Thoughts that need to be taken captive.
Your father told you that you won’t amount to anything, and he was right. Look at you! You just lost your job. You’re a failure and a lousy provider. The barrage of thoughts rained down on the distraught man. With head down and hands on the steering wheel, he whispered, “How am I going to tell my wife? I am a failure.”
The woman looked lovingly down at her newborn daughter and smiled. You’re going to be just like your mother. She won’t want anything to do with you just as you don’t want anything to do with her. The smile deepened into a sad frown as a tear escaped from the young mother’s eyes. The precious moment disappeared as the poisonous words paved the way for fear to take hold.
Wait until they find out what you’ve done! Your parents will never forgive you. You’re such a disappointment. Drawing her knees up to her chest, the teenage girl buried her head and wept. Maybe you shouldn’t even be alive. You are just a mistake!
Every thought captive: their source.
Are these scenarios relatable? Before we can take every thought captive, we must first know where these thoughts come from. Consider the following passages:
Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last – salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth – the one who accuses them before our God day and night.” – Revelation 12:10, NLT
One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them… – Job 1:6, NLT
Notice that the Bible describes Satan as an accuser. If we want to accuse someone of something, we often start with the word you. “You did such and such. You are a jerk!” Look back to the above accusatory statements that were made to the man who lost his job, the new young mother, and the teenage daughter. All of them were hearing the accusatory word You.
When a distraught person was sharing their troubling thoughts, I asked them to be specific. They tearfully described the accusations. Why didn’t you know? Why didn’t you leave? You are emotional. You’re of poor character, and so on. In one brief moment, the continued dialogue instantly changed to, I am emotional. I have a weak character. It only took a split second before the accusations became a belief, and the belief became a statement.
Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) states that we are not “fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Satan and his demonic forces can’t read your thoughts, but they can infiltrate them and your dreams. If you have an accusatory thought that begins with “you”, recognize that the thought may not be yours. If it is not, fight against it. Do not listen to it! Take every thought captive!
Every thought captive: Who will you listen to?I picture it this way. A big, beautiful buffet is laid out before you. Tantalizing meats and juicy fruits greet you. As you sit down, you look around to see who’ll be sharing the meal with you. Satan comes walking up and whispers something to you.
You now have a choice to invite him to take a seat at the table and continue talking or you can take control of yourself and tell him to go away. Instead, you invite Jesus to the table and ask him to share the truth with you.
If Jesus is invited, the food tastes richer and sweeter. If Satan is allowed to sit with you, the food will become bland and tasteless as fear and anxiety take hold of you. It’s your choice. The point of the story is – who will you feed in your thoughts?
The danger of feeding the lies that the Devil is telling you is that they will become a belief system. It only takes a brief moment for a lie to become “truth” which will shape a person’s actions and life. This is why so many Christians struggle with fear, anxiety, and depression. They have inadvertently believed the wrong thing.
God in his divine wisdom has left us the ability to fight these troublesome thoughts that leave us depleted and anxious. Ephesians 6:13-18 gives a beautiful description of the armor and the weapon to use to take every thought captive.
The armor of God.
The problem most people face is the application of these verses in everyday life. I have my clients take their present circumstances and make a “warfare” plan using Ephesians 6. At this moment, think of what you are going through right now and journal these questions.
The belt of truth. what is the truth in this situation? Does the Bible say something about it specifically or a general principle?
The body armor of God’s righteousness. At the time of salvation, you are covered by the righteousness and holiness of Christ. Look up verses that describe this. How does God describe you? Holy, pure, adopted, child, friend, chosen, redeemed, etc. Believe these words to fight the accusatory statements of being worthless, not enough, and so on.
Shoes of peace that come from the Gospel. How can you bring peace to the situation? How did God bring peace to mankind? How can you show love? How can you be confident in an eternal outcome and share that hope?
The shield of faith. Faith is believing in the unseen. Trauma has a way of causing us to doubt God’s character and his promises. Faith says, “I will choose to believe whether or not I feel it.” If God has said it, then believe it regardless of what you’re feeling. What promises can you believe in your situation? What part of God’s character can you lean on?
The helmet of salvation. The helmet protects the head where our thoughts are located. At the time of salvation, God has given you the helmet to protect you from the manipulative accusations of the Devil.
You have been forgiven, redeemed, and given an eternal inheritance. Put the helmet on and don’t continue to listen, but rather follow the advice of Paul in Philippians 4:8 (NLT). What things are true, right, pure, lovely, and admirable on which you can focus?
Sword of the Spirit. Use the words given to you by God, himself. “For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT) What Scripture verses can you use to fight the lies?
Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to persistently pray in the Spirit and to stay alert for the attacks. Understanding who you are in Christ and that you have been given the authority from Jesus to be victorious, will help you strengthen and keep you as you battle the enemy, but before you get your armor on, you must first confess and repent of believing the lies.
Dealing with sin.
Neil Andersen says in his book Bondage Breaker, “Trying to win the battle for their minds without first dealing with the sin that is reigning in their mortal bodies will be nearly impossible.” (p. 159, Harvest House Publishers, 2019)
Once confession and repentance have been made, then you can renew your mind. Take a special note on this, repentance is a way of emptying yourself of sin. Be sure to immediately fill up on God’s truth by putting the armor on or else Satan can come back and refill that space again.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2, NLT
Christian counseling for taking every thought captive.
If you are struggling to apply these principles to your life and feel as if you live in defeat rather than in victory, reach out to a coach. I would love to fight alongside you.
“Thought Catalog”, Courtesy of Thought Catalog, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Locked,” courtesy of John Salvino, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Ruined”, Courtesy of Niel Taelman, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Medieval Soldier”, Courtesy of Jonathan Kemper, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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