Taking Captive Every Thought

November 15, 2013 at 9:02 AM 2 comments

We have a choice to direct our mind or let it direct us.

We have a choice to direct our mind or let it direct us.

The text in 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Like you, I’ve looked at that and ask, “How can anyone do that constantly?” It seems a herculean task, quite frankly, because we know that the only way to “take captive” every thought is to replace it with something else. Just thinking about that can be exhausting. The very idea of doing that during every waking hour seems insurmountable. But I think that I have found a way and I’m trusting the Lord to correct me if I’m wrong.

I have learned that when I realize my mind has begun to wonder and is going into areas that don’t glorify Him or help me, then I simply start praising Him. Rather than try to think about something else specifically, I am helped when I simply make a sharp turn away from what I’m actively thinking and begin praising God. It seems much easier than trying to deliberately replace the thoughts that are pulling me down the wrong road with thoughts that are just as deliberate to pull me back toward the correct road.

For instance, the other day, I noticed that in my mind, I was actually wishing ill toward another. We know that’s wrong, don’t we? Upon realizing it, I immediately began to praise the Lord for His attributes. Immediately, the wrong thoughts were gone, replaced with new ones that were directed toward God. The more you know of His Word, the more things you have for which to praise Him.

Let me also state that even if you are a new Christian and know little of His Word, you can still simply offer praise to Him for His salvation. This type of praise will do the two things required of each of His disciples:

  1. move your mind back where it should be by replacing wrong thoughts with good ones, and
  2. directing your attention to God, where it should always be

As Christians, we have a tremendous amount of things for which we can continually thank God. In reading from J. Sidlow Baxter, I am reminded that there are numerous things that God has done for us in the process of salvation. Here is what he says that is directly due to salvation and the impact it has on the converted soul.

“We have a new spiritual life with a Christward pulling-power. We have a new spiritual nature, with new faculties of spiritual seeing and hearing and knowing. We have new spiritual desires, begotten in us by a fundamental intervention in our personalities. We have a new standing before God, and live in a new fellowship with Him. We have a new relationship toward the Adamic human race; for although bodily we are still members of the old humanity, yet spiritually we are lifted out of it and above it.

“Everything now has a new centre (sic) for us; and that new centre is the Lord Jesus Christ; not the Jesus of history, as such, sublime and indispensable though He is; but the same Jesus (the same yet no longer the same) who is now the Christ of resurrection and ascension; the Christ who now transcends the earthly and temporal; the Christ of the infinities and eternities; the Christ who is lifted to the throne of heaven as the God-appointed Centre of the new creation. As verse 16 [of 2 Corinthians 5] says, “Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more” (ERV).” [1]

In those short two paragraphs, Baxter points out several things for which we can continually praise God. Because of our new life in Christ, we

  • are pulled toward Christ
  • have a new spiritual nature (one that is at odds with our carnal nature, or the flesh)
  • have the ability to see and hear things from a spiritual perspective, along with discernment
  • have gained new spiritual desires (though the old ones often remain as well)
  • have a new standing before God based on Christ’s righteousness, not our filthiness
  • have direct fellowship with the Father
  • are no longer “in Adam” though we remain flesh and blood
  • based our lives on Christ our Lord and Savior – the Center of all things
  • transcend the earthly and temporal because we are in Christ

There is much more, but aren’t these things enough to get us started in praising God for what He has provided and continues to uphold? The more of His Word we learn, the more we will have to praise Him for, but we need not be tongue-tied when it comes to wondering how and why to praise Him.

If we are to obey Scripture and take every wayward captive thought, we must discipline ourselves to use praise as the substitute for those wayward thoughts. This is how our free will comes into play. We can allow ourselves to let our wayward thoughts guide us to their end, which won’t be pretty, nor will they honor God, or we can deliberately and purposefully use our free wills to choose to replace those wayward thoughts with praise. Right now, I can see no better way to honor and bring glory to our God, Creator, Savior, and Lord, can you?

We must endeavor to praise Him because He and He alone is worthy of our praise. There is no way that wayward thoughts will be able to continue if replaced with praise.

When you realize you have wayward thoughts in your mind, do not waste time berating yourself about it. Simply mentally switch gears, offering Him praise for a variety of things. If you feel the need, then praise Him for His forgiveness when your mind does stray and then move on.

If you fall down, do you get back up right away (provided nothing’s broken) or do you emotionally beat yourself up because you fell? Don’t you simply get back up and use that emotional frustration or anger to force yourself to move on?

Praise God all the time. Take captive every thought. By praising Him, you don’t have to waste time thinking about specific thoughts to replace the wayward ones. You simply praise Him and your mind will follow.

Begin the practice of directing your mind today, by praising Him every time you realize the thoughts of your mind are trying to take you away from Him! In that way, we will be fulfilling Colossians 3:2, which tells us to set our minds on the things that are above.

[1] J. Sidlow Baxter, Awake, My Heart – Daily Devotional Studies for the Year (1960), p. 334

Entry filed under: Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation.

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  • 1. Sherry  |  November 17, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    I really liked the visual you gave about getting back up after falling! I needed to hear that.

    I like to think that I’m giving the devil a headache by praying for the person I’m having an awful thought about. Praying and praising-it has to make the enemy of our souls ill as it lifts us up above his wiley schemes.

    • 2. modres  |  November 17, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      I agree, Sherry. When we pray for others and praise God for what happens in our life, how can the enemy hang around?

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