What does the Bible say about pure thoughts (Philippians 4:8)? 

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Philippians 4:8

About pure thoughts, the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Church, “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.”

The forming of Christian character necessitates correct thinking. Therefore, Paul outlined a good program of mental practice. The phrase “whatsoever things are true” refers to all that is morally and spiritually good that is compatible with God, who is “the truth” (John 14:6). This stems from understanding His holy nature which is honest, just, blameless, and above reproach. 

The Christian is to think of pure thoughts. Although sexual purity is included in this word, the meaning should not be limited to only that. For example, the Christian should also have pure desires, ambitions and motives (Matthew 5:8). He should dwell on that which is lovely, reputable, commendable, and those things that harmonize with Christian ideals for praise and  virtue. Instead of thinking about his problems or worry about his daily needs, he should focus his mind on the good virtues. 

Blessed are the pure in heart

In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Jesus was not referring to ceremonial purity (Matthew 15:18–20; 23:25) but to the cleanness of heart. For He said, “It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart” (Mark 7:15).

To be “pure in heart” does not mean that one is absolutely sinless, but it does mean that a person has pure thoughts and good motives. It means, that by the grace of God, he has forsaken his old life, and is moving toward the mark of perfection in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13–15). He has repented of sin and his life is fully consecrated to God (Romans 6:14–16; 8:14–17). And he will think on, “The words of the LORD which are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6).

The first effect of sin is to corrupt the mind. The devil first blinds men by convincing them to believe that committing sin will open their eyes and give them clearer vision. However, sin leads to blindness. Sinners “have eyes,” but they “see not” (Jeremiah 5:21; Isaiah 6:10; Ezekiel 12:2). When the “eye” of the soul is “pure,” the life will be full of “light” (Matthew 6:22, 23).

Many believers may become spiritually weak in their attempt to keep one eye fixed on heaven and the other on the pleasures of the world (Hebrews 11:25) and the lusts of Egypt (Exodus 16:3). Thus, to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted (James 3:17).

Therefore, a believer must strive to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). And he must cultivate pure thoughts (1 Timothy 5:22) “as a pure bride to one husband—Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2) and live “just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

Finally, when the believer focuses on God, he will see Him through the eyes of faith; and ultimately, in the glorious kingdom, he will see Him face to face (1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4). To reach that goal, the believer must hide God’s Word in his heart so that he would not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). And pray with David, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. . . . Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:7–10).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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