When Paul tells us to think about pure things (Phil 4:8), I believe he is talking about keep our thoughts free from clutter, dirt, garbage, and sin. Purity is about cleanliness. When we take a shower, we are cleaning off the dirt and starting fresh with a pure body. So also our thoughts become darkened by the dirt of sin – whether it be thoughts of sexual impurity, anger towards others, gossip, plotting harm, and the like.
How do we think about pure things? It helps to surround ourselves with things that are clean and pure rather than people or media that are saturated with impure images, words, and themes.
We’re not very fun to be around when we think about impure things. We become very self-focused and the stench of impurity keeps our friends away (just like when we don’t take showers).
Thankfully, God gave us plenty of pure things in the world to think about – love, peace, sunrises, joy, babies, flowers, beautiful art and music, reconciliation, forgiveness, redemption, and God Himself.
In fact, God Himself epitomizes purity. He is perfect purity. There is nothing dark, dirty, or sinful about Him. So if we want to think about pure things, it helps to start with God Himself.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4 NIV)