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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: November 14, 2019
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome back to HBS.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
In the last lesson we took a good long look at Paul’s outline on prayer noting it is not to be combined with the Lord’s instructions on prayer found in the O.T. We also note Paul emphasized giving thanks to God instead of just rattling off a list of things you want Him to do for you. Although there’s nothing wrong with asking God for a divine favor, in verse 4:6 Paul essentially said the Believers’ prayer life should be balanced, i.e. thanksgiving, and then “let your requests be made known unto God.”
My parents taught me to say, “please and thank you.” I seldom hear anyone say please and thank you; makes me wonder if parents are teaching children to appreciate things. Speaking from personal experience their emphasis appears to be on obtaining more stuff instead of cherishing what they have. This describes the nation of Israel to a “T.” Despite the faithfulness and goodness of the LORD God the Israelites were an ungrateful bunch (Numbers 11). That’s a bad habit Paul doesn’t want the Philippians (and us) to imitate. So, he emphasized the need to count our blessings and give thanks to God for each and every one:
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, For the good; his mercy everlasting; And his truth to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5). into his courts with praise: Be thankful unto him, bless his name.
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Paul then assured these Believers God answers every prayer request but not in the way most people think. Instead of giving us whatsoever we ask for in Jesus’ name, Paul said, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (guard) your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Nearly every letter Paul wrote begins with the phrase “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” According to the Bible, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” is the harmony and calmness of body, mind, and spirit that supersedes our earthly circumstances. Throughout scripture we find peace described as a blessing from God:
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men” (Luke 2:10-14).
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
I also mentioned the peace of God is not automatic it’s a process. The more you know God’s will, dispensationaly speaking, the more God is able to work in you; the more you allow God to work in and through you, the more peace of God you’ll experience.
********Open your Bible at Philippians 4:8-9.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
As Paul prepares to close this letter to the Philippians he placed special emphasis on the Believer’s responsibility before God. In the previous lesson, we established these saints were not to occupy themselves with worrying about things that were beyond their control. This would only serve to draw their attention away from the things of God. They were to rest in the fact that God is in control of all things (Romans 8:28-29).
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (4:7).
Here Paul assured them the peace of God would not only be with them, He would also guard their hearts and minds. But to fully realize this promise they needed to align their thought life with the Word of God, and continue practicing the lessons they had learned from observing the life of Paul. In other words, “keep thinking on these things – keep practicing these things.”
The word “Finally” connects verses 4:6-9. Verses 4:6-7 explain how to obtain the peace of God. Verses 4:8-9 describes how to keep it. In order to hold onto the peace of God, the Believer must occupy their hearts and minds with the things Paul lists in 4:8, and then “do” the things he wrote down in 4:9.
“Think on these things” at the end of verse 4:8 means “take into account, reflect upon, and then allow those things to shape your conduct.” So Believers are to reflect upon and take into account” whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,” so that they might “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1b) by allowing these things to shape their thought life and consequently their conduct.
Proverbs 23:7 teaches as a person “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This verse reminds me of something my mother said one afternoon after I was caught in a lie. She said, “Where your mind goes, your body follows.” Another way of saying this is, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character.” Our actions, habits, and character stem from our thinking. In order for us to have godly actions, habits, and character, we must have the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) and then allow God’s Word to live in us so it will guide our thoughts. Plainly said, we need to renew our minds because people usually don’t think this way.
After their conversion the Believer should begin to think and act differently because they now view everything in accordance with God’s will, dispensationaly speaking.
The Believers at Philippi were carnally minded, so they did not have the mind of Christ. So, before Paul could say, “Finally,” and “think on these things” the Philippians had to first “Put on Christ,” (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27), that is, have the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:1-5).
In verse 4:8 Paul listed eight things that contribute to a Christ-like thought life. Note he did not mention one negative thought they were to avoid. Instead, he stressed only the things that edify the Believer, that is, enrich their spiritual walk and provide a godly mindset. You see, unless they “have the mind of Christ” it’s unlikely they will experience what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, etc. and act accordingly.
The first item the Believer is to think on is “whatsoever things are true.” Have you heard someone say, “That may be true for you, but not for me” or “There are no absolutes.” I’m not only hearing this mindset more and more I’m seeing it everywhere I turn. This is relativism in case you’re unaware and it’s invading our economy, our government, our judicial system, our society, our schools, our homes, and the church. Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid, and that all truth is relative to the individual. This means that all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are truths that are relative to the individual. However, abandoning what is true does not nullify it. If one of these folks step off of a ten-story building they will quickly realize gravity is an absolute. Our society cannot flourish nor survive in an environment where everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes, where the situation determines moral truth and lying and cheating are okay as long as you don't get caught. The Bible referred to this mindset as anarchy:
“And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:214-25).
People have banned the Bible, God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christianity in general. In doing so, our diverse society seeks to avoid the idea that there is a right and wrong and everyone is accountable for their behavior. This is lawlessness pure and simple.
Our Lord and Savior said, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6); and “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth(John 17:17).
Truth exists but few people are willing to search for it. During a Bible class I was asked “How old is the universe?” I said, “According to the Bible, it’s about six thousand years old, give or take.” This statement was met with rancorous laughter and a few negative comments about the accuracy of the Bible. These people were defending science instead of God’s Word. They place their faith in what they can see and understand. Science is one example. The Church of Scientology is one of the fastest growing churches today. They teach no one is asked to accept anything as belief or on faith. That which is true for you is what you have observed to be true. That being said, even though a scientist said the universe has been in existence for billions of years, and man evolved from a chemical slime pit in the dateless past, the Scriptures clearly teach man was created by God in the beginning and that about six thousand years ago (Genesis 1:26-27).
Staying on the subject of what is false, many religions today teach your salvation can be lost, water baptism not only saves you it removes your sin, while others teach God alone chooses who He will save. But if you are well grounded in the truth an error becomes obvious. A straight line always exposes a crooked line. This is why we are “to think on whatsoever things are true” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
“But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation (conduct) the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Our Apostle Paul wanted the Philippians (and us) to know and understand “the truth is in Jesus.” Therefore, when Paul said, “to think on whatsoever things are true” he means in contrast to that which is false, and walk accordingly.
In the previous lesson I mentioned it was Paul who wrote: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” Using the Scriptures then, I will illustrate what he had in mind when he said, “…whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Think on whatsoever things are honest expresses the idea of being admired and respected for your character or your integrity:
Please turn to Daniel 6:1-4. When King Darius placed Daniel over his kingdom the presidents and princes in the king’s court were filled with jealousy. Hoping to find fault with Daniel in his execution of the affairs of state they secretly spied on him. When the report came back from those who observed Daniel, it was said, “they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.” The next time a dishonest thought crosses your mind remember Daniel, who was a man of impeccable character.
Think on whatsoever things are just or right. Now, turn to I Samuel 26:1-12 please. While King Saul was hunting David in the wilderness to kill him, David came upon Saul and his men who were sound asleep. Abishai who was with David that evening said: “God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear,” but David instructed Abishai to “Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD’S anointed, and be guiltless?” David did what was right in God’s sight. In spite of Saul’s failures, he was still the Lord’s anointed; consequently, if Saul died it would have to be by God’s hand and not David’s. So, I ask you, when you completed last year’s tax return, did you falsify the document by giving inaccurate financial data? If you did, God considers that unjust.
Think on whatsoever things are pure or free from moral defilement. Please turn to Genesis 39:9. Not long after Joseph was given charge over Potiphar’s household and business affairs, his wife tried to entice Joseph into an illicit affair. He responded to her unwanted advances in the following manner: “There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” The next time you are tempted to commit an immoral act keep yourself pure - flee from all forms of sexual immorality, for this is the will of God (I Thessalonians 4:3).
Think on whatsoever things are lovely means to be amiable, well pleasing. Please turn to Acts 4:36-37. You probably know at least one Believer who is a joy to be around. You’ve never heard them say an unkind word and they always seem to have a word of encouragement to share with others. This describes Barnabas, “the son of consolation.” When John Mark (a relative of Barnabas) stumbled in the faith, and was rebuked by the Apostle Paul, it was Barnabas who wanted to give him a second chance. Because of his unwavering support John Mark regained his spiritual footing (2 Timothy 4:11). So the next time you have a critical thought remember Barnabas it may keep you from saying or doing something you’ll later regret.
Think on whatsoever things are of good report, means to be understood as being well-spoken of or reputable. Turn to Acts 6:3 please. You will recall when there arose a dispute over the distribution of food after Pentecost Peter addressed the brethren accordingly: “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” So seven men were selected one of which was Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” Stephen had proven himself to be both faithful and dependable, so he was chosen. It literally takes years to establish a good reputation, but only a moment in time to destroy it. If your pastor was looking for someone to fill a position of leadership would your name be found on the list of those who are of good report?
“If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Paul concludes this passage of scripture saying, “if there be any virtue” or moral excellence, and as we have seen above there is, so take note of them. “If there be any praise” it should be given to God, and there is, so think on these things and you will be on your way to having a godly mindset. Please turn to 2 Corinthians and we’ll drop in at 10:3:
“ 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; 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;” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Paul said, “we are to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Herein lies the key to spiritual victory. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me (our Apostle Paul), do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (4:9). What things had these Believers at Philippi learned from the apostle? I’m glad you asked. They had “learned” the “Revelation of the mystery” from him and all that it entails. They understood they were members of the Body of Christ, and blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. Paul had effectively communicated to them how Christ is carrying out His heavenly ministry today, and that they were the recipients of a heavenly hope and calling. In addition, they also “received” the teachings of grace as their own. Because they received this knowledge from Paul they were able to defend the gospel of grace. It’s one thing to say you’re aware of God’s grace. It is a completely different matter to fully accept it and stand for it uncompromisingly. The saints at Philippi were fully committed to Paul’s apostleship and message, which God expects every person to embrace in the Age of Grace.
The Philippians had “heard” the gospel of the grace of God, not secondhand mind you, but directly from Paul himself during his initial visit to Philippi (Acts 16). He preached Jesus Christ to them according to the revelation of the Mystery (Rom. 16:25). They had heard him proclaim the secret of the gospel, of how God was in Christ at Calvary reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). Now they were sharing the good news that Christ died for the sins of all with those who needed to hear it. Furthermore, they had “seen” firsthand how Paul handled adversity in a Christ-like manner. He didn’t lash out in a tirade at his persecutors when he was beaten unmercifully. Nor did he curse the Philippian jailor when he threw him into the inner prison and put his feet in stocks. Instead, he prayed and sang songs of praise to God, which so moved the jailor that he trusted Christ immediately after the earthquake took place (Acts 16:19-31).
It is far more beneficial for a son to see his father living for the Lord, than to hand him a list of do’s and don’ts. You see, Paul not only taught these things, he lived them. With this in mind, the apostle challenges these saints in Christ to “do” these things, in the sense of performing them repeatedly, to which he adds: “And the God of peace shall be with you.” This encouragement is as relevant today as when Paul first gave it.
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