September 9, 2016

Taking every thought captive

The motivational gift of teacher (Romans 12) has been defined as “having a deep desire for people to think biblically.” This ‘gift’ involves gathering information and presenting it in a way that empowers Christians to think with the mind of Christ. Of course those who have that gift must think biblically themselves.

For me, this means knowing Scripture and focusing on truth from the Word of God. It means not being “conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewal of my mind” so I can discern the will of God. (Romans 12:2) It also means obedience to Paul’s exhortation about how I think:

“Finally . . .   whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

This is a challenge. Satan uses lies tangled up in media, memories, and appeals to unmet human desires. Just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he nags at me and I need to fight back, but must remember . . .

“The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . . .” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5)

Besides putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) which includes prayer, I need to recognize what I am up against. From 2 Corinthians 10, Paul summarizes a worldly and sinful thought life . . .

Arguments = logical conclusions reached by false reasoning, arguing with words that are not true.

Lofty opinions = an exaggerated evaluation of who I am or what I have done, particularly in competition with what God says about me and my deeds.

Thought = the content of what I am thinking about.

These three cover any sort of logic that goes against the Word of God, anything that flows out of pride rather than humility, and whatever else I might think about that motivates a resistance to God. Remembering why Christ died helps me with some of it, as does reading the Bible and worshiping God in words and singing.

Dreams sometimes mess with godly thinking. One college professor told me that if a person remembers a dream, it usually means that dream relates to unresolved issues or conflicts in their life. This is helpful because dreams can push me to examine stuff that I have pushed away.

“We are apt to forget that a man is not only committed to Jesus Christ for salvation; he is committed to Jesus Christ’s view of God, of the world, of sin and of the devil, and this will mean that he must recognize the responsibility of being transformed by the renewing of his mind.” Oswald Chambers

Another wise person told me that Christian maturity requires bringing to the conscious mind that which was repressed, and then rethinking it biblically and putting it back. Since subconscious thoughts affect behavior, this process helps me understand why I do things. It also is part of what God does in renewing my mind.

But I cannot do this myself or make it happen, or even want it to happen. Only the Holy Spirit knows what and how to do it, and when. He can bring up repressed thoughts and events, help me examine them in the light of God’s Word, and gently resolve those buried issues.

This is what the Bible says about using divine power to destroy strongholds and bring every thought captive. 

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