YOU ARE WHAT YOU BELIEVE
Philippians 4:8 says, “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.” The Old King James version says, “Think on these things.” My friends in Christ and my friends out of Christ, what Paul said in that passage is great stuff. They are the Christian set of beliefs. These are the concepts and ideas for practical living. . If we discover these beliefs and make them a part of our life, the word of God makes the promise that the God of peace will be with us.
Restated, what Christians believe in, stand for, and do much meditating on are: beliefs verified to be true, respect for things honorable, whatever is just and right, high moral conduct, conduct worthy to be admired, conduct that is lovely and beautiful, and any other kinds of conducted that are excellent and praiseworthy. These are the beliefs that beautify the mind and character, and give us the peace of God that passes all understanding. What an excellent set of beliefs.
First, I would suggest to you that this passage teaches us the awesome power that is in what we believe, whether it is true or false, whether it is right or wrong and whether it is good or bad. We are what we believe, no more and no less. Habakkuk 2:4 says, “The just shall live by his faith.” Provers 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he?” These scriptures assert a mighty truth that we are what we believe, what we think or believe in our mind. .We live out of our faith.
Let me clear up something about the word faith. The word faith and belief mean exactly the same thing. It is difficult to convince people that faith is simply what they believe. The word fiath is found only twice in the Old Testament, and the Hebrew word means believe. The word faith comes from two Greek words; Pisteuo and Pistis. The verb Pisteuo is translated 233 times believe, and the noun Pistis is translated 239 times by the word faith. There is no difference in the verb form of a word and the noun form of a word. My old large Webster's Dictionary, which gives more derivation of English words than modern dictionaries, gives this definition of faith, which was a word of our ancestors long ago in England. Webster gives these definitions of the word. 1. The first is belief, the assent of the mind to
the statement or proposition of another. 2. That which is believed on any subject whether in science, politics or religion, especially a system of religious belief of any kind, as the Jewish or Mohammedan faith. We are indebted to Daniel Webster for enlightening us on this word faith. Faith is not a word restricted to the Christian religion.. There is Jewish faith, Mohammedan faith, Christian faith, There is faith in relatives, friends, teachers, preachers, college professors, scientists, political leaders etc. If you believe what they say, you have faith in them. Christendom in our day has added an additional meaning to this word, but it is only a traditional addition. It is now defined as the unquestionable belief in God and the Christian religion without evidence or proof. There is an idea abroad that faith is given to people as a supernatural gift of Christ and not something we arrive at by learning the truth. But this does not change the original and true meaning of the word as used in the New Testament. An unquestionable faith in God is simply an unquestionable belief in God. A deep trust in God is a deep belief in God. I took the time to consider these two words faith and belief because there is much misunderstanding on these two words. So I return to the first thought in the message. You are what you believe; you live out of the faith in what or who you believe in. Above all, it is important to know there is an awesome power in believing, for it makes us what we are, the kind of people we are.
Let me give you an example of the power of belief, and how it can affect our life.. I read of a true story about a man on a train crew who was accidentally locked in a refrigerator box car. The rest of the crew did not know he was missing and went home for the night. When the man realized he was locked in the box car, he began banging on the door until his fists were bloody. He shouted for help until he became hoarse and nearly speechless, but no one came to his rescue. Panic seized his mind and he said, “I'll freeze to death before anybody finds me.” In the box car he found a piece of a knife and painfully began carving a message on the wooden floor. It said, “It's so cold, my body is getting numb...If I could just go to sleep...these may be my last words.'
The next morning the body was found inside the locked refrigerator box car. Every physical sign indicated that the man had frozen to death. However, one thing greatly puzzled the investigators. The refrigerator on the box car was inoperative. It did not work. The temperature inside the car did not fall below 55 degrees. Their conclusion was, not the outer cold but it was an inner belief that killed the man. Whether or not that was the true cause of the m an's death, the fact remains that what we believe is more important than what we have or who we are. It is a well known psycho logical fact that what we believe can have great effects on the body.
. One of the most perplexing diseases of our modern society, if we may call it a disease, is a set of symptoms we call anorexia nervosa. This awful disease afflicts mostly women between the ages of 15 and 25. One of its most famous victims was one of the most popular and most talented singers of the last decade. He name was Karen Carpenter, and she had a beautiful voice. Another publicized victim was the daughter of a former basketball coach of Pepperdine University, and others could be mentioned. A woman with anorexia believes quite simply that she is too fat. It makes no difference what her body size is. You can show her an actual picture of herself an emaciated, shriveled-up piece of skin and body, looking much like those victims of starvation in Ethiopia. But she will still say, “I am too fat.” Millions are afflicted by an affliction very similar to anorexia. They look at themselves, study their physical characteristics and say, “I am an evolutionary descendant from he lower animals and my only destiny is annihilation at death.” Most of them will go to their death believing this falsehood, but but Jesus said, “If you believe not that I am He you will die in your sins.” Believing is an awesome power, even if what you believe is not true.. You can be the richest person in the world, as Howard Hughes was, and yet be a recluse hidden away in a dark and lonely hotel room, obsessed with fears that terrify you and will not set you free. You can be the most popular entertainer in the world, as Elvis Pressly was at one time, and yet live on hundreds of pills each day to ease an inner pain. All of these unfortunate afflictions verify the awesome power in believing. What you believe is more important than who you are or what you have. We are what we believe. Whatever they may be, we live out of our beliefs.
This mighty truth necessarily implies that we should all think seriously about our set of beliefs, what we believe about ourselves, what we believe about the meaning of life, what we believe about God, what we believe about Christ, and what we believe about the church Jesus purchased by the shedding of His blood and the giving up of His very life. God has richly blessed us with the gift of life. Are we using life in such a way as to show our gratitude to the Father of all mankind. The cause of God on this earth in the 21st century is the Christian religion. In supporting the cause of Christ, we are making this a better world for our children and grand children to live in after we are gone.
Finally, I would like to mention some the exceedingly important beliefs which belong to the Christian religion. I cannot elaborate on all the beliefs set forth in Philippians 4;4-9, but I will elaborate on the first one mentioned. Paul said, “Whatever things are true, ” This is one of things we are to think on. He was speaking of things about God, Christ, religion salvation, and heaven.
One of the great beliefs of the Christian religion is that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.” For Jesus to say, “I am the truth, “ is to say that when He was on the earth He was the truth incarnate. Jesus never spoke of His opinions or His views. He spoke with absolute authority and certainty. He was more than a religious expert. He said, “I am the truth.” Christians believe that whatever Jesus said on any subject is true and is to be believed. He brought to the remembrance of the apostles all the words He spoke on earth, and sent the Holy Spirit to guide them into all other truth He wanted Christians to know. One great Christian belief is that all Jesus said, and all the Apostles taught and wrote, is absolute truth and is not to be questioned.
Another great Christian belief is that to believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is the one and only way for mankind to get from earth to the place called heaven. To believe that Jesus died for mankind, arose from the dead, and ascended to heaven is one of God's requirements for admission into heaven. In spite of this divine requirement, there are some twelve world religions, including the Jewish religion, embracing billions of people, that do not believe in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ to heaven.
Most of the Jewish nation, God's chosen nation in olden times, have rejected Christ because they did not and do not believe that Jesus arose from the grave and was honored and glorified in heaven. The unbelieving Jews challenged the apostles to do something that would convince them. They said, “We know that He died, but we do not know that He arose from the dead. We did not see Him alive. We think He is still dead. Furthermore, we do not know that He is in heaven at the right hand of God. We did not see Him ascend to heaven, and we cannot look into heaven and verify his claim.” There are two ways you can convince us of the truth of the Christian religion. One is we believe He is still in the grave; so send someone to hades and bring him back from the dead\ , so that e can see him with our own eyes, and we will believe in Him. Or if He is heaven, as you Christians say, send someone to heaven and bring Him back to the earth so that we can see him, and then we will believe.” That was the belief of the Jewish people when the apostles lived, and they lived out their belief by rejecting Christ. This is also the argument of twelve other world religions.
Paul answered this argument in Romans 10;6-9, “Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven, that is, to bring Christ down from above., or, Who will descend into the abyss, that is to bring Christ up from the dead. But what does the righteousness which is of faith say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that is the word of faith which
we preach, that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
What Paul is saying here to the Jews and the whole world, you do not need scientific evidence, the evidence that comes from eyesight and touch to believe in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. All that you have to do is believe in the fact, of which we apostles and others were eyewitnesses. What God is saying is, the evidence is sufficient and no more will be provided. Take it or leave it. But all must believe ll believe in this historic fact. to be a citizen of heaven. God requires us to believe other things in order to become a Christian and go to heaven, but if one belief can be said to be more important than others, I think the belief that Jesus died, arose and returned to heaven will effect billions of mankind for better or for worse more than any belief that has ever been in this world. This belief will allow a person to become a Christian and allow an entrance into heaven. Again I say how awesome is the power of believing.
One more great Christian belief is that whoever lives and believes in Christ will never die. When Lazarus, friend of Jesus, was seriously ill, his sisters sent for Jesus, but when Jesus got there Lazarus had been dead four days. Martha said, “Lord, if you had only been here my brother would not have died. Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha replied, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day.” But Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live; and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” That is a question we must all answer.. What a great Christian belief! All who believe in Jesus and live in Jesus will come back to life after they die, and in their new resurrected state they will never die again. In other words after the general resurrection, all saved people will go to heaven and there will be no death in heaven. What do you believe? If Christ is not the Lord of your life, it's time for a change. If you believe these things we have studied, and are willing to make your life right with God by believing in Jesus, by a firm determination to turn from sinful living to godly living, by making the good confession that Jesus is the Divine Son of God and by being buried with Christ by immersion forgthe forgiveness of your sins. When you are raised from the water of baptism, you begin your new life in Christ. From this time, you will continue to believe and live in Christ.