 9.
Finally, brethren... Paul concludes his final contact with this church. These are his last words to this group of believers whom he dearly loves in the Lord.
He now shares with them his key to having the peace of God though he is waiting to have his head cut off.
Shall keep your hearts. V. 7. The heart defined as Paul used it here:
The physical heart is the seat of physical life. Likewise, the word "heart" denotes the center of all life, including spiritual life.
Heart includes everything that controls the individual. Christianity is a new heart, new desires, new love, new attitudes, new motives and, as we see here, NEW THOUGHTS. One reason Islam is growing so fast is that it is a purely outward religion. It has a few set outward rules, and if those are kept, the individual is a good follower of Mohammed.
V. 8 is probably the difficult command in the Word of God.
1. In the context of v. 8 is vv. 6, 7. The peace of v. 7 is based upon making our requests known to God, so that we will now worry.
2. The heart is where the rebellion against God and His law is seated.
3. As we saw in chapter 3:3, the requirement of God is for a circumcised heart. This has always been the true circumcision, and God's standard of judgment.
4. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. In this we see that the battle is for the heart. The uncontrolled heart is an uncontrolled person. The controlled heart is a controlled individual. Our enemy knows that control starts in the heart, and he uses every means at his disposal to win the heart.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
If we even begin to think that our battle can be won without bringing the mind under control to the law of God, we have lost the battle. It will be just a matter of time before our actions are out of control also.
The tactics of the enemy have been revealed by the light of the Scriptures. The warfare is for the control of the heart.
Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
Everywhere we look, we see and hear things contrary to v. 8 that seek to control our hear, for that is where our destruction starts. The decision is ours as to who will be in control of this area us, the enemy of our souls, or the law of God. Even if we say that we want to control this area, than we have denied the Lord in this area.
Therefore, one reason this area is so important and hard to conquer is because this is the basic battle ground. If the battle for control of this area is lost, it is just a matter of time until the rest is lost.
5. A fifth reason the heart is so hard to control... No one knows what is in the heart except the Lord. It is so deceitful that not even we can know it.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the LORD search the
heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his
ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
V. 8, Paul's list.
First though, let me point out that all of these things are to be taken together.
1) Whatsoever things are true.. The opposite of false, and includes every area of life and action.
True in our relationships with others;
True in our words and actions.
True in the impressions that we give to others.
True to our profession of Christ in every area.
There seems to be an idea today that if something is true, then it is alright to talk about it, or even make a "documentary" about it.
Just because a movie might be a true documentary does not mean that it can be watched.
Eph. 5:11, 12 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Paul clearly says here that those things that are done in secret by the ones who are afraid of the light, are not to be looked into by those who have no business in it.
Almost 20 years ago, I read in the Indianapolis Star (6/19/90) that of 55 prostitutes who were arrested in Hollywood CA, only 13 were female. Now, when someone does a documentary on this, the word of God forbids watching it.
Christ, the Word of God is truth.
Psalms 15:2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
2) whatsoever things are honest... The word means honorable, reputable, that which is worthy of the gospel of Christ. Commonly used as grave, dignified.
Thus, the word not only includes honesty in all of our dealings with others, business and otherwise, it also requires having all of our actions worthy of honor, respect and of good reputation.
Paul tells us here that every Christian is covered by the requirement to be grave, honest, dignified.
2 Corinthians 8:21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
3) whatsoever things are just.. Giving to everyone what is due to him according to God's word. God's law is our system of justice, not only for the individual, but for all of society. Christianity does not exempt anyone from the law of God, which is His law of justice. Just the opposite being a child of God makes the law of God far more binding.
We need to remember that society around us expects Christians to abide by God's standard of justice, even though they do not. In fact, the ungodly take advantage of those who try to be just in their dealings with others.
Deuteronomy 16:20 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
4) whatsoever things are pure... Undefiled, Chaste. 1 Timothy 5:2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Purity in our thoughts toward members of the opposite sex, purity in our words, purity in our actions. The meaning is obvious.
Just in my short time on this earth, the change of purity in women, and men, has been astounding. When I was in school in the 50s, girls would not even consider wearing anything but skirts and dresses that came at least to their knees. Now, they have no shame in showing as much skin as possible.
The runner-up in the Miss America pageant, Carrie Prejean, sees no double standard though she stood almost naked before the flesh judges yet professes to be a Christian.
"It's not about being politically correct. For me it was
being biblically correct."
Miss California, Carrie Prejean, on the controversy over her statement in opposition to gay marriage in response to a question during the Miss USA pageant. (World, May 9, 2009, p. 17.)
Biblically correct... What can she say to the fact that she is told to dress modestly by God's word, 1 Timothy 2:9? She is now making the Christian talk show circuit, as they exalt her Christianity. Is she not telling Christian women it is OK to shed your clothing, as long as you do it in the name of Christ?
Psalms 119:1 ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who
walk in the law of the LORD.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
5) whatsoever things are lovely... That which is pleasant, agreeable, likeable. Christians can be firm in their disagreement without being disagreeable. As long as there are individuals in the world, there will be individual opinions and disagreements in those opinions. Even in these disagreements, we must always keep a Christ like spirit.
I knew an evangelist who was traveling the country saying some things that probably need to be said. The problem was that he is so disagreeable in his saying them that I could hardly stand to listen to him.
Lovely speaks against being sour, crabby, irritable and fault finding. It speaks for being pleasing and winsome, yet without compromise. A Christian should be even tempered, and lovely, at all times.
Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
1 Corinthians 13 fits here.
6) whatsoever things are of good report... There are Christian virtues that fit in wherever we might find ourselves in time and space. These virtues are commendable for the saved and the unsaved alike; they fit for the 1800's as well as for the 1900's and 2000s; they fit in the USA or in SPAIN.
We should work at keeping a good name for the honor of Christ, not for our own.
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
7) If there be any virture... That is, moral excellence. The Christian virtues, which are good for both saved and unsaved, which would cause others to think good of us, and are identified as a good report. Virtue is made up of common courtesies such as:
Courtesy, kindness, respect for parents and authority of all kinds, purity between family members (brothers and sisters), patience, understanding.
Though we do not have to agree with everyone, we must be agreeable with them, so they will have a good report toward us.
This certainly can be carried too far. My first wife's mother taught her that no matter what you had to do or say, the most important thing in the world was that others think well of you. It drove Carol crazy, and forced her to stay hidden in the house out of fear that someone would feel or speak ill of her. Of course, this did not show up until after we were married, and the Lord moved me into the ministry.
if there be any virtue.. Paul did not give a full list of Christian virtues, so he adds to the list anything else that might be virtuous for a Christian. Any virtue that would set a good example for Christ is to be cultivated.
2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
8) if there be any praise.. Whatever is worthy of Christian praise is to be worked on. These virtues should be placed in our lives, and if praise is due for others in these areas, we need to give the praise.
We need to have a balance. We either praise too much, praise the wrong thing, or do not praise enough. We should ask the Lord to show us His balance here.
We saw that Paul praised the Philippians for their Christian virtue. However, we are warned,
John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Think on these things.
He does not say, YOU WILL BE BETTER OFF IF YOU THINK ON THESE THINGS, or I ADVISE YOU TO THINK ON THESE THINGS, or IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA.
This is not a request by the Lord, but it is a command.
Think on these things. We need to meditate on these things as we read our Bible so the Spirit can show us where we are lacking in these areas.
Think on these things. We need to meditate on these things as we go about our daily activities. How can we apply or where do we need to apply these things in our relationships with ourselves and with others?
Think on these things. As we do this, they will become part of our innermost being, part of our personality. God built in us a certain temperament and it appears that opposites are attracted to each other. But there are a great many things about us that can be changed, and in fact, are required to be changed. 90% of the excuses of THAT IS JUST THE WAY I AM is just that, an excuse for not bringing our mind and passions under control.
Sadly, I have a bad case of "Hoof in mouth disease." Probably in the 6th grade, I was given a very large sucker. Underneath the cellophane wrapper was a note, "Be Sure Brain is Engaged before putting mouth in gear."
Think on these things. Do we desire to please God? The thought-life is one of the required areas that is to be brought under control to His word.
The peace of God can reign if we will follow his instructions as given through Paul.
V.9. Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do. Paul leaves no area of instruction uncovered. Not only does he remind them of what they have heard him say, but also what they have seen him do. He encourages them to follow him is all of these areas.
As we read back over the teachings of Paul, such as is in v. 8, we say, SURE, I SEE NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I AM WILLING TO FOLLOW HIM IN WHAT HE SAID THERE.
It is easy and convenient to forget from where he is writing. Paul was a representative of the kingdom of God on earth, and he is in prison for his stand for that kingdom. He is urging them to follow in his steps. All they have to do is look at the postmark on his letter, and they would be reminded of the results of following in his steps.
To the human mind, he is not in a good position to say, Follow me.
The obvious result if these people obeyed v. 9 was not going to be peace with the men of this world. It was going to be a warfare, hardship, persecution, jail and maybe even death. Many folks, as they consider the teachings of Paul, kind of overlook this obvious fact about his message here, and from where it was written.
If they followed the path in which Paul led, as mentioned in v.8, they were going to have war with sinful men, yet it resulted in peace with God. Many times this verse is understood to mean that if we obey the instructions as given by Paul, we will have peace with men. That is not at all what is even implied here. In fact, Paul says just the opposite to Timothy, 2 Tim. 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
The God of peace here is not to be confused with peace with men:
PRO 28:4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
And Paul contended with the wicked. He stood against their lies and false accusations, and it cost him his life. We are not seeing much godly contending with the wicked today, and the results are all around us.
Very few professed Western Styled Christians would follow him today, if they were assured of the same results. But death for one's faith is quite common in Mohammedan countries.
Taliban executes 2 Christians Believers were protesting demand they accept Islam
Taliban Islamic radicals have attacked a community of Christians, executing two of them following a rally that protested Muslim graffiti in their neighborhood that ordered them to accept Islam or die, according to an international Christian organization. ...
ICC (International Christian Concern) said it got reports that Taliban militants went door to door, breaking into Christian homes pillaged money and jewelry, abused the women, dragging the elderly and the women out into the street by their hair, and burned their property. The elderly were injured and one child fell to the ground and died.
"The Taliban leaders shouted, 'You infidels have to convert to Islam or die. Why did you wash up warnings inscribed on walls of church and home doors? How dare you to take out procession against Taliban?'"
The terrorists used clubs, iron rods and whips in their attacks, and set homes on fire, ICC said.
"When two Christians resisted, the militants killed them execution-style directly in front of their families. The identity of those killed has not yet been confirmed," ICC said. ...
ICCs web site has numerous reports of Christians suffering at the hands of the Religion of Peace, Mohamadism
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