Controlling Our Thoughts: Philippians 4:8, Part 1

Perhaps one of the biggest battles we face in life actually comes from inside of us – our thoughts. I have heard it said that we talk to ourselves more than anyone else does. How true that statement is! So, if we are talking to ourselves more than anyone else, how important it must be to evaluate what we are thinking about, what we are dwelling on, etc.

At Vision of Hope, we often seek to help our ladies understand the importance of taking our thoughts captive and not letting them run rampant (2 Cor. 10:5). When we have biblical thinking, then our beliefs, decisions, EVERYTHING will flow from that. It takes discipline and hard work, but the Word of God holds many resources to help us in our fight against sinful, destructive thinking. One passage we often teach through is the famous verse of Philippians 4:8. Let’s dig into this verse a bit together:

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. Philippians 4:8

This verse is so applicable as we seek to evaluate our thoughts and bring them under obedience to Christ! Within this little passage is a grid we can use to see if what we are dwelling on should be allowed to stay in our heads, or if we must fight against it and take the thought captive.

We often compare the application of this verse to a set of gates. The first gate is “true,” the second is “honorable,” then “right,” and so on. When we have a thought come into our heads, it must be able to pass through ALL of the gates of this verse before it is allowed to remain in our heads. So, we can ask ourselves, “is this thought true?” If so, then “is this thought honorable?” If at any point a thought cannot pass through a “gate” from this text, then it must not be allowed to remain in our heads.

Now, what do we do when we recognize that we are dwelling on something we shouldn’t? We must work to replace that thought with something – anything – that is God-honoring. This is where the true battle begins, and it’s hard work, but we must do what we need to in order to keep our thought life under control. We must not simply allow any old thought that pops up to remain in our heads without first evaluating whether it should remain there. So, whether it’s singing songs of worship out loud, reading psalms, quoting scripture, going through the alphabet and praising God for things represented by each letter – whatever we choose to dwell on to fight, it needs to be something that is first God-honoring, and also that requires some level of concentration. In time and with faithfulness in this fight, we will find that we can have freedom over our sinful or unbeneficial thoughts and their destructive outcome.

In the next several blogs, we will dig more into each “gate” from this verse, what that “gate” means, and some great, practical questions to ask ourselves in order to evaluate if our thoughts line up with the Word of God. Stay tuned! And for a great teaching on how to control our thoughts, check out this audio teaching from one of our board members, Amy Baker!

Bethany Dunn
Bethany heard about Vision of Hope while attending Word of Life Bible Institute in Florida. When she began praying about what God wanted her to do after graduating, He kept bringing Vision of Hope to her mind. Knowing that there was an internship available, Bethany applied, was accepted, and began her internship with VOH in July, 2012. Since then she has been amazed at the opportunities God has given her to learn more about His Word and how it applies to everyday life. Bethany now serves on staff at Vision of Hope.