Powerful Passages, Pt. 6
The Proper Use and Cleaning of Our Biblical Mind Filter
Study Guide – October 23, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
One of the parts of machinery that is often overlooked when it comes to just how important it really is, is the filter; particularly the condition of the filter. The condition of the filter directly affects the power and efficiency and usefulness of the machine. All right, We get that…we clearly understand that. But what about in the ‘machinery of our own lives’ (if we could call it that), what is the filter in us?
First let’s look at the filter itself. Phil 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 moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” Holman Bible
This is one of the most powerful passages concerning what living as a Disciple of Christ actually involves. And regardless of how familiar we might be with this passage, just like the filter in machinery, we still often tend to neglect it, and we often overlook cleaning it…cleaning out our ‘BMF’ or our ‘Biblical Mind Filter’. And we’ll talk about that in a bit. But this ‘BMF’ is made up of eight parts; or God has given us an ‘8 Part Biblical Mind Filter’ through which we are to think and live as a disciple of Christ.
In a previous study we took a walk through each of the parts of this filter. So we won’t do that exactly in this study, but let’s point out some things about this filter, and then talk about the very important aspect of how we go about cleaning this filter in order to then be able to access more of the power of God’s working in us and our usefulness to God in Him working through us.
Let’s turn this around a little to get an idea of just what we are up against. One of the ways to get the impact of what the Scriptures are saying is to turn them around a bit. Here’s what we mean: As you are driving down the roadway of life each day, just how much is your filter exposed to, let’s say, things that are not true – things that are not honorable – things that are not just – things that are not pure – things that are not lovely – things that are not commendable – things that are not morally excellent – and things that are not worthy of praise? Well, how many days are there in a year? That’s about how often we are exposed to these things, right? In a prayer study that Randy Hebert and I were recently going over, we were talking about Randy’s Point Man Prayer Ministry and discussing how vital it is for Christians to focus more on prayer and to simply occupy their minds more and more with the realities of God’s world. And the study pointed out something very interesting about this ‘exposure to the world’ problem. It said, “It is quite natural and inevitable that if we spend 16 hours daily of our waking life in thinking about the affairs of the world, and 5 minutes thinking about God, then this world will seem 200 times more real to us than God.”
That’s quite a reality check. We hear a lot of talk about the ‘carbon offset’ concept, but what we really need to have in our life is a ‘Culture Offset’! We need to occupy our minds with a Biblical worldview over and above a ‘cultural worldview’, or rather, ‘a cultural worldly– view’. Remember what the Apostle Paul said about that? Rom 12:2- “Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” God’s Word Version
That would be a good question to ask people who have become converted to Christ: “So have you changed the way you think? And in what ways?” You see, the converted life in Christianity is centrally focused on continuing to convert our thinking to more and more of the kind of thinking described in the Bible, which is the mind of Christ. In order to not live like the world we have to not think like the world. Or, in order to live more and more like Christ, we have to learn to think more and more like Christ. And He reveals His way of thinking to us in His Word which He has given to us.
We have to ‘offset’ the distorted reality thinking of our culture by thinking according to the realistic revelation of God’s Word, the only true and accurate ‘worldview’. We especially have to think according to this ‘Biblical Mind Filter’ that God commands us to use, otherwise we will default to the faulty thinking of our culture which tends to dwell upon what is not true, not honorable, not just, not pure, not lovely, not commendable, not morally excellent, and not worthy of praise. If we don’t ‘offset’ that kind of thinking then our ‘Biblical Mind Filter’ will often be clogged up with these worldly attitudes and influences, which will in turn diminish our spiritual power and decrease our spiritual usefulness in living out our daily discipleship.
And now here’s the odd thing: Most Christians don’t set out to live a life of diminished spiritual power and decreased usefulness. Have you ever had anyone ever say that was their life plan? Like, “So what are your goals as a Christian?” “Well, my goals are to live a life of diminished power and decreased usefulness.” Of course that’s not their plan! But without a plan to think and live Biblically, then that is exactly the goals that they are going to reach. It’s like the old saying – “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!” Many Christians have spiritually ‘carbon cultured up’ their lives because they haven’t made specific goals to offset and overcome them by committing themselves to using the Biblical Mind Filter that God has instructed us to use and to regularly clean out.
So what if you asked a different question, like: “How do you go about using the ‘Biblical Mind Filter’ that God revealed to us and how do you go about cleaning it?” And then maybe get ready to answer their question of: “What in the world are you talking about?” Right? So first get very familiar with this passage of Philippians 4:8, so that you can describe this 8 part Biblical Mind Filter. And then get familiar with describing the cleaning technique, which the Bible also describes as the ‘practice of confession’.
No doubt you have heard other Christians say something like, “Well, if my sins have been forgiven by God, why do I need to confess them to God?” And whenever someone says something like that or thinks something like that, it reveals that they haven’t yet come to understand some very crucial things, like the difference between being forgiven from the eternal penalty of all their sins and being forgiven from the presence of their daily sins. Or they haven’t yet grasped the difference between Christ’s work in their salvation and in their walk in their sanctification. We see Jesus revealing this difference when Jesus was demonstrating servant-hood by washing the Disciple’s feet in John 13:6-10 – “When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “You will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to Me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean.” NLT
Jesus was teaching all of us disciples about the difference between being made holy once for all in our salvation, in our eternal relationship with God, and then living holy lives as saved people in our daily fellowship with God. When a person trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior he is ‘bathed all over’, as 1 Cor 6:11 points out: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” NASU This is speaking of our position in Christ, as saved, once for all time, from the penalty of our sins. We have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, or bathed all over, as Jesus stated. It’s also important to also point out that in that passage Jesus also said, “but not all of you”, as He was revealing that Judas was not converted, but the other Disciples were.
But now, since we are still in this world, and still wrestle against our old sin nature and against the ungodliness of this world that we are walking through, we still then need to be daily cleansed from the presence of sin in our lives in order to have close fellowship with God and to then be useful to God. Again, it’s like the cleansing of that filter in a machine so that it can function with the power and efficiency it was designed to have. And that takes us to the answer to the question of “how then do you go about cleaning this filter?” That answer is 1 John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” NASU
How wonderful of our Lord to provide this way of washing away this presence of sin from our lives in order to be more useful to Him, as well as more content and happy. And this discipline of confession is to be a daily discipline, a daily habit of ours. And note two things about this kind of confession. One, the confession is not a confession of sins in general. It is a confession of sins specifically. For if you only confess your sins in a general sense then you will fail to gain victory over any of your specific sins. So you and I need to confess our specific sins to God. And not just sins of commission, like self-pride, selfishness, envy, malice, rudeness, greed, grumbling…want me to stop? Yeah, we all get the picture of our need to get cleansed from these in our confession to God. But don’t neglect the sins of omission, like back to our Biblical Mind Filter. In whatever way that we have not obeyed God’s command to dwell on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise, then we need to confess that. Otherwise, this filter is going to soon get clogged up with things that are not true, not honorable, not just, not pure, not lovely, not commendable, not morally excellent, and not worthy of praise. We have to commit to washing out this filter and this presence of sin in our lives in order to grow closer in our fellowship with Christ and to then be more available and useful to Christ, and of course, like we pointed out, even to happy in our experience of life; as the only way to be happy in Jesus is to ….’trust and obey’.
But we said there is a second essential point about ‘confession’. In fact, if this element of confession is left out, then that confession is not Biblical confession at all. And what is that key element? Prov 28:13- “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” NASU You see, Biblical confession carries a ‘motive’ attached to it. And without this motive attached to it, then it is not Biblical confession. This motive is ‘to forsake’ the sin. It’s not just the identification of our sins that God is calling us to…it is the forsaking of them. God is not trying to make us smarter sinners; He’s trying to change us into wiser saints. When God calls us to daily confess our sins of things like self-pride, or selfishness, or from dwelling on things that are not true or not honorable or not worthy of praise and so on, what He is looking for is if this key element is attached to our confession. Are we confession our sins along with the intention of forsaking or turning away from practicing those things, with His power and sufficient grace to do this, of course? Again, Without this intention to forsake these sins, there can be no real cleansing from those sins. Instead, these things just simply continue to build up and clog up the filter of our minds and hearts, and we continue to think the way we thought before and do the things we have done before. That’s not spiritual transformation; that’s spiritual stagnation; mentally, emotionally, willfully.
But when we combine the confession of our sins with the intention of forsaking these sins we find not only God’s daily cleansing of those sins; we find God’s compassion in our experience. One of the greatest blessings in life is ‘feeling the pleasure of God’ in your life. And that sense of God’s pleasure comes through when a believer seeks to please God through daily cleansing their Biblical Mind Filter so that they can experience more and more of the power of God working in their life and the purposes of God being worked out through their life.
So take good care of your BMF. Your power for living and your usefulness to God depends upon it.