"We demolish arguements and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5).
For most of my life I've thought that taking every thought captive was actually impossible. It just seemed like something I couldn't do.
I mean . . . who doesn't have thoughts that wander sometimes?
And how am I really supposed to think about God and His ways all the time?
How do I actually stop thinking about things I know I shouldn't? It seems like the harder I try to stop thinking about it, the more I end up thinking about it.
I've been challenged lately that maybe I've had it wrong when it comes to taking every thought captive. Not that doing so is wrong; Scripture is pretty clear that we should. But, what if I've been wrong in my understanding of what taking every thought captive means - what it looks like?
We all have things happen in life that stay with us. We think about them as drive, as we shop, as we work, as we watch TV, as we go to sleep. They can be good or bad. They don't have to consume all our thoughts, but they are things we give some time to.
When it comes to sinful thoughts, worry, anxiety, and so many things we know aren't from God, the most common advice I've heard is to just stop thinking about them - to work harder at not thinking about them. And then I would feel even worse because when I tried harder to not think about them, I ended up thinking about them more. This led me to conclude that what Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 10:5 is impossible.
But, in one of the Bible studies I've been working through recently, the author challenged me to see things differently. She was talking about Isaiah 26:3, which says:
"You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in You."
(NIV, emphasis mine)
She started talking about what is meant by steadfast minds based on the original language. The picture of it made me think it might actually be possible to take our thoughts captive.
The idea in Isaiah 26:3 is one of leaning all of our thoughts onto God, so He can form them. It's not about what we do to change our thoughts, but about allowing God to form how we think about what we're thinking.
Taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ is about allowing Him to form how I think about things. When I do that, my thoughts change. I being to see things God's way and to think about what is good and pleasing to Him. It becomes possible to take my thoughts captive because it's no longer about me. It's about allowing God to form how I think about what I think - whatever it is I'm thinking about.