2 Corinthians 10:5 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.
What most of us don't realize is that taking our thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ is not a suggestion from God, it is a command. This is how we overcome Satan's schemes and the world's influence, and our sin nature. Taking our thoughts captive is one of the most important practical things that the Lord gives us so that we can live a life of victory here and now.
The Lord is quite aware of our thoughts and feelings and He wants us to be aware of them as well and more then that, He expects us to take control of them. While the world teaches us that we are at the mercy of our feelings and thoughts, God’s Word tells us that instead we are to be in conscious control of them at all times.
Think of it this way. We know how powerful God’s Word is, well, being made in His image, our words are also very powerful. We know that God’s Word is just as powerful when we’re thinking it, reading it, or speaking it right? Our words are also powerful in all those ways. In other words, the words we think, our thoughts, are “words” and they are powerful! It is our thoughts that produce our emotions.
Even the secular world is aware that it's our thoughts that create our emotions and that the way to stop feelings such as worry, fear, depression etc is to change our thoughts. The problem is that on our own we can't be really successful. It's only through working with God and replacing those sinful thoughts and feelings with God's Word that we can have success.
Proverbs 23:7 —For as he thinks in his heart, so is he Proverbs 27:19 —As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man. *
What the Lord wants us to do is take every thought we have captive and make it obedient to Christ. How do we do this and what exactly does that mean?
When you have a thought that is saying something like, “What if such and such happens though”. You know, those fantasy thoughts of “what if my husband died and I had no one” and things like that; God says to “capture” that thought. In other words stop it cold. As soon as you catch yourself thinking something along those lines, you tell yourself to “Stop!” You stop the thought and then you make that thought obedient to Christ.
How do you make it obedient to Christ? You replace the lie (because it is a lie) with God’s Truth. In this case since we’re dealing with fantasy type thoughts here, perhaps you could replace it with these verses:
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:31-33 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
You don’t have to worry about remembering an entire verse or anything like that, as long as you get the point that God is trying to get across to you in the verse itself. So while it is best to be able to use the actual verses, you can at first simply replace the “bad” thought with something like, “God will meet all my needs, I don’t have to worry” until you’re able to actually recall the verses that the Lord gives you.
No matter what the thought is, it is a lie if it is causing you worry, fear, stress, depression etc.
1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
This is what the renewing of your mind is which Paul refers to here:
Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer 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.
Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
This doesn’t happen by some mystical force, at least not entirely. This happens through good hard work on our part. Then when we do our part, replacing the lies with God’s Word, with His Truth, God then renews our minds, and little by little our attitudes are made new. So, for example: You're depressed/worried or whatever about money; you stop that and think to yourself, any or all of these things: "God is my provider" "God will take care of me" All I have to do is seek Him, and do my best to do His Will and He will take care of my needs".
Now, I can show you in the bible, a verse for every one of those statements, and later, you'll be able to as well; but for right now, just telling yourself the truth is enough. Let's say for example that I don't feel good physically and I then start to think, "why isn't God helping me...how much of this do I have to go through...isn't He going to help me"? etc. I then suddenly realize that I'm having those thoughts and starting to feel down, so I literally stop the thoughts. Let's say I realize it when I'm actually in the middle of that last line......"isn't He going to help me". I'm in the middle of that line so the actual words that I've thought are ....."isn't He going" and I stop it right there and instead I and make them obedient to Christ. I would then say, "No! God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble and He is already working this out for my good!"
Remember, if you're ever "stuck" and can't think of a "comeback" to one of the negative thoughts you're taking captive, you can always cry out to the Lord for help! (and He WILL help you!) If you get into a situation like that, ask the Lord for help, take the thought captive, simply saying, "I know that isn't true and that the Truth is in God's Word, I simply have to find it." Then open your bible, continuing to ask the Lord for help and guidance and look for that truth till you find it! Then afterward thank the Lord for the opportunity He gave you to learn something new.
So the Lord has told us to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Him and He tells us how to do that and what kind of thoughts and feelings we should be allowing. There's many verses that show this, but this is one of the main ones about our thoughts:
Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Any thought that doesn't line up with this verse then, is a lie. It's either from Satan, the world or our sin nature and it needs to be taken captive. Another way to look at it is that anything that's not of faith, is sin so we all have lots of thoughts to take captive!
Romans 14:23 b — and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
The only thoughts you have to "take captive" are the ones that aren't true; The negative, false, the lies, etc. The thoughts you take captive are the ones that say things like:
God's abandoned me; God isn't going to rescue me or help me etc this time; God hates me; God doesn't care what's happening in my life right now; "If God doesn't help me now that means I've done something terrible to displease Him." "If I don't pay the bill I'll lose my house". "I'm going to wind up losing my house". "no one cares." " No one can or will help me." "I'm stupid". "I'm ugly" "I'm such a horrible sinner God couldn't possibly forgive me". "I keep sinning so that's why God is letting this happen." "God hates me". "God only cares about my spiritual life not my physical life". "I can't stop sinning so why bother trying". "I can't stop sinning so I must not be saved." "Why me." "I've been good so why do I have to suffer? God isn't fair!" "I don't know what to do, the Lord never speaks to me" "I can't hear or understand what He is telling me to do". "I can't"
The negative "what ifs" thoughts and fantasies as well as any sinful "what if" thoughts, day dreams and fantasies.
Fantasizing/day dreaming about things you know are sinful or that could lead you into sin; Fantasizing about things you have no control over to the point that they upset and worry you.
It is one thing to consider what you would do "if something happened", but quite another thing to allow yourself to dwell over and over about "bad things" happening and how it would affect you since you have no control of those things at all and it goes against the commands of God not to do that. He tells us outright not to worry about tomorrow; that He is in control and we are to trust Him. Therefore when we do this, we are sinning and the root of that sin or at least one of the roots is a lack of faith and trust in God and a lack of belief that He loves you and will care for you and help you.
These are the kinds of thoughts that we are to "stop" and "take captive". All other thoughts we can allow to continue.
As you can tell by the examples, I've had a lot of experience in thinking those kind of thoughts and could give another dozen examples easily.
Stopping the thoughts and taking them captive is work. I'm not going to kid you about that. The alternative though is to continue to be worry, be angry, upset, stressed and depressed and to continue to allow your emotions and thoughts to control you rather then controlling them the way our Lord wants us to.
I can tell you though what will happen when you start to do this.
At first you won't realize that you're having the thoughts until they're completed and you're starting to worry etc. At that point you'll stop them and make them captive. As time goes on and you continue to practice this daily, you'll start to recognize those kind of thoughts sooner and quicker until eventually--(this usually takes months though) you'll realize they're starting practically before the first "word" of the thought is formed! Again you'll continue to stop it and take it captive.
As more time goes by and you continue to do this daily, you'll begin to realize that these kind of thoughts are occurring less and less frequently too. It's almost like when you first start doing this, you find yourself in the middle of a flood of these negative type thoughts, and as time goes by and you consistently practice taking them captive, the flood slows down to a trickle and you're catching them sooner and sooner. This is very encouraging and shows you how much progress you've made! You'll see by this too that you're actually not worrying, or fearful or depressed much anymore either! It's amazing!
Lest someone think that this is the same or similar to "positive thinking", it really is not! The key here is God and God's Word! At the same time that you're striving to stop and take these thoughts captive, you need to be in His Word and using His Word to replace them with. Your words won't help, His Words will and it is God who will be changing you!
I know I told you that at first it was OK to "paraphrase" and use your own words and it is, but you should make every attempt to immediately or as soon as possible, get to your bible and find what His Word really says and use that instead of your own words. Write it down because you'll surely need that Word again!
So you can see too that stopping your thoughts in their tracks when they're negative and not true, and replacing them with God's Truth, not only is being obedient to the Lord but it helps you know His Word, and can make your relationship with Him closer too.
We all pretty well know what our thought patterns are and where our weakness are as well as our sins. Plus all we have to do is ask the Lord for help and He will show us and He will show us where in His Word the Truth is to combat those thoughts and sins.
I would suggest however that to start you should first pray asking the Lord for help, then go through your bible with His help and write down those verses that are most applicable to your thoughts. That way you'll have your ammunition ready when those thoughts come and you won't be fumbling for your gun.
I'll list some of the ones I've used and some I still use which might help everyone get started later, but as I said, the best way is to ask the Lord to help you and then write down those you need the most to get started with. Once you have the hang of it though, don't just rely on those verses you start with, dig into His Word and find more! When you're reading His Word in your regular reading time, and you see one that you know will help, stop and write it down too. It won't be long before you'll have so many that you won't know what to do with them all and that will show you even more just how "wrong" and sinful those thoughts we are stopping are, and just how loving and caring our God is toward us! In fact, the Lord will often purposely bring you to scriptures each day that will help you. He loves working in partnership with us! (by the way, you don't have to worry about remembering the chapter and verse etc, for this, just the words themselves) I'll list some scriptures to get you started at the end of this post.
To reiterate: The first step is to ask the Lord to show you whenever you have a thought or feeling that is contrary to His Word, or that is not good for you. That's not only the first step, it's the most important one of all.
The second step is to begin to pay attention to yourself, to what you're thinking and feeling. If your wife is willing to help you, that can be a huge help right there and for others any spouse or close Christian friend that's willing to help would be great! You can ask them to let you know any time you are showing signs of feeling anger, worry, stress, fear, depression etc or anytime you're beginning to speak things that are negative and contrary to God's Word. Tell them that anytime they notice you doing that, to please stop you immediately and let you know. Ask them if they are willing, to ask the Lord to help them notice when you're doing these things.
That way you have the Lord and your family helping you spot it at first. After awhile, probably not very long lol, you'll begin to get the hang of it and you'll be spotting it yourself just before they say something. That's your first sign that you're on the right track and that you're beginning to be consciously aware of what you're thinking and feeling. After awhile again, it will be second nature to you so that you won't really have to think about it consciously. You'll just "know". It's almost like having a computer program running in the background of your mind all the time monitoring your thoughts and feelings lol.
The third step: When you are told, either by the Lord or by family or you see it yourself that you're thinking and/or feeling in ways you shouldn't be, then you immediately tell yourself to stop.
Let's say for example that I don't feel good physically and I then start to think, "why isn't God helping me...how much of this do I have to go through...isn't He going to help me"? etc. I then suddenly realize that I'm having those thoughts and starting to feel down, so I literally stop the thoughts. Let's say I realize it when I'm actually in the middle of that last line......"isn't He going to help me". I'm in the middle of that line so the actual words that I've thought are ....."isn't He going" and I stop it right there and
(The fourth step) I make them obedient to Christ. I would then say, "No! God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble and He is already working this out for my good!"
So now I have taken the thoughts captive by stopping them and I have brought them to obedience in Christ by replacing the thoughts with His Truth. By the way, the verses I used above in my reply to myself were these:
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The fifth and last step: Then last but not least, I would follow His instructions on what He wants me to think about instead and so I would then change my train of thought from how I was feeling to say..."hmmm I wonder what's happening on Fresh Hope...I think I'll go see what everyone is up to there; or I could change the topic in my mind to thinking about my husband and what a big help he's been to me lately or whatever else that is good and not contrary to God's Word. I could even decide to get up and go do some chores lol The verse I'm referring to when I say He gives us instructions on what we should be thinking about is this one:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Now all of that would probably take only a few seconds altogether. It's not a long drawn out affair. You 1 notice the thought, you 2 stop it, 3 replace it and 4 change the subject.
As I said though we have to become aware of our thoughts in the first place. Asking the Lord and others to make you aware of it really helps though and it won't be long before it's second nature to you! Here's a little bit from another teacher that may help you, and will show you too that it's not just me making this up lol
Taking Thoughts Captive
Q. How do we take our thoughts captive in Christ? Are there words that must be said? Do we invoke Jesus’ name? Do we just try to think of something else? Do we pray to have satan bound in Jesus’ name so he cannot affect us? How do we know If the thoughts are from an evil entity or just our sin nature? What is the correct way to deal with thoughts that cross our mind and are not holy and serving of God
A. We take thoughts captive by concentrating on Scripture that refutes the thought, replacing evil with good in our minds. It’s an application of the theory of displacement which holds that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. At the conscious level we can only think one thought at a time, so focusing on the good thought will force the bad thought out of our mind. It doesn’t matter whether the thought comes from the devil or from our own sin nature, it’s all the same.
In Phil 4:8 Paul told us, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. By doing so we can take evil thoughts captive before they can enter our mind and take root there.
posted with permission
Controlling Our Thoughts
Q. After reading your answer to a previous question I sent in, I got to thinking about how do we know when to blame the devil vs. blaming ourselves for the bad thoughts that come into our mind?
A. Assessing the blame for where your thoughts come from isn’t important. Whether it comes from your sin nature or straight from the devil, it’s all the same. 2 Cor. 10:3-5 says we’re to take captive any thought that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We should not allow any thought come into our mind that contradicts what we know about how God would have us behave. As you learn to immediately reject those thoughts and ask God to forgive you for them, you’ll find yourself having fewer of them. This is what James meant when he said, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
posted with permission
And here are some scriptures to get you started:
2 Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Psalm 103:10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
Psalm 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Psalm 27:13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace,
Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 13:5 ...God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Psalm 86:5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
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.
Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Ruth 4:15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age.
Psalm 103:1-5 Of David. Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Remember, you don't have to worry about remembering the chapter and verse etc, for this, just the words themselves; and you don't have to use the entire verse or verses either, but just the part that pertains to your thoughts--as long as you're not taking it out of context. For example:
Isaiah 43:1-2 But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
In the above passage, you might just need to use this part:
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
or maybe this part: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you
or whatever portion you need for the particular thought you're replacing.