1. Dwell on the Good (verse 8)
2. Practice what is Right (verse 9)

Our text today will be Philippians, chapter 4, covering verses 8 and 9. But before we get to it, I want to remind you of a simple truth that you learned as a child: "you are what you eat." If you eat healthy, with a well-rounded diet, chances are that you will be healthy. But, if you fill your body with junk food, like potato chips, cupcakes and candy, your body will not get the appropriate nutrients that it needs. Sickness and weakness may well come upon you.

Now, what is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm. But, rather than eating, the spiritual realm has to do with thinking. Here it is: You are what you think. If you think the thoughts of God with a healthy dose of Bible intake, chances are that you will know the blessings of God in your life. But, if you fill your mind with junk, like entertainment, popular reading, bad movies--your spirit will not be strengthened in the inner man. And sin and evil will easily overtake you. It is when your mind is engaged and set upon the Lord that you are strong. But, a mind that is not fed with the truth of God's word is weak and susceptible to fall.

Nowhere is this more clear than in Romans 8:6, "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." Such is the importance of our text this morning. It speaks of our thoughts. Let's read it now, ...

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Notice, first of all, that Paul begins these verses with the word, "Finally." Unlike chapter 3, verse 1, Paul is indeed in the home stretch of his letter to the Philippians. After verse 9, Paul will address the whole reason for this letter in the first place. If you remember, the book of Philippians is a "Thank You note." Beginning in verse 10, Paul will address the financial gift that was sent to him by the Philippians. Epaphroditus had brought the letter to Paul (verse 18). And with this letter, Paul expressed his joy in their expression of love to him (verse 10).

But, before he gets to that, he first needs to wrap up this short little section of short commands, which began in verse 1. From verse 1 to verse 7, we have seven commands, about one command per verse.

Verse 1 - Stand firm.
Verse 2 - Live in harmony.
Verse 3 - Help Euodia and Synteche to live in harmony.
Verse 4 - Rejoice.
Verse 5 - Be gentle.
Verse 6 - Don't worry.
Verse 6 - Pray.

And now, in these two verses, we have two commands as well. One in verse 8 and one in verse 9. The command in verse 8 comes at the end of the verse, "Dwell on these things." The command in verse 9 comes near the end of the verse, "Practice these things." Verse 8 has to do with our thoughts. Verse 9 has to do with our actions.

These two are connected. Your actions flow from your thoughts. That's why Solomon warned his son, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23). That's why Jesus said, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man" (Mark 7:20-23).

Our sin begins within us, with our thoughts and intentions. And then, it proceeds to our actions. So also righteousness works the same way. It begins with the thoughts of our minds. And then, it continues on into our actions.

Simply put, "Good thoughts lead to good actions. Bad thoughts lead to bad actions." This is big idea of our text this morning: Thinking and Doing. It's the title of my message, "Thinking and Doing."

So, let's start with thinking in Philippians 4:8, ...

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Here's my first point, ...
1. Dwell on the Good (verse 8)

That's the point of verse 8: Dwell on the good. Paul first lists eight qualities, all of which represent good things. The true, the honorable, the right, the pure, the lovely, and the good repute, the excellent and worthy of praise. These may be found in people and what God has done through them. They may be found in God and what He has done. And then, he says, "dwell on these things." Or, as the ESV says, "think about these things." Or, as the New King James say, "meditate on these things."

Let's just walk through these words one by one.

a. True. This is everything that God is. This is everything that is not false. This is the opposite of "what might be." This is reality.

b. Honorable. This word comes a word meaning, "worship." It describes those who are to be "esteemed" or "respected." It speaks of everything that is right in our humanity. It does away with all silliness and disrespect.

c. Right. This is a legal term, describing what is right under the law. It speaks of fairness and justice, when all is as it should be. It describes righteous words and deeds. It does away with all partiality and prejudice and favoritism.

d. Pure. This is related to the word often translated, "holy." It describes the one free from defilement. It speaks of the clean and wholesome and chaste. It's the opposite of dirty or defiled or corrupted.

e. Lovely. This word describes those things that aim toward love. It describes the pleasant and enjoyable. It speaks of comfort and ease and love and peace and happiness. Lovely things bring a smile to your face.

f. Good repute. This word tells of those things that are good to hear. It describes the good report that comes home. It tells of the hearing of the pleasant things. It's the satisfying story.

g. Excellence. This describes anything of moral goodness. It speaks of virtue and nobility. It describes those things that characterize the best in man -- chivalry and self-sacrifice and heroism.

h. Worthy of praise. This describes anything worthy of recognition. It describes those things for which we want to stand and applaud. It can speak of the high human accomplishment. It can speak of any of the attributes of God.

Here's a whole list of eight things. They describe the good of this life. They speak of the goodness of God. And then, Paul says at the end of the verse, "dwell on these things." Put them in your mind and think about them. Meditate upon them.

What a timely word for us, who live in the "information age." We have more exposure to things that can come into our minds than anyone who has ever lived before! Think about it. For thousands of years, the only books that people ever read were those written out for them by hand, until the printing press came along in the 1400's. For another 450 years, the only voice that people ever heard was the voice of someone speaking directly to them, face-to-face, until the telephone came along in the late 1800's. It wasn't until the 1920's, that people could listen to background noise of others talking or making music when the radio began to be used publically. It wasn't until the 1940's that television began making inroads into the home. The internet, which has only been around for 25 years, has really brought media into our homes and into our lives. Cell-phones, as we know them, have only been around for 20 years. And the smart phone, which merged the computer and the phone and the internet into a mobile device, has been around for fewer than 10 years.

All of this technology and all of this access to media screams for our attention. And how easy it is to think upon these things. How easy is it to fritter away our time reading status updates of all your friends on Facebook; seeing pictures of the various graduation events this month; seeing pictures of adorable children sleeping in the most awkward positions; seeing old pictures of the Beetles; seeing a series of awkward family photos; reading an info graphic on languages spoken in our country; reading an article on the problems with our welfare system today or the conspiracies behind the 9-11 attacks. You could spend your time watching 3-5 minute movies of amazing basketball shots, or adorable puppies, or a coming storm, or a prank gone wrong, or a birthday surprise, or the worst beat-boxer ever, or a truck that almost blows over on the highway, or a man picking his earwax, or a baby elephant being washed down the river, or a dog in a bowling alley, or the way that movies should have ended, or how a rock splashes water in slow motion, or how people respond when their love ones return from Iraq.

You can give in to the "link bait" that we see all over the internet. When you see a video with a small headline saying, "You will never guess what happens next!" Or, "This will make your day." Or, "Listen to this man's graduation speech. His sixth sentence will surprise you!"

I think that you know what I mean. Now, that's not to discount the many good things that media can bring to us. Never before have we been able to connect with others so quickly and so easily, even on the road wherever we are. A mass email can easily communicate with everyone in the church. No longer do we need to waste time getting directions from people, because now we have Google Maps. No longer do we need to wonder if somebody is coming to the meeting, because they can call us and tell us how late they are and when to expect them.

But, I just say this: there is a danger in all of this media. There is a danger to our minds being so distracted by everything around us that we fail to focus our attention upon, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things" (Phil 4:8).

Paul lamented those who "set their minds on earthly things" (3:19). He called them "enemies of the cross of Christ" (3:18). And much of our media can bring us down to think only about earthly things.

I'm not at all going to tell you to abandon media. In fact, I would argue quite the contrary. Never before in the history of the world have we been able to surround ourselves with media that is worthwhile and excellent. Today, with millions of sermons available for us to download and place on our mp3 players, we can listen to the most gifted preachers on the planet. We can watch many of them on YouTube. We can audit a seminary course online. We can read any of hundreds of thousands of best books published throughout the history of the Christian church, for free!

But, it is a matter of a choice. It is a matter of using technology, not abusing technology. Because, as good and helpful as the internet can be, it can also be wicked. Very wicked. I think that you all know what I'm talking about. There are pictures and images and movies on the internet that ought never to enter your minds. And it's all so easy, only a click away.

Perhaps the best guide to your media consumption is this: Is it true? Is it honorable? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it of good repute? Does it have excellence? Is it worthy of praise? Then, by all means, read it and see it and use it. Use it to direct your attention upon the Lord. But, if it is not these things, stay away. For those of you who are engaged in pornography or other evils of the internet, I call you to repent! You know it's bad. You know that it's evil. It comes with consequence. So, turn from your wickedness. And seek the Lord.

In our small group two weeks ago, we were looking at this passage. And we kept coming back to the person of Jesus. Jesus meets all of these characteristics.

Jesus is true. Jesus is the true bread coming down out of heaven (John 6:32). Jesus said that His testimony was true (John 8:14). Jesus is honorable. Never was there a man more worthy of our respect or honor than Jesus. It was right for the disciples to fall at His feet and worship Him (Matthew 28:9, 17). Jesus is just. Several places in the Bible we learn that Jesus will judge the world. "God has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). And His judgment will be completely fair.

Jesus is pure. Jesus was the only one of us who has ever lived without sinning (2 Cor. 5:21). Even when being tempted by the devil, Jesus didn't sin (Matt. 4:1-11). He always had pure thoughts. He always had pure motives. Jesus is lovely. You simply need to see how Jesus dealt with sinners to see how lovely He was. He tenderly touched the lepers. He dealt gently with the woman caught in adultery. He was utterly patient with His disciples. Jesus is of good repute. Crowds of people came to listen to Him teach. And they heard Him gladly. People crowded into homes to hear Him and see Him heal.

If there is any excellence, it is found in Jesus. He is the epitome of moral goodness and virtue. You simply need to read the gospels to see this shine through. If there is anything worthy of praise, it is found in Jesus. He is to be praised for His compassion. He is to be praised for His wisdom. He is to be praised for His grace and mercy and tender love. He is to be praised for His sacrifice for sinners. He died for us to bring us to God. We simply need to believe.

So, dwell on Jesus. Dwell on good things.

You may not realize how important this is. This is the call of Proverbs upon your life. A friend of mine wrote a blog post yesterday, speaking about this. He wrote, ...

Life comes forth from the heart. Our whole experience of life derives from what is in our hearts. Our perspectives, meaning-making, significance-finding, even simple joy, they all come from the heart.

Proverbs 4:23, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life"

The Hebrew word translated as "keep," more specifically means either protect or govern. If the meaning is to protect, it is about keeping watch as against an enemy, that nothing bad influences the integrity of one's heart. If the meaning is to govern, it is about keeping watch as in restraining a prisoner, that nothing bad comes out of one's heart.

Obviously, we want to be doing both, protecting and governing, but the second option here seems to be more likely, that of governing. We are strongly advised to restrain our hearts from wrongdoing. ...

We must do so because the tendency of our hearts is to lead us astray.

Disney Has it Backwards.

This can be hard to accept because it is contrary to the ever-present and popular Gospel according to Disney, which teaches relentlessly to just follow your heart. ...


Jeremiah 17:9–10, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.""
Proverbs 21:2, "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart."

This is why we pray like David in Psalm 139:23–24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" [1]

And so, this morning, I want for you to think about your thoughts. Do you dwell on the good? Do you think much about Christ? Do you meditate much upon the Scripture? Do you work to bring your mind to think about Scripture? Or, do you let your thoughts run wild?

I love the picture that Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 10:5, about "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." He's describing our thoughts as a wandering criminal that must be apprehended and thrown in jail. We don't let our thoughts wander in the streets unrestrained, because we know the wickedness of our hearts. We know where our hearts would end up on their own. So, we take them captive and bring them into conformity to Christ!

Where are your thoughts? We would never think about allowing our children to run loose in the street alone, late at night. Do you let your thoughts run loose, alone, late at night? Or, do you take them captive? Do you bring your thoughts to think about the good things?

John Piper just wrote a great article about our thoughts when we are in vulnerable places. Specifically, for him, it was a hospital bed. It is called, "Ten Lessons From A Hospital Bed." [2] What do you do with your thoughts when in a vulnerable place like this?

It's right here where we see the value of Scripture memory. Without the Scripture in your mind, it is impossible to constantly dwell on the good. You may think that because you don't have a bunch of Bible verses memorized, that you can't do this. Even if you had zero Bible verses memorized before today, you could make Philippians 4:8 your very first verse, upon which you meditate all day long.

Philippians 4:8
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

And when your thoughts begin to stray to the bad, you can say, "Whoa there thoughts, come back!" And you repeat it again.

Philippians 4:8
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

And indeed, if this is the only verse of Scripture that you have committed to memory, it will cause you to think of what you know that is good to dwell upon.

It's at that point that you might take up a hymnal. And even if you have zero hymns memorized, you would do well to begin with some of the songs we sang this morning. Like #63, ...

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

Refrain: O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice! (Refrain)

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light. (Refrain)

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care! (Refrain)

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One! (Refrain)

Or, perhaps you take up another hymn. Maybe #408, ...

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.

And if those are too hard, then take up the chorus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.
In the light of His glory and grace.

Start singing to yourself. Sing the Scriptures into your mind. Sing the Psalms into your mind. Sing the great hymns of the faith into your mind. And dwell upon the good things.

Perhaps you need to purchase a praise CD that's saturated with the truth. Perhaps you need to put a CD player in your kitchen or in your bathroom or in your workshop to bring your mind back to the good.

Right thoughts lead to right actions. Bad thoughts lead to bad actions. That's why Paul is constantly directing His listeners to think rightly.

We see this all over scripture. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Colossians 3:2 tells us to, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." And Ephesians 4:23, says, "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind." 2 Timothy 2:7 instructs, "Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything."

So, Dwell on the Good (verse 8). Let's move on to my second point.

2. Practice what is Right (verse 9)

This comes in verse 9, ...

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

Again, Paul puts forth a list. And then comes the command. What you have learned; what you have received; what you have heard; what you have seen, practice these things. Be like the physician who practices medicine, constantly applying all that he learned in medical school. Be like the lawyer who practices law, constantly applying all that he learned in law school. May "practice make perfect."

Practice what you have learned. Practice what you have received. Practice what you have heard. Practice what you have seen.

Notice the little words, "in me." Paul brings attention to himself. And he says, "Do as I do."

Paul has already given a similar thought. "Brethren, join in following my example" (Philippians 3:17). In chapter 2:18, Paul called those in Philippi to follow him as well, "You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me." That is, without grumbling or complaining (2:14). Even when surrounded by a "crooked and perverse generation" (2:15), even when passing through great suffering (2:17), Paul puts himself before the Philippians as an example to follow.

The church in Philippi was very familiar with the apostle Paul. He planted the church on his 2nd missionary journey. He revisited the church on his 3rd missionary journey. And right now, he's writing to the church. He hopes to revisit the church again (2:24).

So, the Philippians had learned many things from Paul. They had heard him teach when the church was established. They had heard him teach when he re-visited the church. And here in this book, we see more of his teaching. Conduct yourself worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus [who humbled Himself greatly] (Philippians 2:5). Rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1). "Follow my example, of not trusting in my righteousness, but in the righteousness of Jesus (Philippians 3:17). Rejoice in the Lord; be gentle; don't worry; be prayerful (Philippians 4:4-7).

And in verse 8, Paul calls those in Philippi to recall his teaching and put it into practice.

Philippians 4:9
The things you have learned and received and heard ...

Perhaps this also refers to the things that others had taught them as well. Other pastors and teachers in the congregation. We don't know. But, we do know that Paul puts forth his life as a living object lesson for how to live a godly lie.

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

If Paul's interaction with those in Philippi was anything like his interaction with those in Thessalonica (which he planted during his 2nd missionary journey and which he visited during his 3rd missionary journey), and we can safely assume that it was a similar interaction, then we can get a feel for Paul's ministry among the Philippians.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed -- God is witness -- nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

Paul poured himself out for those in Thessalonica. And I'm sure that he did the same for those in Philippi. And those in Thessalonica saw his life up close. And I'm sure that those in Philippi were able to see the same thing. And when they received this letter, they could have asked Epaphroditus anything they wanted about Paul and his integrity. How is he doing? How is his suffering affecting his faith?

I see two lines of application here. First of all, it's to you parents who influence your children. Second, it's to all of us who are called to live this way.

I know that Paul isn't speaking of parents at this moment. He's speaking as a pastor. He's speaking as a spiritual leader. Paul knows that people will follow the example of their spiritual leaders far more than they will follow their teachings. And that's a scary thought. But that's why character qualities are given as requirements of spiritual leaders (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). And, in the integrity of Paul's life, he says, "Do as I do."

Every parent is a spiritual leader as well. You are spiritually leading your children. Even if your children are out of the home; and even if you see your children only occasionally, you are still leading them spiritually by what you say and do.

Now, there are many parents who say, "Do as I say, not as I do." And do you know what the children will do? They will follow the example of their parents every time. Do you want to train your children in the ways of the Lord? Then walk in the ways of the Lord. Do you want to train your children in the ways of sin? Then walk in the ways of sin.

Do you want to teach your children to rejoice in the gospel? Then rejoice in the gospel (1:18). Do you want to teach your children to grumble and complain? Then grumble and complain (2:14).

Do you want to teach your children to be humble? Then model the humility of Christ before them (2:5-11). Do you want to teach your children to be crooked and perverse? Then live like our generation does (2:15).

Do you want to teach your children to live for the life to come? Then live as a citizen of heaven (3:20). Do you want to teach your children to love the world? Then set your minds on earthly things (3:19).

Do you want to teach your children to be anxious? Then be anxious yourself (4:6). Do you want to teach your children find their peace in God? Then, Dwell on the Good (verse 8) and Practice what is Right (verse 9).

I say this because this is the promise of verse 9.

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

Verse 7 contained a similar promise of peace as well. When worry comes into your heart and you pray to God, the promise is that, "The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7). This promise comes to all who think godly thoughts and act in godly ways. God will be with you. The God of the universe will be with you, bringing His peace with Him.

Dwell on the Good (verse 8). Practice what is Right (verse 9). May the Lord give us strength to do these things.

This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on May 18, 2014 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.

[1] http://justgetontheplane.blogspot.com/2014/05/govern-your-heart.html

[2] http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/ten-lessons-from-a-hospital-bed