The bible teaches us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), meaning we can control our attitudes and thoughts. Our thinking patterns determine who we are (Proverbs 23:5). Each of us has thousands of thoughts each day and who we are is shaped moment by moment by what we allow to remain in our heart and mind. But how can we control the thousands of thoughts we have? What do we do with the feelings and opinions that don’t help us to be Christians? How does a person, in reality, take every thought captive?
We must realize we are in a battle. Almost all battles we read of in New Testament Scripture refer to the inner battle that arises when a sinful thought tempts us. Often our thoughts are focused on the regular tasks we must accomplish each day. However, as we go through the day, we can catch thoughts and attitudes that are contrary to God’s will and keep us from gaining control of our mind and heart. Paul explains how this is possible: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself agains the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. Lets consider a typical daily situation where you might have the opportunity to take your thoughts captive: Perhaps your boss at work gives you a task that you hate, and negative, complaining thoughts come into your head. These thoughts are temptations—and you can do something about them before they enter your heart and become a part of you. It is these thoughts we need to take captive by choosing to obey the scriptures such as Philippians 2:14 “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.” Such a choice requires a real battle in our thought life, but the weapons of our warfare—the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit—are mighty to help us. By praying to God in the moment when we are tempted, we can receive the power to keep our thoughts pure.
When Jesus was tempted to turn stones to bread he said, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4. The Scriptures are mighty to help us take captive our thoughts. Jesus had armed himself by reading and meditating on the word to help him though the trials of his life. If we notice there are areas of our thought life that we find difficult to overcome, we can use Scripture to help us to overcome these things. If you are dealing with the temptation of lust, focus on Matthew 5:28-29. Those struggling with anger can think on James 1:19-20. Christians who have trouble seeing their self worth should memorize John 3:16-17. These words of God are our weapons, and will give us the power to take these thoughts captive!
As we keep our thoughts in check, we continue to stay in the grace and power of Christ. In this process, we become transformed into becoming the person God intends. We have the wonderful hope that by overcoming sin in our thoughts, we can become a little more like Christ each day. Allowing this inner work of God to take place in us is the greatest task we can take on in life.