Summary: The struggles we face as we journey with the Lord are varied and many. None are more difficult that the battles that rage within our minds. If we are to overcome spiritually, we must learn to win this battle from a biblical approach.
Preparing our Heart and Mind (Part 1)
Philippians 4: 4-9
As we walk this Christian journey, we face many challenges that we must overcome in order to obtain spiritual victory. While these challenges are many, coming from a variety of sources, none are greater than the battles we fight within our mind and heart. I have stated many times that I have more trouble with the flesh than I do any outside source of opposition. Along with the struggles of the flesh, come the battles that rage within the mind.
In order to better understand the teaching of Paul in these verses, one really must understand the make-up of the human body. While we only see the outward appearance, the physical flesh, our bodies are actually comprised of three parts – body, soul, and spirit. At the moment of salvation, our spirit is made alive in Christ our Lord. It is sealed unto the day of redemption. However, following salvation we continue to deal with the struggles associated with our body and soul. Most have a proper understanding of the body, and are even aware of the strong desires and lusts of the flesh. Many do not fully understand the soul of man. The soul is actually the seat of one’s intellect – the reasoning, will, and emotions of the body. It is through the soul that we feel, process information, and react to what we perceive. The soul is actually the mind of the body.
Whether we like to admit it or not, most of the battles we fight originate within the mind. Paul was well aware of this, and knew our heart and mind must be prepared for battle, as much, if not more than the flesh. 2 Cor.10:3-5 – For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Clearly he speaks of a battle that rages within the mind of the believer. Again consider his thoughts in Ephesians – For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, Eph.6:12. Paul knew Satan likes to attack the mind; and if we are to overcome these spiritual attacks, we must prepare and guard our mind.
As we will see, Paul deals with the heart and mind of the believer in our text. In order to overcome and enjoy victory, our heart and mind must be settled on the Lord and prepared to engage the enemy. Let’s examine the challenges within the text as we consider: Preparing our Heart and Mind.
I. An Appeal to Rejoice (4) – Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. This appeal deals with the heart and mind. Consider:
A. The Admonition (4) – Paul does not offer a suggestion that might be beneficial for them; he admonished the believer to rejoice in the Lord. He desired to believer to express their joy and cheerfulness in the Lord. Paul admonished them to be glad in the Lord.
If you remember our introduction, we discovered that many consider this to be Paul’s epistle of joy. Time and time again he speaks of joy and rejoicing in the Lord. In order to live productive and victorious lives, we must develop an attitude of joy.
B. The Expectation (4) – We are not Greek scholars, but it is interesting to note that the word rejoice is spoken in such a way to imply continual rejoicing. It literally means to go on rejoicing in the Lord. Paul even repeated the admonition – again I say, Rejoice.
Many tend to believe it is difficult to maintain an attitude of rejoicing. I fear they confuse joy with happiness. Bear in mind, Paul is bound in prison at this moment. The church in Philippi is facing opposition and great adversity. There is little to generate happiness at that moment, but happiness and rejoicing are not synonymous. Happiness is dependent upon outward circumstances, while joy comes from within. Paul may not have been happy with his current situation, but he found reason to rejoice in the Lord.
That eternal truth enables us to have the ability to rejoice in the Lord always. Our feelings will change. We often face circumstances in life that are difficult, depressing, and burdensome. We are forced to deal with changes in people. Maybe you have placed confidence in a particular individual, and yet they have betrayed your confidence. Happiness is often affected by change. However, we can always rejoice in the Lord because He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The difficulties of life that affect happiness do not alter our security in the Lord. Regardless what we face in life, we can rejoice in the Lord, knowing we are promised eternal life in Him! Rom.8:18 – For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 2 Cor.4:17 – For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. It may seem difficult at times, but it is possible to rejoice in the Lord always. We must prepare our heart and mind to rejoice in Him!