If you grew up in the church—or even if you didn’t—chances are you’re familiar with 2 Corinthians 10:5:
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.
We often hear this verse in its reduced form as an admonition to “take our thoughts captive” when temptation comes our way. But what does that look like in real life? If you’ve ever asked this question, here are five steps for taking thoughts captive when you’re tempted to sin.
- Know your weakness. We often regard “taking thoughts captive” as a battle related to lust and sexual sin, but this practice is applicable to many life events. Critical, judgmental or negative thoughts threaten our relationships. Depressed, bitter or self-deprecating thoughts threaten our joy and spiritual well-being. Any thought that is contrary to the Spirit of God and His goodness must be brought under the authority of Jesus so our minds are free to be filled with His truth. The first step in taking thoughts captive is to know your area of weakness. Is it judgment? Is it pride? Is it lust? Knowing where you struggle will help you pinpoint what thoughts need to be replaced.
- Acknowledge the lies. Wayward thoughts are almost always the product of the enemy’s lies. When we believe we have no value, we think self-deprecating thoughts. When we believe we are better—or worse—than others, we think critical and judgmental thoughts. When we believe our value comes from our sexuality, we think lustful thoughts. All of these beliefs are lies from our spiritual enemy! In order to take our thoughts captive, we must acknowledge what lies we are believing so we can embrace God’s truth.
- Embrace the truth. For each lie we’ve accepted, we now need to open God’s Word and expose ourselves to His promises. The Bible says we DO have value (Psalm 139:13-15). It says we are all equal in God’s eyes (Romans 2:11). God says our sexuality is designed for marriage, not to boost self-worth (Hebrews 13:4). Each of these truths counter the lies mentioned under point number two. Only by knowing God’s truth can we decipher Satan’s lies and sort through the thoughts we’ve been embracing.
- Replace evil with good. Now that you know the difference between what is true and what is false in your mind, you must replace the evil thoughts—anything contrary to God’s Word—with the good thoughts rooted in the truth of Christ! You are no longer in bondage to the lies of the enemy. Instead, you take the enemy’s lies captive and hand them over to Christ, who gives you strength, grace and value!
- Walk in obedience. For each thought you hand over to Jesus, you embrace a truth from His Word. This bolsters your confidence in your walk of faith. Each little step this direction takes you further down the path of obedience. God blesses the obedience and bestows His favor upon them! He delights to help those who follow His plan.
Our thoughts lead to action, and our actions determine the trajectory of our lives. By submitting our minds to the wisdom of Christ, we are actively waging war on the enemy and his mission against God’s children. Each thought replaced with God’s truth is an argument demolished for the sake of Jesus Christ.