Since hanging this visual of Philippians 4:8 on my office wall, opposite the door, I have been forced to look at it every time I enter the room. As a result, I’ve been thinking about how important our thought patterns are to the outworking of our faith in a life of godliness. However, thinking about the right way to think—the way God wants us to think—has also resulted in thinking about some of the things that we should not think about. In other words, the truth and positive perspective exalted by the Scriptures on this poster, which we must put on, have reminded me of how false and negative our thought patterns can be, which must be put off. Therefore, I have come up with a list of opposites—sinful and negative thought patterns—we must repent of while at the same time filling our minds with positive truth: “Don’t Think On these Things.”
- Whatever Is False (plane): ideas that are erroneous, wandering, and deceitful. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit (1 Thess 2:3).
- Whatever Is Dishonorable (atimia): a lifestyle that is degrading and shameful. Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor (2 Tim 2:20).
- Whatever Is Unjust (adikos): actions that are unjust, unrighteous, and wicked. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much (Luke 16:10, NKJ).
- Whatever Is Impure (akatharsia): any form of impurity and uncleanness. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints (Eph 5:3).
- Whatever Is Unbecoming (aschemoneo): behavior that is unseemly, improper, and unsuitable. [Love] does not act unbecomingly (1 Cor 13:5).
- Whatever Is Offensive (proskope): a cause for stumbling. [G]iving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited (2 Cor 6:30).
- Whatever Is Evil (poneros): bad, malignant, wicked, and worthless. [A]bstain from every form of evil (1 Thess 5:22).
- Whatever Is Disgraceful (aischros): deeds that are shameful, improper, and sordid. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret (Eph 5:11-12).
This contrast to the thought guidelines given in Philippians 4:8 remind us that growth in godliness always includes the dual action of putting off sin and putting on practical righteousness. Our negative, sinful thought patterns must be continually rejected (2 Cor 10:5) while we simultaneously think true and righteous thoughts.
Peter reminds us of our personal responsibility to govern our thoughts: Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13).