Reasoning by Abidan Shah, PhD

REASONING by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Some people are like Eeyore (from “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”), always pessimistic, gloomy, and glass half-empty kind of character: “If it is a good morning, which I doubt” or “Thanks for noticing me.” “It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.” Others go to the opposite extreme and try to be like Tigger, optimistic, bouncy, and glass half-full kind of character. Neither extreme is beneficial in the Christian life. Today, in our message titled “Reasoning,” we’re going to learn from the Apostle Paul how to reason our minds to a higher perspective. Main point: Sometimes, it is easy to take on a negative perspective on life, especially when it comes to people. In fact, our minds are naturally drawn to the bad reports, the breakdowns in relationships, the failures in others, and all the doom and gloom. God wants us to counter such thoughts and reason our way to the mind of Christ. It’s there we find the peace of God.

Philippians 4:8 “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.”

Context: Philippi was not an ordinary city. It was a Roman colony in Greece since 146BC. After the Battle of Philippi in 42BC, Mark Anthony’s army veterans settled there. About 10 years later, Octavian declared it as ius Italicum (Italian right), meaning Philippi was now on Roman soil. Although most of the people were Greeks from Thasos, Macedonia, and some Thracians from the north and northeast, the Romans owned most of the land and were in charge. So, most of the people spoke Greek, but the elite spoke Latin. How do you think that relationship was? Also, Philippi sat on the Via Egnatia, connecting Rome to Byzantium. This made it a very important city in the Roman Empire, and migrants came from the surrounding areas in Asia Minor, Egypt, and even as far as Palestine. These were quite different cultures. According to some estimates, 20% of the 10,000 or even 15,000 population were slaves. Again, don’t think of them as African slaves. Nonetheless, you can imagine the lack of trust and divisions among the people.

How about religion? All kinds of gods and goddesses have been found in Philippi, but the most dominant religion was the Imperial cult, the worship of the emperor and his family. Don’t misunderstand this. In Rome, religions were not about beliefs as much as they were about loyalty. By taking part in the religious festivals, one was claiming to be part of the culture, traditions, and social life of being a Roman. That’s why Jewish people were tolerated but treated with contempt because their views were incompatible with the “demands of their religion” (Cicero). More than likely, there was no synagogue in Philippi. Hence, Paul had to go by the river to find people praying. Also, when they arrested Paul and Silas, the charges were that – Acts 16      20 “…These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” Then they beat Paul and Silas and threw them in prison. The Philippians did not have the Jewish story of the past, and they didn’t want it either. In other words, they had a very different perspective on life.

In a city like this, the church was born! The charter members were a god-fearing woman named Lydia (maybe even Jewish) from Asia Minor and her family; a young girl set free from the demon of an ancient Greek myth about Python; and a Roman veteran turned jailer. Nonetheless, the Philippian church was Paul’s pride and joy. Listen to how he began his letter to them: Philippians 1:3 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Unfortunately, the Philippian Church was facing some problems. In fact, two big problems to be exact: Factions and Fears. We find this out by reading between the lines. Philippians 1       27 “…that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries…” In other words, be of one mind, and don’t be afraid of your opponents. If there are 2 things that will demoralize a church: factions and fears. In fact, they will demoralize any person, even a Christian.

Application: How about you? Have you been demoralized lately. Are you struggling in your outlook towards someone? Maybe it’s not a person but just life and situations. You try to be positive and see the best, but it works for a while but then you’re back at the same place. Are you ready for a change of perspective?

Among other things that Paul tells them, he exhorts them to have the mind of Christ.Few years ago, I preached a series through Philippians, especially chapter 2. It was titled “Mind Reset.” It was tremendously helpful to understand the mind of Christ. Listen again to Philippians 2        5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, (Better translation: who did not consider equality with God something to grasp) 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” What is the Mind of Christ?

  • The Mind of Christ is the mind of humility and humiliation. 
  • The Mind of Christ is the mind of obedience. 
  • The Mind of Christ is the mind of sacrificial living, even death. 
  • The Mind of Christ is looking to the Father for his perfect plan.
  • The Mind of Christ is trusting the Father for true vindication. 
  • The Mind of Christ is waiting for the inheritance on the other side.
  • The Mind of Christ is being more concerned with the salvation of a person than anything else. 

Unless we understand the mind of Christ, we cannot see people or situations differently. 

Application: Do you have the mind of Christ? Are you saved?

Here is an important clarification: We receive the mind of Christ when we are saved, but we must work out what God has worked into us.

One way to work out what God has worked in is by reasoning our minds to focus on the qualities listed in Philippians 4:8. Paul ends the verse with “meditate on these things.”The Greek word for reasoning is “logizomai.” Previously, Paul used the word “phronema,” which as a verb means “to think,” “to judge,” or “to set one’s mind on.” Now, he used “logizomai,” which means to “consider,” “think,” “ponder,” “reason,” “meditate.”In some sense, this is about focusing on the beautiful, inspiring, and profitable things, but it’s much more than that. We must take the time to reason regarding each of them as they are found in the life and work of Jesus Christ. He is the man from heaven who has demonstrated heavenly citizenship values. Only when we take the time to gaze understandingly at each of them through the mind of Christ that we can then look at people or problems and find a different perspective. Only when we fill up on these qualities/virtues through the mind of Christ that we can then take steps to handle our problems or face those people and have a different response than we typically do:There are 6 “hosa” clauses, or maybe even more. Again, we must see this list in light of the Mind of Christ.

  • Alethes – whatever things are true

People will lie to you or lie about you. The natural response is to confront them, and there is a place for that if it’s a legal matter. Having said that, it is far better for me to reason about truth in the person of Christ, who is part of the repository of all truth. I am referring to the Trinity. We know John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Also, Ephesians 4.    17This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:

Also, He also brought God’s true Word to us, the Bible.

  • Semnos – whatever things are noble

People will shame you or act shamefully towards you. Shame is the opposite of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” To the contrary, try 1 Peter 3:16 “having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

  • Dikaios – whatever things are just

People want to fight for justice, and there is a place for that. Having said that, think about Jesus, who took God’s justice and offered us mercy. Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Also, James 2:13 “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

  • Hagnos – whatever things are pure

People have faults, but there is only one who doesn’t. In his message, in Acts 3:14, Peter said, “But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you.” Luke 23:4 So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.”

  • Prosphiles – whatever things are lovely

Isaiah 53: 2b “…He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Jesus was common and yet he demonstrated glory.

  • Euphemos – whatever things are of good report

People want to know the bad report. Jesus brought the good report of salvation, especially as John the Baptist asked him.

  • Arete – if there is any virtue – Jesus demonstrated one godly virtue after another.
  • Epainos – and if there is anything praiseworthy – Revelation 5      11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

Principle: To rejoice, you have to choose to focus on your heavenly citizenship values.

Philippians 4:9 “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”

Question: What are you reasoning towards? Is it on the mind of Christ or is it on your own mind? Are you allowing others or circumstances to control your mind? Do you have the mind of Christ? Are you saved?

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