How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 1

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For over half my life, depression held my mind. The strength of its hold fluctuated, but I felt like its captive for so very long. About 12 years ago, God healed me from depression. Since then, He has been teaching me how to take my thoughts captive to prevent not only a relapse but to also lead me toward total and complete victory in this area.

So, how DO we take our thoughts captive? If we consider the word “captive,” it seems to indicate not letting something run loose and be free to fulfill its desires. When a person is taken captive, he can then be used as a tool by his captives to achieve their goals. A captive is subject to the desires, whims and even compulsions of his captors. That’s what happens with our thoughts too.

Let’s focus in on 2 Corinthians 10:5, which clearly indicates not only the need to take thoughts captive but the reason for doing so as well. The version quoted below is a combination of the NASB and the NLT.

“With these weapons, we are destroying speculations and breaking down every proud argument and lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and that keeps people from knowing God. We take every thought captive and conquer rebellious ideas, instead making our thoughts and ideas obedient to Christ.”

What are these weapons? Verse 4 of 2 Corinthians 10 tells us that our weapons are not of this world. Ephesians 6:13-18 gives more specifics on the spiritual weapons available to Christians.

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

Also known as the full armor of God, our weapons are truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, scripture and of course prayer. The Message version of Ephesians 6:13-18 says to “learn how to apply them.” In other words, just as a knight must learn how to operate in his armor as if it’s his second skin, so too much the Christian learn to “take up” God’s armor and operate in it in a way that is natural and efficient for battle.

Why do we need to take our thoughts captive? Both 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Ephesians 6:13-18 help answer this question. Paul tells the Corinthians to take thoughts captive that are “raised up against the knowledge of God and that keep people from knowing God.” And he tells the Ephesians to take up the armor of God to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” In other words, we need to fight against our flesh and against Satan in the world of our thoughts to keep them from drawing our focus away from God.

Please see How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 2 for a continuation of this discussion.

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10 thoughts on “How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 1

  1. My first thought Kari is why not destroy our thoughts or least the bad ones. Why would we want to keep them captive? I guess overall God does not want mindless followers but followers who know good and evil and choose good or rather choose God. What then do we do with the bad captive thought? I think the objective is to remake our thoughts; to turn them from seeking their own way to seeking to be conformed to God's thoughts.

  2. It was interesting to read about when God started to set you free, Kari – that's also about when he started to set me free. I've been regularly carrying my thoughts captive to Him through truth journaling for about 11 years now. I haven't been talking about it on this blog much (more on my old blog and in my Bible study) but I'm going to try to post some of those entries this week. I'll look forward to reading your posts!

    • That is interesting. I love to hear about stories of victory, and I am learning to really enjoy sharing my own stories. God can use them to help others. In fact, I think that's one reason He gives us testimonies. When we keep it to ourselves, we are holding back His goodness for others. We forget how much He wants to use us sometimes, and He is teaching me that a lot these days.

  3. This has been a difficult uphill struggle for me. I too have been set free from depression. Praise God!! I'm so thankful He has helped me take negative thoughts captive, surrender them, and replace them with His truths. It's a frequently repeated process everyday, but makes all of the difference in not only my mental health but also in my ability to reach out to others.

    • God works in us not only for us but for others as well. He often gives me motivation to improve on something or to get healthier or whatever because of the impact it will have on others.

  4. I love your words on taking our thoughts captive. It's not just fighting depression. It could be anger, procrastination, or any manner of wrong thought. It's interesting that the original context about takings thoughts captive was speaking out against false doctrines in the church – which just shows you the power of what we believe.

    • Interesting that false doctrine in the church and wild thoughts seem eerily similar in their reasoning and in their ability to control otherwise reasonable people. Our beliefs root themselves in our hearts and then drive us. Our thoughts create our beliefs. Such an intertwined situation that requires diligence and constantly taking them captive to put them up against God's truth. You're right… it fits more than just depression and really goes into any thought pattern that doesn't line up with God's word.

  5. Pingback: How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 2 of 2 | Struggle to Victory

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