Peninsula Community Church
March 16, 2014
Philippians 4:8 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.
A number of years ago I took a course on counseling where the teacher focused a portion of her teaching on what she described as stinking thinking. What she was communicated was that we can so easily allow our thinking to be manipulated and distorted by faulty thinking, lies and distortions. Our thinking can become distorted through the outside voices of our lives. These are the words spoken to us by a spouse, a friend, a parent, a boss, and others. This also includes the words we speak to ourselves. These are the inward voices of condemnation and distortion about who we are, what we are becoming, and about the circumstance of our lives.
Faulty thinking are those lies and distortions that we have allowed to enter our mind and eventually into our heart. Once a thought has entered the heart, the heart directed to action by that thought.
The truth is, when we do not bring faulty thinking into captivity, we risk that thinking becoming a part of who we are. We risk having faulty thinking dictate our response to life. We risk having faulty thinking create a stronghold in us that refuses to allow the truth of God to settle within us. It fights against or it neutralizes the truth of God because of the power we give it.
What exactly is stinking thinking? Stinking thinking is a result of a truth being rooted in a false reality and/or deception. It is truth that has been distorted so that we are walking in deception and in blindness to the reality of God’s word and the way things could be and should be. Stinking thinking places more value on perception and distortion than on truth. Now let me say this to you. I understand that this thinking, at times, is all we know. It is all we understand. This is true because of the experiences we have had. This is true because of what we have been taught. This is true because of how our families trained us or what they modeled as truth. Sometimes, as a result of this we have been deceived to believe that there is no hope and that there is little or no way out of the bondage we find ourselves. While this is the way things are, it does not mean we have to stay in this place.
Let’s do an evaluation. And be honest. Are you a pessimist or an optimist. Is your glass half full or is it half empty. The problem too often is that even an optimist can be a pessimist at heart. They present a good front but when they are alone they beat themselves up and distort the truth about who they are. When you encounter a difficult issue what kind of thoughts do you have? When someone mistreats you, what kind of thoughts do you have? Do you live positively or negatively? Have you ever known someone who always considered the negative side of things or the worse case scenario on anything and everything. When confronted with a negative, do you throw your hands up in despair and believe there is no hope and all is lost. It is my belief, and I believe that scripture bears this out, that one of the tools that the enemy of our souls will use in the last days is despair and hopelessness. When we walk in despair and hopelessness, we will be distracted and miss the good that God is doing in us and through us which leads us into deeper confusion.
Before we move forward with this let me say that there is more to this than just adjusting our thinking. Changing our thinking must lead to a change of action. This requires us to get the truth established in our minds so that we act out the truth of God’s word. We must surround ourselves with the disciplines of right thinking, prayer, and study of the word. Our actions must be motivated to change and align themselves with God’s will or else we will miss the mark.
The apostle Paul is clear about where the focus of our thinking should be. Paul sets forth the parameters and the template through which we can begin to take every thought captive to the glory of God. Paul’s admonition is to think on the right things. Paul instructs us on how to change our thinking. We are to think or meditate on: what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
The first item on Paul’s list is to think on what is true. The root word for true means “constant.” It means to be found unwavering. It also means to be upright. Having this word first is not a mistake because the truth effects everything else. At least two realities are revealed. First, there must be a solid, nonnegotiable point of truth in our life. Our current society has made a tragic mistake in that they believe that truth has become relative to one’s own processes and what one thinks truth is. But, we must have a mooring for truth, or else we can believe anything and everything. We have people, yes even Christians who believe anything because they have had someone share it or say it and they take it face value. There is no filter for truth in their life.
Jack Graham in his book “Unseen” had this to say about this. He stated “The reason we need to focus on truth is that “for every action you take, your brain creates a neurological pathway that paves the way for familiarity, so that the next time you take that action, your mind already knows what to do.”
We also must resist the pragmatism of our culture, which determines truth by whatever works. If something works, which means, it brings you happiness (at least at the moment) or it accomplishes what you want, then it must be true. But God’s Word doesn’t always line up with what works. In fact, it’s clear that sin often brings pleasure for a season; if it didn’t we wouldn’t be so enticed by it.
It also means that we are not to be naive about life. He does not say to be positive thinkers, but we are to be truthful thinkers. We do not reject reality but rather we focus honestly and factually on the issues we face. Sometimes we need to ask ourselves a question. The thing that I am entertaining, is it true? Is that the way my spouse, my friend, my boss would act? Did they really mean that? Sometimes we continue to feed ourselves falsehoods and lies. We begin to entertain imaginations about others but we must meditate on what is truthful.
If we want to be a better person and have a better sense of life then begin with truth as a gateway to right thinking. This means we must eradicate the lies that are presented to us. Lies about ourselves. Lies about God. Lies about those with whom we are relationship with. Lies about our goals and reason for living. You see as fallen creatures we are subjected to Satan’s lies and deception. We are prone to self deception. Remember that the devil, sleuth foot, satan, whatever you call him is the master at distortion. He can take even precious spiritual traits and ideals and distort them so that we believe a half truth.
Listen to what John 8:44-47 has to say about this matter. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
How do we know the truth? We read the word of God because contained within these words are the ways of life. How to live. How to act. How to freely live. For that reason, we must pour ourselves into God’s Word and allow God’s Word to be poured into us. We should know the Word so well that we automatically run everything we encounter through the grid of God’s Word. However, if you go with the flow, you will be carried far from God’s absolute standard of moral truth as revealed in His Word.
Recently, someone shared a story about a letter they had received that devastated them. It had wounded them deeply because of the words written within the context of the letter. After we talked, I made a suggestion to them. If you do not need to keep the letter throw it away because every time you read it, it will cause a negative reaction. If you feel you do need to keep the letter, put it in an envelop, seal the envelop, scotch tape it closed and never read the letter again unless you have to. In this way, the truth of God’s love and purpose cannot be distorted in your life.
As I close, let me ask you what things do you need to throw away? What things do you need to seal away so they do not impact your heart or mind again? What kind of unhealthy thinking do you have. Let us pray.