Have you ever struggled with your thoughts? Do you know what it means to be conflicted and wonder why you think about one thing or another? Do you understand what 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 means? …”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.” How do we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ? An errant thought can be as simple as a craving for ice cream when you are on a diet or it could be lust. The thing I learnt is that the active decision to deal with the thought is more important than the thought.
In history we have seen many wars where the winner of the war took prisoners a.k.a captives. In these wars, captives were taken for different reasons namely:
- To provide labour
- As proof of domination
Upon capture, the captives were vetted and the strong were kept while the weak were eliminated. Further to that, the ones who were kept were exposed to the local culture and religion in many different ways to ensure they would be able to fit into that society. The desired end was to have committed, dedicated, new members of the community. The enculturation in some communities like the Native American Indians included torture that would signify death to their previous life and the ‘saving grace’ of their captors or adopters.
The Bible even has stories where God allowed the children of Israel to be taken into captivity repeatedly to teach them a lesson and humble them.
So let’s apply these ideas to our thoughts. My interpretation of taking our thoughts captive borrows a leaf from the stories of the captives or prisoners of war. This may sound a bit drastic but I think it is a great parallel.
Some thought patters just need to be axed and killed. These are thoughts that are negative and of no value to anyone. They just need to face the fire burn them ashes and never rise again. I actually recommend ‘pouring kerosene’ on them before lighting them up. J In this life these are the thoughts that we bring to the foot of the Cross and in deep repentance distance ourselves from asking Papa to surgically remove them from our minds.
Other thought patterns maybe worth saving and will need to be retrained, re-cultured, re-worked to fit into the new mould as I am now a new creation. Take Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (aka Shadrack, Meshack & Abednego) in Dan 1:3-5, “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility – 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well-informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.[b] 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.”
Do you realise that it took three years to training of the young Israelite men? This is important to note as renewing our minds and thoughts isn’t a one day activity. It is a process with constant practice and accountability. It demands putting our thoughts under a microscope and containing them with a whip if need be.
I humbly put it to you that to renew our minds we need to:
- Change our thoughts through the exposure to a different pattern by reading, meditating on and memorising the Word of God
- Praying constantly
- Changing our close associations to a group of like-minded people
- Making a commitment to be open to others who can evaluate us for progress and give honest and open support or challenge new thought patterns.
These ideas seem so simple right? Yes they are. The challenging part is keeping up the action and dealing with the errant thoughts when they come. Errant thoughts? Yes. You see, there will be days when your thoughts will not align with where you are going. What will you do? This is the place for practice and reinforcement. It is here that you stop, restate the thoughts you are pursuing and start walking again.
Recently I had a ‘relapse’ to thoughts and desires I had given up. First, I was horrified. Yes, horrified that something like that could even happen. I wanted to run and hide under the bed away. I had somehow believed I was past the phase of relapse. Then I felt totally stuck…how would I deal with this situation? What did I need to do to make it to the other side? Suddenly I realised that my mind was wondering, the heart was following but thank God my soul was steadfast. That is the anchor that got me back on track.
As you walk in this life, keep watch over your thoughts and desires. When something is out of line:
- Stop and pray about it with full faith that Papa will give you the grace to make it through.
- Ask someone to come alongside you that you may be open and accountable for your growth.
- Remember that we grow in our faith one step at a time and Papa is with us every step of the way.
Teach us to walk closely with you that we may become more like you.