Sermons by Marlin Harless

HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

"FOR AS HE THINKETH IN HIS HEART, SO IS HE…"
(A MAN IS LITERALLY WHAT HE THINKS)
(Text: Proverbs 23:7)
By Marlin L. Harless

INTRODUCTION: The aphorism, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…" not only embraces the whole of a man's being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life! A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts! "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee" (Proverbs 23:7).

As the plant springs from, and could not be without the seed, so, every act of man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called spontaneous and unpremeditated as to those that are deliberately executed!

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength: Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 26:3,4; 55:6-9).

A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but it is the result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long cherished association with Godlike thoughts. "But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (2 Corinthians 3:18;Galatians 4:19).

I. MAN IS MADE OR UNMADE BY HIMSELF!

In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace!! By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine standard of perfection; and by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast!! Between these two extremes are all the grades of character!!

CONSIDER VERY CAREFULLY THE FOLLOWING: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19; Joshua 24:15).

"And she said, behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister-in-law "And Ruth said, intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for wither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:15-17).

II. Man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny!!! Compare the following: "That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (Acts 1:25; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).

III. PAUL'S PARTING WORDS (COUNSEL) TO HIS BELOVED PHILIPPIAN CONVERTS IN (Philippians 4:8): "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Paul is speaking of subjects for Christian study or themes for thought!

IV. THE EXEGESIS OR EXPOSITION OF (Philippians 4:8).

Of these six heads, the first two describe the subjects of devout thought as they are in themselves; the second pair relate to practical life; the third pair to the moral approbation which the contemplation of a holy life excites in good men!

V. THUS, WE HAVE SUBJECTS OF CHRISTIAN CONTEMPLATION

There is a certain order in the series here exhibited. Things that concern us absolutely. (a) "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest." Things true, that is, true as opposed to false; for lying is a breach of the social contract. "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another." (Ephesians 4:25). True as opposed to insincerity; true in speech, true in conduct. Truth is the ground of all God's commands and the ground of our obedience.

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the father, but by me. (John 14:6). Above all, remember the love of truth is imperative!! "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they might believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12,) Compare context. The only cure for the preceding virus, is the blood of Christ: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 peter 1:18,19).

A MAN IS VERY MUCH WHAT HE THINKS; THEREFORE MAKE HONEST THEMES THE SUBJECTS OF YOUR DEEPEST THOUGHTS. Grave things strengthen and deepen Christian character and intensify Christian feeling. Character formed on such a basis will be dignified! "For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men" (Romans 14:18).

Things that concern us relatively: (b) "Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure". Things just or righteous. Justice maintains right relations between man and man, coordinates the rights of each with all! Justice is peculiar in this respect, that there are no degrees of it, as there are degrees of goodness or generosity; for a man less than just is unjust!!! "Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?" (Jeremiah 22:15).

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. To whom I answered, it is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him" (Micah 6:8; Acts 25:16).

THINGS PURE. Not merely chastity, but purity in the widest sense! There must be pure thinking, pure reading, pure action. Let the mind dwell on pure things!! "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves so not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 5:8; Colossians 3:2;Matthew 6:19-21).

Things that suggest moral approbation from the outside: (c) "Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report." These two themes mark the impression made upon the world. Things lovely. They suggest the kindly graces of character. There is such a thing as being dignified, majestic, and venerable, (but not lovely)! E.g., An unlovely temper, an eye severe and unkind, a brow hard and stern!! Consider the following:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling symbol. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

THINGS OF GOOD REPORT: "Well spoken of among men, and so bringing a good name. Here the word denotes things in their true nature so excellent that to name them is a good and sacred thing---fair-sounding 1 Not merely having a fair sound to the popular ear, but fair-sounding, as implying essential worthiness. "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" (Colossians 4:5; see "Thompson Chain-Reference bible," Text Cyclopedia # 2355-9)

CONCLUSION: We should be very discreet about that which we think, because the mind is a very precious thing to waste!!! Are you sure of your eternal salvation? You can not be sure, if you have not '"obeyed the gospel" of Christ! To become a Christian, one must: (1) Hear the gospel, (Romans 10:14), (2) Believe the gospel, (Mark 16:16), (3) Repent of past sins, (Luke 13:3), (4) Confess Christ before men, (Romans10:9,10), (5) Be baptized or immersed for the remission of past sins, (Romans 6:3-6), (6) Be faithful until death, (Revelation 2:10). Beloved, will you do it Today! Today! today? "…Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation…" (2 Corinthians 6:2c).

ENDNOTES:

1 To the best of my knowledge, this sermon is based, in part, at least, on an article by brother Batsell Barrett Baxter in the early fifties, moreover, some lessons, are unfortunately, revised or altered, without the permission of the author!

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

1. The King James Version of The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, The Fifth Improved Edition

2. The American College Dictionary

3. The American Heritage Dictionary

4. The expanded Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

5. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

6. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

7. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament

8. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

(Telephone number: [304] 247-6895; E-Mail address: mlharless@kvinet.com Dear reader: In the event you find errors in this sermon, spelling, misquotes, scripture references, etc., please inform me of same at your earliest convenience, as I intend to be as accurate as possible! Thank you! (MLH)



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