Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy— meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
Just as the soil acts as the largest natural filter to protect the quality of earth’s waters, and the ocean operates as an air filter that absorbs pollutants, so does “mind filter” help to keep thoughts right. As citizens of heaven, how then do we filter our thoughts from worldly contaminants? It is by applying The Philippians Filter.
The Word of God says in Philippians 4:8: “Finally brethren, whatever are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. Righteous living requires righteous thinking. We are therefore instructed to follow the God-breathed criteria of thinking nobly, justly, purely, lovely, fairly, virtuously, and praiseworthily in whatever circumstance. But every so often, this fallen world tries to trap us into accommodating ideas that have tendencies to contaminate our thinking – in subtle ways we do not even realize.
Thought Pollutant Sources
Ecologically speaking, pollutant is the introduction of substances into the environment which damages the quality of air, water, and land. In the spiritual sense of the word, however, pollutant is the introduction of negative elements into the mind which destructively affects one’s thought patterns. If left unchecked, thought pollutants could result to thought impurity by clouding and distorting knowledge of Biblical Truth. It is then important to identify three of the most potential sources of thought pollutants.
The secular music industry boasts a wide array of genres that thematically talk about things as heavy as drug dependence, personal frailties and speaking curses; as dark as hatred, anger and division; as self-centred as pride and self-entitlement; as desperately sentimental as unreciprocated human love, despair, incontrollable physical attraction and obsession; as inappropriate as out-of-marriage physical intimacy, cheating or being cheated and illicit rendezvous; as defiant as supporting gender confusion and identity-crisis; to as irreverent as blaspheming and blaming God Almighty then mocking the Lord Jesus. Yes, songwriting is a God-given talent but when done in an unfitting way it brings nothing but poison as it influences thought patterns that stimulate undesirable responses such as violence, hopelessness, depression, aggression, rage, conceit, vanity, immorality, and rebellion especially so when human emotions are attached. Worldly music is like a giftbox covered in fancy packaging – catchy and melodious. And the flesh is drawn to what is worldly, unaware that beneath the fancy wrapper lurk dark messages that God hates.
This source includes television, films, novels, books, magazines, video games, photography, visual designs, mobile phones, and the cyberspace (social media platforms, online websites, digital channels).
In Science and Technology, there has never been knowledge explosion known to mankind like the day and age in which we are living. But the same holds true with visual media – there has never been as utterly graphic a period in media compared to our present era. Through the years, the intensity of visual media contents has worsened in such a way that the world now considers it normal to watch paranormal on the big screen; that it is alright to defile one’s body and post it via the internet to gain likes; or that it is okay to look at other people defiling their own bodies being shown on viral dance videos. Today’s generation also screams crazy-in-love about that literature chronicling the story of a young boy ordained into sorcery; or the observance of that yearly outdoor event in which the supposed rights to live the kind of gender orientation one has according to his/her feelings (born males claim to be they are females and vice versa) and not in accordance with God’s Will is being demonstrated through worldwide parade. Electronic Games (or E-Games with emphasis on combat fights) depict violence; newscasts broadcast killings and murder coverages, while television shows along with digital channels put celebrities on the pedestal to be idolized. Lastly, photographs with explicit subjects are printed on magazines, uploaded on the web, or seen on tabloids. God blessed us with eyes to see the beauty of His creation, but what beauty does this fallen world hold if the visible keys it offers are nothing more but visual indications of a corrupted world system?
Time-honoured Traditions and Festivals
Over the course of time, this fallen world had learned and been conditioned to do a customary holiday countdown as people would instinctively know when a particular holiday is coming not only because calendars confirm the date but that the environment per se show it. For instance, during Halloween, certain mall areas are dressed in ghastly decors and filled with ghostly figures. Well, the hype continues with innocent children excitedly doing some trick-or-treating and pumpkin carvings while older folks enjoy wearing scary costumes coupled with the idea that the creepier, the better. And let us not leave behind this fallen world’s yearly impression that celebrating the birth of the Mesiah is identical to being visited by Santa or that boys and girls must behave well at least “during this period” so their names are displayed on the “nice list” worthy to receive gifts. Equally worse is the fact food has now been taken to a new level – it is now idolized. How? Food is the apparent icon in the dining room that instead of praying Grace people rush to take selfie with what is on the dinner table so it could be posted on social media paired with a hashtag blessed – what an irony.
Applying the Philippians Filter
It could be seen then that the mind is akin to a sponge – soaked in an environment where a free flow of information is available, it will absorb anything that enters it whether knowingly or unknowingly. For example, have you ever heard of the term Last Song Syndrome where a line or two of a secular song plays over and over inside your head? Or have you ever seen something visually vulgar which caught your attention and made an impact in your brain or got stuck in your memory as it stirred your human curiosity? Or have you ever noticed how most people would imitate each other by looking forward to Yuletide Sale only to be caught up with the hustle and bustle then end up murmuring complaints right after because funds have been depleted due to excessive purchase? Bottomline is, without “mind filter” it would be so easy for contaminants to affect and taint our thought process.
As Born-Again Believers, we are called to live a life set to the highest standards – a life lead by the Holy Spirit. We are set apart from this world even to the smallest details of our choices on what music to play and listen to, what we allow and disallow our eyes to see, and what we choose to conform or not conform to. It is therefore right to constantly examine ourselves if the things we think pass the Philippians 4:8 test. Why? It is because anything that is untrue, dishonourable, unworthy of respect, not confirmed by God’s Word, impure and unwholesome, not peaceable, unlovely, not of good repute, not excellent and unpraiseworthy is un-Christlike so we must be careful not to be contaminated.
The Philippians Filter teaches us never to compromise with the things that this deceptive world bids. As this God-breathed criteria serves as our mind filter, we are thus reminded of our new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians. 5:17) so our minds must be set on things above (Colossians 3:2). We have the choice to steer clear from the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1); to abstain from what displeases our Heavenly Father (Ephesians 4:30); and to avoid that which would make us abandon our intimacy with the Lord (James 4:8). If a song promotes evil thought, ill-speech, and sinful acts we should not be listening to it in much the same way that we should not be patronizing music artists who blaspheme God because as citizens of heaven, we take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them (Ephesians 5:11). If what our eyes view, read or watch promote immoral lifestyle and wicked ways we should not be fixing our sight on these because as the body of Christ, we are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). If an occasion promotes secular activities that involve twisting the sacred Scripture, we must not feel well-adjusted to the extent we get conditioned to conventionally follow it because as God’s redeemed people, we are instructed not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that by testing we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). When confronted with the challenge of facing mind pollutants, our mental approach should not be to get curious, check on it and observe whether the contaminant would change our thinking pattern or not. Rather, it would be helpful to understand that secular music, visual media, and time-honoured traditions could become portals (gateways) of the defeated enemy to sow seeds of doubt and deception and eventually steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) if we support materials and activities aimed to damage us. So, before curiosity lure us into checking and testing waters which sooner or later develops into a habit, we must guard our heart, for everything we do flow from it (Proverbs 4:23). Remember too that our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
As Spiritual Sword, we take Philippians 4:8 and use it as our infallible rule of faith and practice: Firstly, to think what is true (the Word of God) rather than the lies Satan would have us believe; Secondly, to dwell on what is noble and right (living in the Righteousness and Perfection of Christ through His shed Holy Blood) so our actions will follow our thoughts; Finally, to feed our minds with whatever is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (removing things that are opposed to God’s ways by the power of the Holy Spirit) paving the way for our minds to be filled only with things acceptable to the Father of lights.
Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings.
Be careful little feet where you go.
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow.
Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise the end is always near.
(Slow Fade by Casting Crowns)