Philippians chapter 4 verses 3 to 9 - Overcoming Anxiety - Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

Philippians chapter 4 verses 3 to 9 - Overcoming Anxiety - Dr J Stewart Gillespie

A study on what the bible has to say on the subject of anxiety.

Overcoming anxiety as a Christian.

Want to use Matthew chapter 14 as a picture background on which to write the text of Philippians chapter 4. 

The picture of the disciples in a storm tossed boat in the midst of the sea. 

A place provoking anxiety and a place where they found the secret of peace! 

This is the same secret Paul presents in Philippians chapter 4 

One thought to take away and 4 pointers to that one thought; 4 means of reaching that point. 

To enjoy the peace of God (4:7) we must first enjoy the God of Peace (4:9). 

This is the same lesson learned in Matthew chp 14: 

In His absence – Fear 
In His presence – Peace 


These 4 pointers are 4 pictures from Matthew chp 14 – I would love you to remember them. 

Timely ministry for the Philippians: 



Paul imprisoned – the key figure in the early Christian church, apostle, preacher, teacher, evangelist extraordinaire. 

No doubt at least some of the Philippians were not unlike us, not unlike ordinary men, who tend to pin their hopes, maybe even have a tendency to idolise, to be influenced by the influencers and have a natural tendency as we all do to follow men, swayed by the cult of personality – we’ve seen it in our own day; in the secular and in the spiritual sphere! Such a person is taken away – who could preplace them? 

The Roman authorities are becoming bolder, brasher and more brazen; they’re uping the ante; the stakes are getting higher, persecution is mounting, the perfect environment for heightened vigilance and increased levels of anxiety. 

Anxiety; a topical subject today. 

There’s been a move away from drug treatments with their side effects and addiction issues; to more practical and psychological therapies. 

A social, medical and political move. 

Unfortunately many of those responsible for producing treatments and promoting and providing, treatments lack a basic grounding in truth, have displayed a profound lack of discernment, which is not overall the strong point of our modern day inclusive, undiscerning and agreeable culture! 

We cannot assume that what is being added to our mental / spiritual food is necessarily good for us! 

Lacking in spiritual discernment some have promoted ‘mindfulness’ as a cure to combat anxiety. 

This is really repackaged Buddhism – beware; containing 7 to 9 principles – almost all of them false and all but 1 diametrically opposed to the truth of scripture! 

But it works! There’s evidence it works! There is! 

Many have peddled fake cures over the years, generally they have worked best with fake illnesses! 

Fake philosophies can work with fake problems! 

If your anxieties pertain to problems which don’t actually exist then a fake philosophy founded on 7 fold fallacy may well work, but if you’re problems are real then fake philosophy will fail! 

Non Judgmentalism: 

“Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Romans 12:9 


Beginners mind 

“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” 1 Corinthians 14:20 

Trust (yourself) 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and -- desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 

Non striving 

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” 2 Timothy 4:7 

The Christian life is a battle ground 


“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:1-2) 

Letting go – the Buddhist non attachment 

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13 

“3 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” Hebrews 10:23 

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Revelation 3:11 

Fake Philosophy can indeed help with fake problems, but if you have real problems you need to found your solutions on solid truth. 

Many of the people I encounter have anxiety over real problems: 

Health issues 
Diagnosis of cancer 
Uncertainty about treatments 
Sick relatives 
Son in the prison 
Marriage breakdown 
Job insecurity 


No one ever liberated Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen or Dachau with a handful of bankrupt mindfulness philosophies: non judgmentalism, non striving and acceptance! 

So let’s set a scene: 

An anxiety provoking scene; Matthew chapter 14; the storm at sea 

How do you deal with a real problem? 

Real storm? 
Real waves? 
Real turmoil? 

Get grounded – look to the horizon – get the eternal perspective on your life. 

The expectation of your fears are invariably worse than that which reality can deliver! 

An eye on the horizon of eternity settles the storm tossed sailor 

Look at the eternal horizon 

Get Grounded 

Get Founded 

Want you to see that the basic premise underpinning anxiety for the child of God is false 

The basic premises underpinning anxiety: 

The world / my life is out of control 
Anything could happen 
Everything could suddenly and tragically go bad 
I could be harmed / lost 

“whose names are in the book of life” (v3) 

How did Paul know that their names were in the book of life? 

Interesting question! 

You are indestructible, the possessor of eternal life! 

Your destiny is certain – it is not the subject of chance. 

The book of life! 

Those whose destiny is life 

7 X in Revelation 

The first and last mention of the book of life in Revelation has a warning of removal from the book! 

Being in the book is not the same as salvation. 

It would seem from Exodus 32:32; Ps 69:28 that the default position is that God gives the gift of life to all men with the intent that that life would continue, never to end in eternal death and judgment. 

It is the result of volitional sin (not the inherited fallen nature of man that excludes you from life and removes your place from that book (Ex 32:33). 

Volitional sin removes your place, salvation guarantees your place. 

Look to the Lord of the Storm 

“And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea” Matthew 14:26 

 Christ sovereign over the waves: 

This is His Storm 

This is His Sea 

These are His Waves 

These are His Waters 

The 3rd book of the Bible – What’s it called? 

Depends who you ask! 

English Bible – Leviticus – pertaining to the Levites 
Rabbis – Torat Cohanim – Law of the Priests 
Hebrew Bibles – Vayikra : “and He called” 

The first word of Leviticus is ‘vayikra’ – that word Vayikra is written differently from any other time it is written in the OT! It is written with a tiny ‘aleph’. If you did not read / did not see the tiny aleph at the end of the word Vayikra the word would read ‘vayikar’ – meaning he chanced upon. It is this word that is used for Baalim’s encounter with God! God ‘chanced upon him’! For Moses and the nation ‘vayikra’ – God called. 

The Rabbis have taught over the years that only a small aleph stood between chance and the call. In other words in the absence of faith for a man like Baalim, it was chance but the eye of faith the deliberate voice of God called. 

There can be but a small aleph of a difference between perceiving chaos and seeing the hand of God in our circumstances. 

Get a glimpse of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in your circumstances. Read the tiny aleph, it makes all of the difference! 

Through Philippians Paul does just that, he reads the small aleph! 

Chp 1 – what about the Problems of life? The Lord is walking on the waves:            sinners are being saved, saints challenged and encouraged, the Saviour glorified and self blessed. 

Chp 2 – what about the Pattern of sacrifice and service and suffering? This is half way to glory 

Chp 3 – what about Powerlessness of Pauls position in the prison? Would resurrection power be sufficient for that need? Look off to Jesus for that power! 

Chp 4 – the extremity of need, the lack of basic provision – supplied by the Provision from Christ 

Look Heavenwards (v6) 


Don’t just do something, pray! 

Turn your fruitless fears to productive prayers! 

Believing prayer . 

Maybe that is why we have these pressures – force us to pray! 

What does it mean to turn our anxieties into prayers? 

Prayer becomes an alternative to anxiety. 

We take the anxiety, we give it to the Lord in prayer and leave it there! 

Prayer is a ‘but’ (v6) and not an ‘also’ ! 

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6 

Look inwards 

Look in at ourself (vs 7 to 9) 

Fill your mind with certainty and truth 

Not with the changing anarchy and districtions around us but with that which doesn’t change, those attributes of God Himself. 

Do you want His Peace? 

Then you must enjoy His Person! 

To enjoy His Presence there must be that fellowship with Him, common ground of reality and truth. 

These are all attributes of God, attributes of Christ. 

They do lie in the sphere of absolute reality. 

“true” – because anxiety lies in the maybes and rarely in the certainties! 

“honest” – worshipful and venerable – because anxiety is often fear of what is not admirable and worshipful. 

“just” – because righteousness furnishes us with absolute certainty and Divine boundaries, anxiety thrives in uncertain boundaries. 

“pure” – Holy – because purity and holiness is rarely the provoker of worry and care. 

Here is the gateway to our mind! 

Common ground with God in control.