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. 2 Corinthians 10:5
I will be honest: this task overwhelms me. Every thought? Every single thought that comes into my head? How is that possible? This is a Holy Spirit-inspired command. Yet it is one that I have become too willing to avoid, too willing to dismiss–an assignment I am too willing to save for tomorrow. How do we find the time, energy, or even the desire to direct every thought in our heads to obey Christ?
We all know that the deepest corner of our mind is the absolute last place we want people to see. But I am learning that when we avoid taking authority over our minds, the devil gains a foothold and the darkest parts of our mind slowly start to take over. And this is right where the enemy wants us.
Martin Luther once said, “Temptations, of course, cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair.” I would agree. Thoughts come and go–they come from nowhere and suddenly are upon us. We have all asked ourselves: where in the world did that thought come from? What made me think that? But the thoughts themselves are not the issue. What will you do when the bird tries to perch? Will you let it make its home with you?
Different metaphors have helped me change the way I think about the way I think. My favorite is the air traffic controller. I get to determine which planes will land in the complex comings and goings in the airport of my mind. I direct where my thoughts arrive.
God has been teaching me to separate myself from my mind. To separate me from my thoughts and feelings. Yes, it is my mind. Yes, those are my thoughts and feelings. No, they do not define me. I am defined by Christ, every part of me is sanctified by His perfection. I must be ruled by the Spirit. Like Romans 8:6 (NIV) says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
When we are not ruled by the Spirit, the rule of the flesh governs our minds. Scripture makes it clear that this is neither life nor peace. A mind governed by the flesh will inevitably lead to an overcrowded airport, a head full of bird nests.
But what does that mean? How do I take my thoughts captive? How do I make them obedient?
We cannot do this alone. Yes, it is daunting and impossible when we are left to our own strength. We are weak. We need the help of Jesus, who tenderly says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV). Those words are in red. They are from the mouth of Christ. His power is perfect when we surrender our weaknesses to Him.
God’s Word is clear on what is True. His words are what we should always dwell on, especially when our thoughts are overwhelming. With the help of Christ, we can hold every thought next to scripture and judge whether it is true, noble, right, pure, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8 NIV).