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The Right Kind of Thinking

[Obviously, this study is not exhaustive. Expand it as much as you wish, by adding other passages you find in the Word! Check the context of the verses. There are often many insights to be found as one studies the relationship of nearby verses to the ones that have our primary focus. (The verses below are summarized, NOT quoted.)]

[After studying this, you may wish to review the questions a second time. Sometimes verses may be relevant to other sections, in addition to the ones they are found in.]

PART 1: Bad Thinking

PART 2: What We Need to Do about It

PART 3: Good Thinking - Our General Perspective

PART 4: Good Thinking - an Essential Aspect

PART 5: Precautions to Be Taken During Self-evaluation

PART 6: A Few Comments about God's Thoughts, Compared to Ours


PART 1: Bad Thinking


A. It Is a Futile (Meaningless, Empty, Valueless) Way of Thinking

Psalm 94:11 (also quoted in 1 Corinthians 3:20)
The Lord knows the futility of people's thoughts.

Romans 1:21
(Because people turned against God) their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts/minds became filled with darkness. (The reference is to humanity as a whole - all of us.)

B. It Is Related to a Corrupt, Sinful Nature (The "Flesh")

Ephesians 2:3
(Before God saved us) we used to do the things our corrupt nature wanted - doing whatever it desired or thought about doing.

C. It Is a Reflection of What Is in the "Heart" ("Heart" includes intellect, will, emotions, etc.)

Matthew 15:19
Out of the heart come evil thoughts (and all the other things listed in the verse). [See also: Mark 7:21]

D. We must No Longer Live this Way; We must Turn from Our Evil Thoughts and Ways

Ephesians 4:17
You must no longer live like the Gentiles (the unsaved) do, with minds filled with futile, empty thoughts.

Isaiah 55:7
The wicked must forsake his ways; the evil person must forsake his thoughts. (Turn to the Lord...)


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PART 2: What We Need to Do about It


A. "Clothe" Ourselves with Jesus: Allow Him to Influence All Our Thoughts [Also translated: "put on" Jesus (just like putting on clothes).]

Romans 13:14
Clothe yourselves with [or "put on"] the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not think about how to gratify the sinful nature's desires.

B. Grow-up in Our Thinking (Have Mature, Rather than Childish Thinking)

1 Corinthians 14:20
Stop thinking like children, ...but like adults (mature). Of course, as far as evil is concerned, be "infants" (that is, be "inexperienced")!

C. "Capture" Our Thoughts to Make Them Obedient to Christ

2 Corinthians 10:5
We must attack all false thinking that opposes knowledge of God. We must "capture" every thought to make it obedient to Christ.


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PART 3: Good Thinking - Our General Perspective:
We must Focus Our Attention on Anything/Everything That Is Good


A. Thinking about Excellent and Praiseworthy Things ["Excellent" can also be translated as: "virtuous, good or right."]

Philippians 4:8
Think about anything that is excellent and worthy of praise. (a list of 6 good qualities is also given) [See also v. 9, which focuses on our actions.]


Comments & Questions:

  1. Examine the context surrounding the verses listed in the "bad thinking" section. Do any of the passages suggest how to replace the bad thoughts with good ones? Do any of them give examples of good thoughts to have?

  2. Learning the ways of wisdom. [We must pay attention to its "rebuke" of our wrong ways.]
    • Proverbs 1:23 - If you had paid attention to my rebuke, I would have ... made my thoughts (or words) known to you.
    • The early chapters of Proverbs describe the benefits of learning the ways of wisdom. [In this verse (1:23), wisdom is personified, and those who are unwilling to pay attention are being rebuked.] Do you want to learn the ways of wisdom? Explore the book of Proverbs! After all, wisdom should influence ALL our thinking! Two things you can look for are: 1) the contrasts between words such as wisdom and folly (and similar concepts), and 2) other concepts which are associated with being wise.

  3. The two greatest commands involve love for God and love for neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). Scripture gives us many instructions in how we can fulfill our obligations. What are some of the commands and obligations we have, a) toward God? b) toward people (including both friends and enemies)? These would be good things to think about! How can you apply them to your life?

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PART 4: Good Thinking - an Essential Aspect:
We must Focus on God and What He Has Done


A. Thinking about God / Jesus Christ

Psalm 63:6
I think of you throughout the night. [This word "think" is often translated "meditate."]

Hebrews 3:1
focus your thoughts on Jesus...

B. Thinking about What God Has Done in the past (Things Done among Other People) [Context: During Trials]

Psalm 77:5
I thought about the days of long ago...

Psalm 77:10
[This passage occurs during a transition between the psalmist's doubts and anxiety, and his confidence and trust. So interpretations vary, depending on which aspect the translator believes this verse is connected with. With either interpretation, we finally reach the same conclusion!]
  • If connected with the doubts and anxiety of vs. 7- 9: The psalmist is wondering if God's "right hand" still works in mighty ways, as it did in the past. By v. 11, he reaches the conviction that God does still work in such ways.
  • If connected with the hope and reassurance of vs. 11-12(+): He is reflecting on what God did in the past, and beginning to realize that God's mighty works in the past provide a basis for trusting him in the present.
  • Psalm 77:11
    (An expression of trust in God): I will remember the deeds / miracles that the Lord did long ago... [Perhaps this idea is implied: The God we can trust today is the same God they were able to trust back then. And he has not changed.]

    C. Thinking about What God Has Done in the past (Things Done in Our Own Lives) [Context: God saved us when we were "nobodies" - as viewed by the world.]

    1 Corinthians 1:26
    Remember the type of people you were when God saved you. Not many of you were wise (by human standards), or influential, or of noble birth. [Just think... The fact that he was willing to do this is an expression of his love for us!]/

    D. Thinking about What God Will Do in the Future (Jesus' Return and the Coming Judgment)

    2 Peter 3:1
    I have written these letters (1 Peter and 2 Peter) as reminders to encourage you to have correct thinking (or: a mind that is working in a "pure" or accurate manner). [In the case of 2 Peter, the "correct thinking" had to do with the certainty and significance of Jesus' second coming (v. 2+). And if you are experiencing trials, think about 1 Peter, which tells us that our present suffering will result in glory and joy when Jesus returns.]


    Comments & Questions:

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    PART 5: Precautions to Be Taken During Self-evaluation
    [in addition to what is mentioned in the previous sections]


    A. The Need for Self-evaluation; the Need for "Considering One's Ways"

    Proverbs 14:8, 15; 21:29
    The upright, sensible person gives thought to (considers/understands) his ways. [contrasted with how the wicked, foolish, or simple-minded act]

    B. Having Sober Judgment, Rather than Highly-inflated Thoughts [About Self]

    Romans 12:3
    How to think of yourself: NOT more highly than you ought, but with sober judgment - based on "the measure of faith." (See comments below.)

    C. A Warning Against Inflated Thoughts about Our Intellectual Capabilities (Knowledge about the Bible) Especially When Love Is Absent. (See the context.)

    1 Corinthians 8:2
    The person who thinks he knows something [and is proud of it! - v. 1] doesn't yet have the type of knowledge he really needs.

    D. The Danger of “Falling” from a Good Evaluation

    1 Corinthians 10:12
    Those who think they are standing firm need to be careful, lest they suddenly fall down! [context: learning from the examples of others.]

    E. The Danger of Self-deception

    Galatians 6:3
    Those who think they are something, when they are nothing, are only deceiving themselves.


    Comments & Questions:

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    PART 6: A Few Comments about God's Thoughts, Compared to Ours


    A. God's Thoughts Are Higher than Ours; We Cannot Fully Comprehend Them

    Isaiah 55:8-9
    God's thoughts are as much "higher" than ours, as the heavens are higher than the earth.

    Romans 11:33
    The riches of God's wisdom and knowledge are deeper than we can fathom; his judgments and ways are greater than what we can comprehend.

    B. He Knows All about Us and Will Someday Judge Us According to His Word

    Psalm 139:1-4
    You know all about me; you know my thoughts, all the things I do, and everything I say (before I say it).

    Hebrews 4:12-13
    The word of God is living and active; it judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Everything in all creation is visible to God. And we will someday give account of our lives to him.

    C. God's Thoughts Have Been Made Known to Us (Some of Them)

    Amos 4:13
    The LORD God Almighty, the Creator and Ruler, has revealed his thoughts to people.


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    Dennis Hinks © 1998