There’s sometimes little rhyme or reason to how my mind works. I just don’t get how I dwell on certain things but let others go easily. Frustrating, especially when nothing I do can get me off a specific thought track at times.
Some days more than others, my thoughts seem to control me. They distract me from what matters most and focus me on what matters little.
Years ago, this distraction sometimes lasted months. It often led into the pit of depression. Now when it happens, I sooner rather than later end up wandering in Scripture until the focus on what matters most returns. That speaks not to any effort on my part but instead to the continual drawing of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Parsing it Out
Especially when I struggle with errant thoughts, I spend some time parsing out this verse:
“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 10:5)
When I do this activity, I usually start by going to Bible Hub where I can get a verse listed in several translations one after another. Reading through these helps me better grasp the focus of a verse.
Drew Reichard in his post, “What Does the Bible Say about Refugees and Foreigners” on Biblegateway.com explains why this is important and helpful.
“Each translation is an attempt to capture both the idea and the accurate wording as they were originally written; but there are differences, so reading versions side-by-side can add to your understanding of the text.”
Here’s what the process basically looks like in my journal for 2 Corinthians 10:5.
- Demolish arguments and every pretension = destroy every proud obstacle = destroy arguments and every lofty opinion = tear down arguments and every presumption = overthrowing arguments and every high thing = casting down imaginations and every high thing = every bit of pride.
- That sets itself up against the knowledge of God = that keeps people from knowing God = raised against the knowledge of God = that sets itself up against the knowledge of God = that keeps people from knowing God = lifting itself up against the knowledge of God = that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.
- We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ = We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ = take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Doing this helps focus my thoughts. It helps God’s truth saturate my thinking and establishes it once again in what matters most.
Yes, I know this verse refers to spiritual warfare and not relying on human ingenuity or manmade plans to bring victory. I realize it’s getting at what keeps those who don’t yet know Christ from knowing him, things like secular humanism, cults, false religions, etc.
But a broad truth within it, the idea of making every thought obedient to Christ helps bring my errant thoughts back into submission to God’s truth. In other words, my thinking focuses back where God wants it.
When studying a single verse, respect the importance of understanding the context by reading the verses surrounding it too. This is one way to go deeper into the meaning and application of a verse.
I also like to go deeper into the truth of a verse by reading the verses that connect with it in some way.
This is what going deeper by looking at other scripture looks like for 2 Corinthians 10:5:
“If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Taking connecting verses like these, I write them out in my journal then jot down some personal application points. I also note connections among the various verses I’ve written down.
By no means does this type of study make up my entire Bible study approach. Generally, this is just a great refocusing activity for me when I’m struggling.