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Christian Philosophy - Study Guide

What is Christian Philosophy?
Lesson 1 - Outline

I. Every one of you has a philosophy—whether you realize it or not.
 A. Philosophy is simply the basic set of ideas, beliefs, and values that you live by.
 B. It’s your outlook, or the filter, through which you view life.
 C. Every piece of information that comes to you and every situation you face are filtered through your philosophy.
 D. In a sense, your philosophy predetermines your response to the things happening around you and the results you see in life.
 E. Yet many people are unaware of their philosophy.
 F. They have never combined their separate beliefs into a single value system through which they view the world and interpret life.
II. Pessimism and optimism are two simple examples of opposite philosophies.
 A. Pessimists look toward the future and expect the worst, while optimists hope for the best.
 B. You could sit a pessimist and an optimist side by side, expose them to identical circumstances, and the optimist would find some positive way to spin what has happened, while the pessimist would focus on the negative.
 C. The optimist would look for some opportunity to take advantage of the situation, and the pessimist would focus on the negative and be more likely to get depressed and discouraged.
 D. Philosophy is the reason identical situations can produce completely different responses in different people.
 E. Your philosophy filters every experience you have and every piece of information that comes your way.
 F. The Apostle Paul emphasized this truth to the Colossians when he warned them to be on the lookout for anyone who would “spoil” them through philosophy.
 G. A wrong philosophy causes wrong responses to circumstances, and it can cause you to draw wrong conclusions about events and information in life.
 H. Christians need a philosophy that is modeled after Christ and not after the traditions of men, vain deceit, or the principles of this world:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Colossians 2:8
 I. Paul was writing to Christians, but he had never ministered to the Colossians directly, and he wanted to make sure they had everything they needed to live the abundant lives God intended for them.
 J. Paul warned them to beware in case they didn’t get the full truth, because it would make them susceptible to all of the ways Satan tries to steal the benefits of the Word of God.
 K. His advice is just as applicable to us today as it was 2,000 years ago.
III. The English word “beware” in that verse means “To be on guard (against); be wary (of)” (The Houghton Mifflin American Heritage Electronic Dictionary [HMAHED])
 A. It comes from two Middle English words “be” and “war” (HMAHED), which is signifying to be at war.
 B. In a spiritual sense, many Christians are not heeding Paul’s warning to “beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy.”
 C. They don’t know they’re in a spiritual battle and that Satan is attacking their values every day.
 D. He is trying to get them away from the godly way of looking at things that is established in the Word of God.
 E. I believe the attack on Christian values is greater now than it has been at any other time in history.
 F. Television, radio, printed news, cell phones, and the internet are continuously parading the problems and philosophies of the world in front of us.
 G. We are being bombarded with the negative philosophy and thoughts of this world more than any generation of Christians that has ever lived, so it is especially important for us to be on our guard.
IV. Spoil means to carry off the plunder of war, or to carry a person off as a captive and slave.1
 A. In a battle, the victor strips the enemy of everything valuable, so Paul was using military terms to say, “Beware lest Satan take from you some of the things that God has given you!”
 B. God has already given us everything that pertains to life and godliness through knowing and having intimate relationship with Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:3-4), but we won’t experience those benefits if we allow the world to seduce us into viewing life from an ungodly, unbiblical perspective.
 C. Many people aren’t experiencing the blessings of God, because they believe the lies society is being bombarded with, and it is robbing them of victory.
 D. Christians are missing out on what Jesus has purchased for them, because they haven’t recognized that they are in a battle.
 E. Satan has come into many people’s lives and led them away captive, exactly as Paul warned he would: “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
V. The devil doesn’t overpower Christians—because he can’t.
 A. With Adam and Eve, he didn’t use a lion to overcome them and force them to obey.
 B. No, what he did was come against them with words and with thoughts, and he corrupted their way of thinking—that’s how original sin entered into this earth.
 C. This is exactly the point Paul was making to the Colossians, that they should look out lest somebody rob them of what Jesus had provided, seducing them with words and thoughts that corrupt their way of thinking.
 D. It’s not just changing their individual thoughts but their entire outlook on life, their worldview.
VI. Paul went on to say that we can be spoiled by “the tradition of men.”
 A. Traditions are tied in with our philosophies; i.e., ways of thinking and behavior that are handed down from generation to generation.
 B. It is “the handing down of opinions, doctrines, practices, rites, and customs from…one generation to another.”2
 C. Obviously, secular traditions present an ungodly perspective and are therefore an obvious threat to seduce Christians, but religious traditions can also keep us from experiencing God’s best.
 D. Not every religious opinion, doctrine, and custom that works its way into the church comes from God—some of them come from people who are mistaken or, worse, self-seeking and deceitful.
 E. During one debate with the Pharisees, Jesus told them they were making the Word of God of none effect through their tradition, which they had handed down, and they did many things like that (Mark 7:13).
 F. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day.
 G. They were trying to serve God, and by all outward appearances, they were. Yet they made their traditions—all of the customs and opinions they had added to the Word of God—equal to God’s Word.
 H. Jesus said that by elevating their traditions above the Word of God, they neutralized the positive power of His Word.
 I. The world, and even the church, are full of philosophies, vain deceit, and traditions of men that will carry you away captive if you aren’t careful.
 J. They will rob you of the blessings that Jesus purchased with His atonement.
 K. One of my goals is to expose those philosophies for what they are: deception from the Enemy.
VII. Everything in the Christian life revolves around the way they think.
 A. Proverbs says,
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
Proverbs 23:7a
 B. It’s as you think at the heart level—not a surface level.
 C. Surface-level knowledge is like the information you acquire when you go to school and learn stuff just to pass a test, but it never impacts you in a significant way— you might not even really believe what you learned.
 D. Back in school, you might have stored that information in your short-term memory so that you could pass a test, but there’s no way you could still pass those tests today.
 E. It was information you never meditated on or used, and it didn’t go down to the heart level.
 F. Heart-level knowledge is different, because Scripture says that as you think in your heart, that’s the way you are.
 G. In other words, your life is going in the direction of your dominant thoughts, or your dominant philosophy—not individual thoughts, but the pattern, or model, you have combined your opinions and life experiences into, which then shapes how you view the world.
 H. This is how your philosophy ends up determining your response to life, and how you will act.
VIII. “Beware!” Paul said, because if you let circumstances in this life affect you and create a response in you that is different from God’s outlook, then your wrong perspective is going to rob you of happiness and success.
 A. Once you establish a philosophy that causes you to prejudge situations, the same circumstances that caused you to come up with the philosophy in the first place are going to follow you wherever you go.
 B. You will filter everything that happens in your life through your philosophy, and it will make you prejudiced to see, hear, and find what you are looking for.
 C. You’ll form opinions, make decisions, and base your actions on the things that are happening around you, but if your philosophy is incorrect, then your conclusions are going to be wrong.
 D. This is exactly what is happening with so many people today.
  i. If you can’t maintain relationships, then I guarantee you have a wrong philosophy that is causing those results.
  ii. If you can’t succeed in business, even when you have ability and know you should be doing better, it’s because you have a wrong philosophy that is defeating you.
 E. Philosophies become self-fulfilling prophecies, and if you want to change the results in your life, you have to start by changing the way you think.
 F. Philosophy is relevant to your daily life, and establishing a Christian philosophy, or a godly way of thinking, will have tremendous benefit to you.
 G. It could literally revolutionize your life.
IX. Many people know separate truths from God’s Word, but they don’t combine the truths into a way of thinking that impacts their overall outlook on life.
 A. That’s why I joke that most Christians don’t let the Bible get in the way of what they believe.
 B. They are just tagging on truth after truth to some sort of hodgepodge system of thought, but there is no organization—no intentional effort to create a godly worldview.
 C. In other words, many believers do not have a solid Christian philosophy—they have a jumble of unorganized thoughts.
 D. Simply tacking on more and more separate truths to a wrong philosophy isn’t going to create a godly worldview.
 E. This is why some people can go to church for decades and memorize half of the Bible but never see any real fruit in their lives.
 F. You have to allow God’s Word to get down to the foundation of your philosophy, and to do that, you must make a deliberate effort to change the way you think.
 G. You have to renew your mind (Rom. 12:1-2).
 H. Individual truths are not going to change your philosophy unless you make the effort to embrace those truths.
 I. The Word says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), but it’s only the truth you know that sets you free.
 J. To be set free, you have to have more than a mere mental awareness of truth; you need a heart-level understanding.
X. Recently I was talking to some friends who told me they know people who have studied every one of my teachings, and they study the Word, but they still aren’t operating in faith.
 A. They could quote all of the things I say about trusting God, but they don’t trust God.
 B. The truths they have learned haven’t changed their philosophy, and I think that’s tragic.
 C. You have to get beyond merely possessing individual pieces of information.
 D. You need more than facts to set yourself free. You have to combine those facts, connect the dots, and pull them all together so that they change the way you look at life.
XI. We have a tendency to think that our problems are our problem, but they aren’t.
 A. Often, our problems are just symptoms of deeper heart issues.
 B. We’re looking for physical or natural reasons to explain why our lives are the way they are, but the condition of our lives is a result of the way we think—not what is going on around us.
 C. Outside forces have an impact on us for sure, but they aren’t the determining factor.
 D. The Apostle Paul said, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9).
 E. It’s the way we respond to what happens to us that determines the condition of our lives, and the way we respond is a direct result of our philosophies.
  i. If we just give money to people who have a poverty attitude, they will be poor again.
  ii. They need a new way of thinking, a new philosophy.
XII. The most important thing you will ever do is renew your mind and form a Christian philosophy, or a Christian worldview.
 A. Once you have a Christian way of looking at things, then your philosophy becomes a filter through which you see and experience life.
 B. Everything gets filtered through what God has said, and you see the positive instead of the negative.
 C. You’ll be encouraged when other people are panicking.
 D. You’ll operate in faith when other people are running scared.
XIII. I don’t deny the economic challenges out there, but I’m not a pessimist either.
 A. I’m not fearful and preparing for the worst-case scenario.
 B. Scripture says that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
 C. If you are secure in the Lord and you know God is your source—not this world system—then you can prosper while the whole world is falling apart.
 D. It doesn’t matter what condition the world economy is in, because the world economy isn’t your source—God is your source.
 E. My personal finances are prospering, and so is our ministry.
  i. While the stock market has been in decline, my portfolio has been increasing.
  ii. While many organizations are making cutbacks, our ministry is seeing the greatest growth and income we’ve ever seen.
  iii. We’re reaching more people with the Gospel than ever before, and things are working for us.
  iv. Our experiences are completely contrary to what the world is saying should be happening.
 F. The reason we are prospering is because I have a philosophy that is based on years and years of walking with God and seeing Him bring me through.
 G. My faith and hope are in the Lord—not in the world economy.
 H. My Christian philosophy causes me to filter information differently than the world does.
XIV. The dominant worldview in modern society is humanistic—which tries to explain life and truth purely from the perspective of what matters to humans.
 A. Humanism rejects God totally, but aspects of humanistic philosophy have worked their way into many Christians’ belief systems.
 B. Instead of filtering life from God’s perspective, many Christians are filtering life through mental reasoning.
 C. Instead of trusting in God, society is conditioning believers to lean unto their own understanding (Prov. 3:5).
 D. Instead of walking by faith, Christians are being encouraged to walk by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
 E. It is a direct attack from the devil to rob us, as believers of God’s promises for us, “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8).
XV. Putting our hope or trust in the principles and elements of this world is a wrong philosophy.
 A. It’s a wrong outlook, and the long-term effect is the deterioration of society.
 B. A large segment of society doesn’t believe in God, and even if they believe in a god, they don’t believe in heaven or hell.
 C. We’ve taken prayer out of schools and instead teach children to trust in the principles of this world.
 D. It’s no wonder our society is heading downhill fast.
 E. Now we have police officers and metal detectors in schools, but we’re seeing terrible violence.
 F. It has nothing to do with gun restrictions; it has to do with the removal of moral restrictions as a result of the ungodly worldviews being promoted in society today—it’s a philosophy issue.
 G. In the absence of Christian philosophy, they are trying to come up with controls to limit immorality, but that is the wrong approach.
 H. Society doesn’t need more laws; the people in society need to embrace morality— specifically, a biblically based way of thinking.
XVI. You’d think all Christians would understand the need to have an outlook that conforms to the Word of God, but I’m amazed at how many believers don’t seem to get this.
 A. Everyone wants to be politically correct.
 B. People don’t want to tell anybody else that they are wrong or that it is immoral to act in certain ways.
 C. The irony is that in a society where everyone is free to act however they want, the government is forced to intrude more and more into civil liberties in order to restrict unwanted behaviors.
 D. People without moral restraint have to be controlled by other means.
 E. Unfortunately, you can see this process taking place in the United States and other Western countries.
 F. Some people seem to think that being free means being liberal in the way you think, but that’s not true—you have to control the way you think.
 G. The way people act is a result of how they think, and a thought process that says everything is permissible promotes immoral behavior, which then leads to the deterioration of society.
XVII. When the Apostle Paul wrote that we will be spoiled through philosophy, vain deceit, the traditions of men, and the rudiments of this world, he was saying, “Don’t think like a lost person. Don’t think the way the world thinks.”
 A. The world is filled with people who have no relationship with God and therefore have a very ungodly philosophy.
 B. People who think according to the principles of this world say that God doesn’t exist, and they believe that humans evolved by accident over billions of years.
 C. They don’t acknowledge God, and they don’t understand that they were created and designed by Him. So, to think as the world thinks is to think like a lost person.
 D. The world’s way of thinking is not a comprehensive and rational philosophy.
  i. For instance, how does a society that goes to great lengths to promote the environment and protect even the most obscure animal species arrive at the conclusion that it’s okay to abort babies?
  ii. Some of the same people who yell about recycling think that having a baby is a choice, and if having a baby is inconvenient, they think it’s okay to kill the baby.
  iii. Society needs to get its priorities straight.
  iv. God gave us life.
  v. We are not just like the rest of creation, and we are not equal to animals.
 E. I’ll be dealing with specific philosophies later on, but right now I just want to show how behavior comes from philosophy and why having a Christian philosophy is important for believers.
XVIII. Many believers today are establishing a philosophy independent of God and separate from what the Word of God teaches.
 A. I read a survey that was given to people who identified themselves as born-again Christians, and they were asked how they formed their opinions.
 B. The majority of people said they are just coming up with their own philosophy based on life experiences and their own way of thinking.
 C. One question was if they adhere to the Word of God as being absolute, and only a small percentage answered yes.
 D. Instead of getting their philosophy from the Word of God, they are basing it on how they were raised, what they have been taught in school, books they’ve read, and the study of principles from other world religions.
 E. They have established their philosophy piecemeal.
 F. People are taking a buffet-style approach to the assembly of ideas, and that’s not a good idea.
 G. If you do that, Satan is going to spoil you; i.e., take from you what Jesus has already purchased and what belongs to you by right of inheritance.
XIX. A Christian philosophy must be rooted in the Word of God.
 A. You can’t form a proper Christian worldview without renewing your mind in the Word of God.
 B. When Jesus was praying to the Father, He said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
 C. I just can’t overemphasize how important it is for you to conform your mind to the Word of God and not to the philosophies and principles of this world.
 D. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians aren’t looking to the Word for their philosophy.
 E. They have bought into Satan’s deception that the Word of God contains bits and pieces of truth but that it isn’t completely accurate.
 F. They think it’s outdated because it was written 2,000 years ago and that it can’t possibly have wisdom for modern society.
 G. In fact, some don’t believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God or that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation—they say He is one of many ways.
 H. That’s a wrong philosophy, and Satan will use that perspective to come into your life and steal from you.
XX. Psalm 91:4b says, “His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
 A. The Word of God and the promises it contains are our armor and protection against the attacks of the Enemy.
 B. The Word is 100 percent accurate, it’s totally relevant, and it is the only thing Christians should be basing their lives upon.
 C. The way you change your core values and obtain a Christian philosophy is by conforming your worldview to the Word of God—instead of just leaning on your own understanding.
XXI. If you want to see the results that the Word of God promises, then you have to adopt God’s way of thinking.
 A. I have conformed my philosophy to the Word and it’s working.
 B. My health is great, I’m seeing the miraculous power of God, my stock investments have gained 61 percent in value while the world has been crying about a financial crisis, I’m happy, I’m joyful, my relationships are good, life is good, and God is blessing me in every area of my life.
 C. I’m not bragging; I’m just trying to give an example that conforming your way of thinking to the Word of God works.
 D. I’m not special—you can have the same results because God doesn’t play favorites.
 E. All I’ve done is put God first and recognize that I’m not smart enough to direct my own life.
 F. I just do what God tells me to do, instead of doing what makes sense to me or what I feel like doing.
 G. Being a Christian isn’t about changing your outward appearance or what you do and how you act.
 H. If you don’t change the wrong concepts and the belief system on the inside, then you’re going to have the same results in your life you had before you were saved.
 I. That’s why God gave you His Word—to change the way you think.
 J. The Word of God contains His thoughts, His values, and His way of thinking.
 K. It’s your ticket to a new life.
XXII. I don’t care what society says is right or wrong; I follow what God says.
 A. Society may say homosexuality is just another lifestyle or that a homosexual union is just as important as a marriage between a man and a woman, but God’s Word says differently.
 B. If you subscribe to the world’s view instead of God’s, then the devil is going to steal from you.
 C. The world is trying to say that there are many paths to God and that you need to embrace other philosophies.
 D. God’s Word says you should be on your guard against any philosophy that isn’t modeled after Jesus Christ.
 E. The world wants to pretend that the human race has “evolved” beyond the Bible and that now you should just embrace life.
 F. The world’s philosophies are simply an attempt by the devil to undermine the Word of God—that same thing Satan did to Adam and Eve.
 G. The Enemy wants to strip you of the armor and protection of God’s Word so that he can plunder your life and steal what Jesus has already won for you.
XXIII. The fruit of a tree is directly related to the tree itself (Matt. 7:18-19).
 A. In the same way, you aren’t going to get the fruit of God’s manifold blessings if your core belief system is conformed to the world’s way of thinking.
 B. If you aren’t seeing the fruit in your life that you would like to see, then all you have to do is change the way you think in your heart and adopt God’s way of looking at life.
 C. Once you do that, the fruit will come.
 D. Conforming your way of thinking to God’s Word will bring a harvest of blessings in your life, but they don’t all come overnight.
 E. The natural law of sowing and reaping means that it takes time for a seed to grow into a fruit-bearing plant, and there is a similar spiritual law of sowing and reaping.
 F. God provides miracles when there isn’t time to wait for a harvest, like healing sickness, but God’s best is for you to walk in His blessings.
 G. For instance, it is better to walk in health and never need healing than it is to get sick and need a miracle.
 H. Likewise, it is better to have money in the bank to meet all of your needs than it is to need a miracle to pay your rent every month.
 I. Even after you renew your mind, it may take time to get to where you don’t need a miracle every month, but don’t get discouraged.
 J. Scripture says,
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Galatians 6:9
 K. This means you have to stay focused on God and meditate on His Word to maintain your Christian perspective and reap the fruit God desires for you.
 L. If you are willing to do that and you change the way you think at the heart level, then you will see God’s blessings in your life—guaranteed.
 M. I challenge you to prayerfully consider the Christian philosophies I present in the rest of this study guide and embrace them.
 N. It will change the way you think, which will change the rest of your life.

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