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Philippians 4:8-9

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. General remarks on the lesson text.

1. These verses follow Paul's exhortation in v. 4-7 to cast aside worry and anxiety.

2. For one who desires to possess this peaceful freedom from worry Paul's words in v. 8-9 are a welcomed answer. One is able to escape and be kept from anxiety by living a life which is acceptable to God.

3. In our text Paul discusses how one can enjoy life and be joyful in living each day. It is tragic that many view living as a burden -- they never find joyous living. Thus they live miserably the majority of their years.

4. God wants us to enjoy life. He wants us to be happy and contented (1 Ti 6:17; Eccl 3:12-13). The misery of life is often our own doings, not God's! In Philip 4:8-9 we find a lesson on joyous living.

II. In our text we note that joyful living is dependent upon two things -- thinking and doing.

1. "These comprise the whole of life, and to have these twin-springs pure and sweet is to have the character unsullied, or as James I. 27 would say, 'to keep himself unspotted from the world'" (King).

2. "Thinking and doing are the conditions on which the God of peace will tarry in the heart...these will bring the blessed dove of heaven to brood in the nest of your soul" (Meyer).

III. Consider what all must be performed if we are to experience this joyous living in our life.


I. Joyous living depends upon our thinking (v. 8).

A. The Scriptures often stress the importance of our thoughts. 

1. Ps 19:14; Pr 23:7; Mt 5:28; Ps 119:113; 139;23, 24. 

2. Impure thinking will lead to impure conduct. Those whose thoughts are wrong can never be acceptable to God (Ro 1).

3. Is 26:3 -- "Stayed" -- a wall built on a sure foundation. Peace comes by being solid in our thoughts of the Lord.

4. It is clear, there can NEVER be holy living without holy thoughts! Are we truly aware of this vital connection with joy!

B. This exhortation of Paul's enjoins the following kinds of thinking in our minds.


a. Paul urges his readers to take a positive line and cultivate good thoughts.

b. Paul was a great positive thinker because he held the secret to joyous living (Col 1:24; Philip 1:12, 18-21).

c. The Christian should be a positive thinker because of his relationship with God (Ro 8:31).

d. To find the secret of joyous living, begin looking for the positive points in events and persons. Neglect the negative, nagging, and pessimism.


a. We had better exert strong care because evil thoughts will condemn us before God (1 Co 4:5).

b. To impress his readers Paul lists six specifics and two general points which are to govern our thinking." Here (v. 8) Paul has set forth in memorable words a veritable charter for Christian thought" (Kent).

c. "Let these six sisters stand at the gateway of your soul, and challenge every thought as it offers itself, admitting only those thoughts which approve themselves as true, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. O God, let these six angels come into our souls, from now until we meet Thee, let us give the entire control of our nature up to their serene, strong, wholesome restraint, that all that is inconsistent with them may be abashed, and everything which is consistent with them admitted to infill and dwell within us" (Meyer).

d. Friends, careful thinking is a must you have to develop if joyous living is to characterize your life.

3. GUARDED THINKING (2 Co 10:3-5).

a. Bunyan -- Ignorance was walking with two elder pilgrims and said, "My heart is as good as any man's . . . As to my thoughts, I take no notice of them." There are scores who are life this, they take no precaution to guard their thoughts.

b. Paul says -- "Think carefully, take care what you allow into your mind."

c. Great precautions are taken to protect the President of our nation. We would do well to take special precautions and place a guard at the door of our hearts to examine every thought.

d. What should we do with the stray evil thought that is bound to wander in? (2 Co10:5). Do not ever allow such to remain!

II. Joyous living depends on our application of God's truth (v. 8b, 9a).

A. Knowledge alone is never sufficient (Jas 2:19). Knowledge burdens one with responsibility to respond to the truth realized. In our text Paul points our that there are two duties which must be performed if we are to share in this joyous living.

B. The two details discussed.

1. We MUST "THINK" (v. 8b). "Think" -- to meditate, to dwell on, to give continuous attention to, to mull over, to focus on. This will result in the shaping of conduct. 

a. "Let such things shape your attitude" (Foulkes).

b. Ps 1:1-2 uses this word. If one is to be kept in righteousness, his mind must be occupied with God's Word.

c. Ps 1:2 -- "meditate" -- originally meant "chew the cud." One takes a portion of the Word and then goes quietly aside to dwell on that over and over until he has fully digested its meaning. Such is the first duty that is enjoined by Paul here. 

2. We MUST "DO" (v. 9a). Put into practice your knowledge. 

a. Knowing is not enough, we must do! (Jn. 13:17; I Jn 1:6). "The Truth is not simply something to be discovered, to be understood, to be admired, to be preached -- it is something to be done!" (King)

b. Jas 1:22 -- Blessings result when we are able to translate our knowledge into actions.

c. Mt 23 -- The rulers were condemned because they failed to translate our knowledge into actions. They were hypocrites! Such is true of many today who refuse to translate knowledge into actions. If we store up knowledge but it is never allowed to filter to our hearts and hands, we are no better than the pharisaic hypocrite!

d. We discover a most important point -- God measures maturity not by what we know, but by what we do with what we know! (Hb 5:12-14).

e. Don't overlook this serious point, until what we know and have been taught is translated into actions, it is worthless!

III. Joyous living will result in glorious fellowship WITH God (v. 9b).

A. For all who will combine knowledge with practice there is a wonderful promise. Not only will we share in the peace of God (v. 7), but the very God of peace will be with us always!

B. There is no higher blessing and no greater motivation for us "to think on these things"!


I. Application of this lesson is clear to all.

1. We need to guard our thoughts! Few have any problem with murder, adultery, etc., but we all share problems with our thinking! What about lust, discouragement, gossip, etc., sins of the mind process? We sin in these areas because we have failed to think!

2. The one who shares in this joyous living will be free from complaining, arguing, fretting, moping, self-pity, etc. They will look at all things in a positive way.

3. Joyous living results only when we think on the right things and when we do what God has commanded! Should you fail to have joy, it may very well be due to the fact that you are not doing these things!

4. May we all strictly guard our thoughts, arresting immediately all that are not compatible with the six items of v. 8. One drop of contaminated water into a pitcher of pure water will result in damage -- the cool, pure water will never purify the defilement, but the defilement will corrupt the pure. So Satan seeks to corrupt our lives by introducing just one corrupt thought!

II. May we enjoy life! Joyous living is available to all who will submit to our Heavenly Father's Will!

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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