What is taking your thoughts captive?
Taking your thoughts captive simply means gaining control over what you think about yourself and life.
What you put in your mind has an effect on what you think. Remember those scary movies you watched as a kid, then had nightmares? It didn't take long to realize that the way to avoid the nightmares was to stop watching that kind of movie. God has provided a way to overcome unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and gain the self-control you seek. It's a matter of taking charge of your life - His way.
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we are to "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."
Here are 6 ways to take your thoughts captive:
Accept responsibility for your thoughts. You have the ability to exercise control over your thoughts. God warned Cain to focus his mind on the right things, but Cain chose to think about the wrong things - anger and jealousy - which led to his murderous actions. Are you willing to admit that you can, with God's help, regain control of your thoughts - and think enabling thoughts instead of disabling ones?
Your mind - not just your behavior - must change. God calls us to change sinful behavior that does not honor Him. Instead of focusing on your outward behavior, work on disciplining your mind - from which the behaviors stem. Allow God to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).
Think through your problems rather than just react to them. When you experience difficult challenges, you can react to them and think yourself into despair every time. Or you can look forward to the next opportunity and ask yourself what you learned from this failure. Is your first thought I'll never do anything right? You don't have to get trapped by disabling thoughts. You are capable of getting out of your shame, despair, hopelessness, and anger - by taking control of your thoughts.
Take your disabling thoughts captive through confession. Paul urges us to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (Rom. 12:21). Confront your disabling thoughts. Turn them over to God and become who He sees you can be. It will take work to take your thoughts captive each time they pop into your mind. But it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Choose to focus your thoughts on the right things. We are to think about those things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable" (Phil. 4:8). When we think about those things, God promises to give us His peace. What a contrast that is to the thoughts of millions of people today. Don't look to a movie, TV show, or how-to formula to accomplish this for you. It takes personal discipline and commitment.
- It is possible. It is not easy to retrain your thoughts or to respond in new Christ-like ways. Take heart: as God empowers you to focus your mind on the right things, it will become easier. You can develop a new frame of reference, based on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
It is possible to live a life aware of our thoughts and taking them captive! God gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us. Start following these steps today to gain power over your mind and thoughts.
Richard L. Ganz, Ph.D., clinical psychology, previously served on the clinical psychiatry faculty at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y., and is an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University. He also spent five years working with Dr. Jay Adams at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Philadelphia. He is now a pastor in the Ottawa Reformed Presbyterian Church and president of Ottawa Theological Hall in Canada.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
"Pray Without Ceasing"
"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made"
"Faith Without Works is Dead"
"Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart"
"All Things Work Together for Good"
"Be Strong and Courageous"
"Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go"
"Love Your Neighbor as Yourself"
"Take Every Thought Captive"
"Do Not Fear"
"God is Love"
"Eye for an Eye"
"Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"
"I Can Do All Things Through Christ"
"The Lord is my Shepherd"
"Be Still and Know that I Am God"