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How to Take Every Thought Captive to Obey Christ
In God’s word, some of the hardest things to obey are the sanctification passages that are specifically our responsibility to fulfill. These are passages like the command to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17), or “to walk by the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). We all agree these are the commands of God we are to obey. After all, we can read them for ourselves in Scripture. But what is often missing are the “hows” to obey His commands. We know what to do, but struggle in how to actually make it happen. So today we’re going to look at just one of these often difficult to follow commands: How to surrender our thought life to the obedience of Christ.
The verse that commands us to surrender our thought life to Him is found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. Here, the apostle Paul shares four things we can achieve when we fight our battles with spiritual power instead of just relying on our own strength. In this lesson, let’s just focus on the third point and see what we can learn from it.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for (1) pulling down strongholds, (2) casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, (3) bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and (4) being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled – 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
Let’s look at the third command, 1 Corinthians 10:5, a bit closer.
(you, implied) bringing every (pás) thought (nóēma – a concept of the mind, what a person is thinking about, their purpose, disposition, intention) into captivity (aichmalōtízō – to lead captive as a prisoner of war, to subdue, to bring into subjection, to assume power over someone and to take someone captive) to the obedience (hupakoḗ – the state of submission, compliance, and conformity to an authority) of Christ.
But how is that done? What are some practical steps we can follow?
Replace and Embrace
Let me give you four general steps to taking control of your thought life and bringing it into submission to the Lord. But note, this process is a process of replacement. Using Philippians 4:8 as a foundation, we are to replace our carnal and sinful thoughts with God’s truth. And we do this by rejecting one and embracing the other. Here are the four general steps to find freedom for your thought life.
One, you must begin by recognizing sinful, harmful, or negative thoughts about God, others, or yourself.
Two, you must learn how to replace these thoughts with God’s truth – Philippians 4:8.
Three, then you must learn how to guard your mind – Proverbs 4:23.
Finally, like everything else, you must choose to surrender your thought life to the Lord by learning how to reject wrong thinking and embrace truth.
One last thing, to help you in this reject and embrace process, let me give you ten practical areas of your life where you can put these into practice, along with some scriptural support. If you begin to put these into practice, I believe you will see immediate results in your journey of surrender to the Lord.
• Reject anger and embrace forgiveness – Ephesians 4:26-27.
• Reject worry and embrace trust – Matthew 6:25-26, Philippians 4:6-7.
• Reject pride and embrace humility – Philippians 2:2-4.
• Reject fear and embrace faith – 2 Timothy 1:7.
• Reject lust and embrace purity – Matthew 5:28.
• Reject bitterness and embrace forgiveness – Ephesians 4:31-32.
• Reject selfishness and embrace generosity – 1 Timothy 6:17-18.
• Reject gossip and embrace edification – Ephesians 4:29.
• Reject unbelief and embrace faith – Hebrews 11:6.
• Reject hatred and embrace love – 1 John 2:9-10.
By developing this discipline, you will begin the process of having your mind renewed (Rom. 12:2), and be able to control your thought life and give Him the glory He deserves.