Obviously, there are many terrible things in the world that we cannot escape – and indeed we as Christians are called to be in the world but not of it – but that just means it’s especially crucial to keep our minds focused on things that mirror and reflect God’s nature and goodness. It actually goes further than just our thoughts – it means guarding our thoughts as well: being careful just what we willingly let in to our minds and hearts. As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
No, I may not have any control over things I see and hear in the world on a daily basis, but I can choose what I decide to fill my mind with on my own time. The music I listen to, the books I read, the conversations I take part in, the movies and TV shows I choose to watch – are they things that will help my thoughts have the characteristics Paul talks about in today’s verse? If not, I truly need to reevaluate what I am feeding my mind.
All Christians assume the responsibility of being an example of nonbelievers. It is an awesome task, but one we must assume. Christ call us to a life of perfection. Each day we should strive harder to be more perfect than we were the day before. With God's help, we can clothe ourselves in righteousness, thus sending the message that to be Christian means to be different from the rest of the world. In Christ we are made new. Our newness is a light for all the world to see.
Charles Stanley wrote about condemnation in some of his articles that I have read. He says that some believers are plagued by feelings of condemnation. Either they think they'll never live up to God's expectations for them or they're nearly drowning in guilt over past sins. These men and women cannot seem to shake the sense that God is displeased with their puny efforts at being Christlike.
The book of Romans confronts this lie head-on: "There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). When the Savior went to the cross on our behalf, He lifted the blame from our shoulders and made us righteous before God. Those feelings of condemnation do not belong to us; they are from Satan. He amplifies our guilt and feelings of inadequacy and then suggests that's how the Lord feels about His "wayward child." Nothing could be further from the truth. Our sins are wiped clean, and we are chosen and loved by God.
Condemnation is reserved for those who reject the Lord (John 3:36). Sin is a death sentence (Rom. 6:23). Anyone who chooses to cling to sin instead of seeking divine forgiveness must pay the penalty, which is an eternity separated from God. Two synonyms of condemn are 'denounce' and 'revile.' Those words certainly describe Jesus' statement to unbelievers in Matthew 25:41: "Depart from me, accursed ones."
A promise is valuable only if the one making it has trustworthy character and the ability to carry through. Our heavenly Father is truthful, faithful, loving, and all-powerful. We can base our entire life on His promises, secure in the knowledge that He will do just as He has said.