I have been thinking lately about our thoughts and how powerful they are for good or ill. What we focus our thoughts on will soon rule the day. Eventually we will act based upon what we think. It is vital that our thoughts be true or we will ultimately act upon the lie.
As an unsaved teenager, I thought the way to deal with unwanted thoughts was to push them out of my mind sometimes by imagining an eraser cleaning off a chalkboard (I know that dates me) or sometimes just distracting myself with other thoughts. As a young believer in my 20’s I sometimes dealt with unwanted thoughts by just saying, ‘I can’t think about that Lord, I’m giving it to you’ (at least this was a step in the right direction.) …Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
But that did not take into consideration 2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV-underlining mine)
The one-two punch.
Punch One: Take captive every thought. Not some thoughts, not most thoughts but every thought that sets itself up again the knowledge of God. How do we take something captive?
According to the dictionary captive (v.) means “taken and held as or as if a prisoner of war”[i] What an interesting word picture. Taking every thought that is contrary to God’s word as if a prisoner of war. Well it is, isn’t it? A war for our minds. A war for truth and against lies. Ultimately, it’s a war for obedience and against disobedience.
When we fail to take our thoughts captive, our minds can dwell on that which is contrary to the Word of God. Our focus can lead us away from God’s best for us.
Rather than pushing thoughts away or wiping them from the slate, Scripture tells us to take them captive. Root out thoughts and secure them for examination.
Years ago I was given a book for widows that I counsel. I read it and was blessed by its format which I have never forgotten. I gave a few of them away but failed to keep one so I can’t tell you the title or the author – my search to replace it has turned up nothing. But this I remember. On the left page the title said, “What I said.” It reflected this widow’s raw thoughts and emotions as she wrestled with her loss and grief starting the day of her husband’s death. On the right facing page the title was, “What He said.” This page reflected God’s word as it related to her thoughts and emotions. This book modeled what 2 Corinthians 10:5 recorded.
Punch two: to make it obedient to Christ.
Waging war in our minds is not simply taking thoughts captive; that is only the first step. The second, equally important step, is to hold the thought up to God’s Word to determine if there is a lie or error in our thinking and if so, correct our thought bringing it in line with God’s truth. This is another good reason to regularly immerse ourselves in Scripture.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
This applies to our thoughts about ourselves, our circumstances, about others and about God.
I know I am not nearly vigilant enough in this area. I need much grace and much growth plus a good dose of self-discipline to train myself to practice the one two punch. Perhaps you find yourself in the same shoes?
[i] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/captive accessed 4.22.19
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think About This: “Our deepest problem is that we seek to find our identity outside the story of redemption.” – Paul David Tripp