Philippians 4:4-5 ESV
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.”
To rejoice in the Lord is to have joy, to have pleasure in him; to leap for joy in him, to delight in him, to be satisfied in him. This means we find our happiness, our satisfaction, and our pleasure in the Lord, in honoring him, serving him, obeying him, in doing what he says, and in revering him. And, this is to be our practice always, day by day, and hour by hour.
And, we are to let our reasonableness (gentleness, moderateness) be known to all. And, this has to do with our restraint of fleshly passions. We are to live lives which are free from sensual indulgences in all propriety (decency). We are to guard our hearts against all manner of evil and wickedness, and we are not to be those who easily give way to the passions of the flesh. For, we are to be examples of those who are living holy lives, pleasing to God.
For, our Lord is near. He is readily accessible to us day and night to help us to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. He has given us his spiritual armor to put on so that we can fight off all temptations to sin and all of Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, for those who truly trust in the Lord, God has empowered us with his strength to say “No” to the flesh, and to say “Yes” to God, as our daily practice.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
One of Satan’s biggest weapons he uses against us is to get us to be afraid. And, right now, in our world, fear is definitely being used as a weapon against us. For, we are being strongly tempted daily via the news media to be afraid of germs, of people, of socializing, of bees, of everything, really.
And, when we give in to fear, and we let it overtake us, then we sin against God, because we are not trusting God with our lives and with our futures.
And, also, it opens the door wide to giving in to so many other passions of the flesh, too. For, when people are afraid of what the future holds for them, or when they are afraid to even go outside the doors of their homes, then they also are vulnerable to becoming distressed and depressed. And, when depressed, that opens the door wide, too, to temptations to giving into the lusts of the flesh.
I have heard that during this pandemic that the number of hits on porn sites, for example, has greatly increased, especially when we were all under lockdown, which some people still are, and which we may be again (1).
I can tell you with great certainty that Satan uses fear in our lives to lead us into all kinds of evil if we are not taking pleasure in our Lord, in walking in obedience to his commands, and if we are not living lives free from sensual indulgences, but if we are just coasting along living to please our flesh.
So, if we want our hearts and our minds guarded against the temptations of the flesh to live in fear, to become depressed, and to give in to sensual indulgences, then we need to be walking in the fear of the Lord, obeying his commands. We need to be living lives above reproach, finding our satisfaction in our Lord and not in our flesh. And, daily we must be putting on the armor of God with which to fight off the temptations of the flesh.
Whatever is True
Philippians 4:8-9 ESV
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Temptation in our Minds
Sin begins in the mind. We are first tempted in the mind. If we give in to the temptation in our minds, then we are more likely to do what we were tempted to do, especially if we feed that temptation in the mind on a somewhat regular or consistent (cyclical) basis.
What we take into our minds, too, impacts what we do, how we live, how we think, and our attitudes, too. And, it doesn’t have to be really bad stuff, either. It can be just nonsense, games, music, stories, videos, movies, etc. which may, on a surface level, seem rather innocuous. But, they are just filling up space, and they aren’t producing anything in our lives worthwhile.
If spiritually, we are just drifting along, taking pleasure in the things of this world, in place of or over and above taking pleasure (delight) in our Lord, then we are opening ourselves wide to falling into sin.
If our “faith” in Jesus Christ is more of a religious experience involving some religious practices, but Jesus hasn’t really become Lord of our lives, then we are also vulnerable to temptation to giving in to sensual indulgences, especially during times such as we are now living.
Sin begets sin. If we are being unfaithful to our Lord in small things, we leave that door open wide to be unfaithful to him in even greater things if we do not guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus against sin, and if we do not bathe our hearts and minds in things which are pure, right, and true.
So what begins, perhaps, as seemingly harmless and innocent, can skyrocket into something far worse with much greater consequences because we didn’t take God and his word seriously, and we thought we could just coast along through life living to please and to entertain ourselves. So, what begins small grows bigger, and bigger and bigger.
Making sin Your Practice
And, then what happens is that those who have been overtaken by temptation to sin begin to make it their practice, instead of practicing holiness and godliness, because you end up becoming what you feed. If you feed your minds with the junk of this world, that is what you will produce. But, if you are feeding your minds with the things of God – things which are above – then that will bear good fruit for the kingdom of heaven.
But, those who are feeding their minds with junk, who are just coasting along, they will tend to increase in sinful practices. They will likely become deceitful, crooked, and perverse, because they are just drifting through life with no real goals or direction in mind.
And, then they begin hiding their sins in secret, and they cover up their sins with lies. And, the wickedness increases. And, more and more they give in to crossing over God’s moral boundaries, to partake in what is evil, because they reject the boundaries he set for us for our good and for our protection.
And, the problem here, too, is that those who are just coasting spiritually, because they are not depending on the Lord, they end up depending on the flesh, which is bound to fail them. And, so the temptation coming against their minds becomes overpowering, and so they end up yielding, because those necessary guards were not in place, because they were not feeding their minds with the things of God, but with the things of the world.
And, thus, these people end up lowering themselves to what is debase and dishonorable; to lowering what ethical standards they thought they may have had, by behaving in a self-centered and despicable manner. And, this is because they let their emotions get the best of them, and thus they let the temptations of their minds overtake them, and thus they give in to what is dishonorable, vile and wicked.
Garbage in Garbage out
So, the moral of this story is “garbage in, garbage out.” We will become what we regularly take into our minds.
If we are feeding our minds with the truth of God’s word, and if we are responding to that truth in obedience, and if we are making the Lord our trust, and not the flesh of man, then we are able, in the power of God, to walk in purity and holiness.
But, if we are feeding our minds with junk, waste, immorality, sexual stuff, lies, impurity, filthiness, fear mongering, and what is vulgar, etc., then that is what is going to impact how we think, what we believe, how we feel, and our attitudes and our behaviors. And, this includes the news and social media, too, for there is much in the way of filth and lies and fear mongering in those places, too. What we take in is what comes out.
So, fill your minds with what is praiseworthy, holy, pure, righteous, truthful, godly, moral, and honorable, and let these be what you focus your thinking on, and let these be what guide your behaviors, too, for the glory of God.
O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth
Author: Samuel Medley (1789)
O could I speak the matchless worth,
O could I sound the glories forth
Which in my Savior shine,
I’d soar, and touch the heav’nly strings,
and vie with Gabriel while he sings
in notes almost divine,
in notes almost divine.
I’d sing the precious blood he spilt,
my ransom from the dreadful guilt
of sin, and wrath divine:
I’d sing his glorious righteousness,
in which all perfect, heav’nly dress
my soul shall ever shine,
my soul shall ever shine.
I’d sing the characters he bears,
and all the forms of love he wears,
exalted on his throne:
in loftiest songs of sweetest praise,
I would to everlasting days
make all his glories known,
make all his glories known.
Well, the delightful day will come
when my dear Lord will bring me home,
and I shall see his face;
then with my Savior, Brother, Friend,
a blest eternity I’ll spend,
triumphant in his grace,
triumphant in his grace.
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