How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 2

While in the throes of depression for many years, the idea of taking thoughts captive simply seemed impossible. In fact, the idea to do so never really entered my mind. After I felt a release from depression somewhere in my 28th year of existence, the ability to take thoughts captive began to grow within me.

God used my husband, a godly counselor, my awesome pastor, my faithful exercise partner and several people in my church family to move me along in this process. Even more, though, His Holy Spirit worked within me to train me and teach me how to wear and use His armor. (See How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 1 of 2 for more on the role of the armor of God in this process.)

There are five strategies that taught me to take my thoughts captive. These five strategies make up the continual training plan I use regularly to never again be in a place where my thoughts hold me captive.

  1. Retrain thoughts. My negative, self-defeating thoughts needed saturated with scripture. Reading A LOT of positive books also helped reprogram my thought processes. Also, I had to be very careful with whom I spent time in fellowship.
  2. Learn truth. Because my thoughts were so messed up, I had to find out what God was saying about what I was thinking. Since the best way to know falsehood is to study the truth, I continually sought to bring my thoughts up against God’s truth.
  3. Become teachable. I am ashamed to say that I was not very teachable as a teenager and for most of my twenties. I had to learn to become teachable and willing to change.
  4. Admit fault. I had to recognize and admit that my thoughts were leading me astray. For a time, I couldn’t trust them much at all and had to rely on others who were thinking clearly and based on God’s truth. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at repenting when my thoughts wander from truth.
  5. Maintain. Recently, an online friend advised me to say this simple prayer, “Lord, You know my weaknesses. Speak to me.” This prayer works well for me in a lot of ways, not the least of which is to help take my thoughts captive. But here’s the important step: You have to listen for God to speak. This is the heart of the maintenance program. Then, I cycle through the other steps (not necessarily in any particular order) routinely.

With complete certainty, I can say that this training process saved my marriage and my sanity. And as I continually cycle through it, I use a variety of methods to help create a more full and complete captivity of my thoughts. The methods I use the most are:

  1. Prayer. We are never disconnected from God.
  2. Journaling. Helps tremendously with focus. Barb Raveling’s post on Truth Journaling is a terrific resource.
  3. Idea book. I have a notebook where I record all my ideas. Just getting them out of my head and onto paper seems to put them in captivity and to keep them from taking over my mind.
  4. Accountability. Having an accountability partner to talk to and to help apply God’s truth takes thoughts captive by removing emotion, which can taint our ability to think clearly.
  5. Fellowship. Know the difference between fellowship and socializing. We need fellowship to grow emotionally and spiritually. (Note: Watch for a future post on fellowship.)

Please know that by no means do I think this topic has been sufficiently or completely covered. What I can testify to is that the two posts on this topic do accurately reflect my struggle to understand and apply God’s truth in a very sensitive and vulnerable place in my life.

DISCUSSION: What advice do you have for “taking every thought captive”?

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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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