Every Thought Captive
“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 against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10: 4&5
I was talking with a friend this morning who is struggling with depression. She knows that she will not have victory over it until she gains control of her thoughts, but she has not yet learned to do that consistently. Thought control is a difficult battle, but it can be won. The Lord has commanded us to take control of our thinking. We know this because of passages like the one above, and Philippians 4:8, which gives us a list, then tells us to “think on these things.” Our God does not give us commands that he will not enable us to obey. That would be cruel and unloving, two things that could never describe the God of the Bible. So this instruction on what we should and should not think about has to be possible for us, but how?
As believers, we are told many times in the Bible that victory is ours. In 2 Corinthians 2:14, Paul assures us of this: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” God always leads us in triumph; not sometimes, not even most of the time, but always. This is a promise that we can claim whenever our thoughts threaten to take us down into sadness and hopelessness. Just because our circumstances are difficult does not mean that we have to become sad or depressed. Christ will lead us in triumph, but we must follow. Have you ever tried to lead someone to do something they don’t want to do? Even when you know that your plan is the best one for that person, you cannot force them to follow. Neither will Christ force believers to think rightly about their trials. He simply offers the victory. We choose whether to trust Him or not, and our thoughts follow.
Another promise of victory comes to us in 1 John 5:3-5. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” If we are born of God, we are overcomers of the world. That world includes our current trial, and any we will face in the future. We have the victory that has overcome the world: Our faith. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died and rose again to give us that victory! My friends, this is the Gospel, and we need it every second of every hour of every day. It is the source and the outworking of our victory. Go to the Gospel. Meditate on it, proclaim it to yourself and anyone else who will listen, and you will have victory over your thoughts.
I could write all day about the many promises of victory that God has given us in His word, but I will share just one more passage of encouragement before I wrap this up:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
There are certain passages of Scripture that we believers tend to gloss over because they are so familiar. This little gem in Proverbs is one of those. Will you take a closer look at it with me now? I would especially like to draw your attention to the word all. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. I know that you are trusting in the Lord for your salvation, and even for your life in general. But are you trusting Him in this particular circumstance with all your heart, or are you reserving a corner of your inner self to ruminate on your fears and worries? If you are having trouble controlling your thoughts, my guess is that you have not entrusted Him with this problem with all your heart.
A follow-up question for you: Are you acknowledging Him in all your ways? You are probably reading your Bible and praying about your problem. You have likely sought out wise counsel. These are good and profitable ways that we acknowledge God. But what about your thoughts? Have you handed them over to the control of the Holy Spirit? Train your thoughts according to what you have read in the Word. When thoughts of your problems bring worry, fear, anxiety or sadness, claim the promises listed here, and search the scriptures for more. Even a simple Google search for Scriptures about controlling your thoughts brings up about 76,000 results!
God has promised victory in our thought life. We do not have to give in to negative emotions. When we claim our victory, we can lead others to triumph as well. This brings glory to God. He trains us for the battle against our flesh, teaches us to control our thoughts, and then leads us to others who are struggling as we are, so that we can comfort them with the same comfort we have received. Hallelujah! What a Savior!