“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have the divine power to demolish strongholds. 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.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Many Bible teachers and pastors throughout the years have made this statement: “Right thinking leads to right living.” It is entirely rooted in the Scriptures, for Matthew 12:34 states “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” The King James Version beautifully articulates this thought in Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” What we think is what we are, what we become, and how we live. In recent weeks, I have been disturbed, grieved actually, over what I have read and heard and seen on the news. Regardless of political opinion, gender, or race, basic human decency and kindness seem to have evaporated into thin air. Yet until our hearts are set right before our Holy God, then change will not come. It is easy in such a polarized climate to lose sight of who the real enemy is. As believers, it is our responsibility to take a step back and recognize that the enemy of our souls is at work all around us. The enemy is not the one wearing flesh and bone but we often have limited vision and begin to see enemies all around us. People who don’t think like we think. People who believe differently than we do. People who use social media as a weapon, to further political agendas, and to create division. Our thoughts have become tainted and skewed. Once that occurs, we begin to act from twisted thinking. We begin to fight identical to the world around us.
But God has called us to higher thinking. He reminds us through the apostle Paul that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. Why are these weapons different? Because we are not fighting a human enemy. We are fighting against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (see Ephesians 6:12). Yet when we fail to take captive our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ, we have already begun to lose the battle. Today, we need to recognize that our thought life is greatly affected by unchecked thinking. We cannot go to war with the enemy of our souls when we have not learned to submit our thoughts to Christ.
So what does it mean to take captive our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ? How do we practically do this? We must first be attuned to our patterns of thinking. I daresay in this current culture, anxious thinking is probably reaching record highs. Are we aware of our thoughts or do we somehow get swept away before we even realize the tidal wave has hit us? God tells us that He searches our thoughts and He knows our thoughts. Begin with Him. Begin by approaching Him in prayer. Ask Him to make you aware of any faulty thinking or even sinful thought patterns. He will faithfully bring to mind areas of our thinking in which we have not fully surrendered to Him. Sometimes, it begins quite simply. Ask God to convict at the first hint of errant thoughts. For example, let’s say someone cuts me off in traffic and my knee-jerk reaction is to rant for the next five minutes about the idiocy of the other driver. If I have asked God to begin to reveal to me times to take captive my thoughts and make them obedient to Him, then, in this situation, I will feel the prick of the Holy Spirit asking me if what I am thinking about this person is true, kind, loving, gentle, and patient. When I recognize that it is not, then I can confess and ask God to give me grace and to enable me next time to not react. This is a very simplistic example of how to take captive our thoughts. Sometimes, it is not so easy or apparent. Sometimes, our thoughts are about ourselves and they are lies from the enemy of our soul. Perhaps our thoughts are about our spouse, our children, or someone else dear to us and what we are thinking is not what would honor God. Taking those thoughts captive is as simple as praying and telling God that though your feelings are saying one thing, they are not in alignment with His Word. Ask Him to change your heart. To change your thoughts. To even sometimes change your mood. In order for us to begin to take captive our thoughts, then we must cultivate rich prayer lives. We must take our thoughts to Him. Tell God how we feel. He already knows. We don’t have to sugarcoat it or pretend like we are not feeling what we are feeling. But with Him, it is safe and He loves us so much that He will faithfully reveal His truth to us. It also doesn’t have to be eloquent. Prayer is simply talking to God and listening for His response.
In addition to cultivating rich prayers lives, we must also root ourselves in God’s Word. The more time we spend in God’s Word, the more we know Him. The more we know Him, the more we are transformed into His image, if we are applying what He is teaching us. Out of the overflow of walking with Him, only then will we begin to see our impact in the world around us. We cannot control the greater goings-on of the world, but we can control how we interact with it and how we respond to it. More than ever, children of God have a high responsibility and duty to be His light in the ever-increasing dark world around us. But, it begins with authenticity in our thinking, which will affect our living.
The world has given us much to fear, much to dread, much to dispute, and much reason to identify humans as the enemy. Our fellow man is not our enemy. Satan is. His time is growing short and he wants to take down with him as many as he can. He wants to ruin testimonies, witnesses, and relationships. He is prowling around, looking for every opportunity to get a foothold, even a toe’s length, into our lives. He will begin by attacking our thoughts, for he, too, is aware that we act on what is already in our heart. Praise God, Jesus has already won the victory and given us His Word and His Spirit to fight the battle in our daily lives. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (HCSB). Let’s start taking captive our thoughts and reframing them as prayers, confessions, and petitions, asking God to bring them into obedience to Him. Then God’s peace will transcend, and we are freed up to love other people because as we think in our hearts, so we will be. Rise up, mighty warrior of Christ–the battle is ours for the taking!