By William Mc Nicol
SESSION THREE: TAKING YOUR THOUGHTS CAPTIVE
Read together: 2 Cor. 10:4-5; Phil. 2:l2-13; Dt. 28: l-2; Eph. 4:22-25
We established in Session One that “as a person THINKS within himself so he is’ (Prov. 23:7). It is of great importance how we think and what we think about because this will play a central role in the forming of our character, personality and behaviour patterns. We are not at the mercy of every passing thought which drifts into our minds – we have the ability to take each one captive and control it. (See 2 Cor. 10:4-5).
A. YOU ARE IN CONTROL.
In His wisdom God created us with a free will. We are creatures of choice able within certain bounds to determine our own success or failure in life.
This ability to exercise free will and choice extends into the area of thought and mind control. You can CHOOSE what to think about and therefore affect the type of person you will ultimately become. Consider together the following scriptures, noting particularly what we are required to do for ourselves: – 2 Cor. 10:5; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:2; Phil. 4:8.
Our responsibility is to ‘take captive’, ‘put off, and ‘put on’, ‘think about’ – in other words, let our minds dwell only on wholesome thoughts. We must literally sift our thoughts and entertain only those that will work for good in our lives.
B. TAKE AND MAKE
“We TAKE captive every thought to MAKE it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
In order to take hold of a thought, make it obedient to Christ’s authority and then deal with it accordingly, we must have a rule for sorting our thoughts – we must have a thought filter. Working together, the Spirit in you and your knowledge of the Word equip you to deal with every wrong thought.
Each thought needs to be taken captive and filtered out to find out:
· Does it agree with God’s Word?
· Does it grieve or rest easily with the Holy Spirit within me? (Eph. 4:30).
It is then handled accordingly. An easy way to remember how to filter thoughts is by memorising three simple words:
RECOGNISE: Recognise the source of the thought by lining it up with your knowledge of God’s Word and what the Spirit says to your heart.
REFUSE: If its source is Satan, refuse to dwell on it. Actively put the thought out of
your mind. If necessary, speak out loud to Satan, strongly resisting his
intrusion into your mind. (Jas. 4:7).
REPLACE: Replace the negative, evil, critical, impure thoughts with God’s Word.
C. GUARD THE GATES.
Someone once said: “If you keep your mind sufficiently open, people will throw a lot of
rubbish into it”.
Many of the wrong thought patterns that produce a battle in our minds can be prevented simply by guarding the access points or gates to our minds.
(i) GUARD WHAT YOU LOOK AT (See Mt. 6:22-27).
Many thoughts find access to your mind through what you see. The T.V. programmes and videos you watch, your internet viewing, the books and magazines you read, the films you go to see can all be a springboard for positive or negative thinking. Horror stories, sordid novels and dubious T.V. plays give Satan an opportunity to plant a range of evil thoughts in your mind. Instead, feed your mind with good things, by reading the Scriptures and other helpful literature and by watching films and videos that are edifying as well as enjoyable.
(ii) GUARD WHERE YOU GO.
Many thoughts are triggered off by our being in the wrong place. (See David for an example of this is 2 Sam. 11:l).
If you know that attending certain parties or going to specific places will give Satan an opportunity to put wrong thoughts your way – don’t go!
(iii) GUARD WHO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME WITH. (Prov. 22:4-25; 1 Cor. 15:33).
It is a fact that we become like those with whom we spend our time. This doesn’t mean that we should never mix with non-Christians. It does, however, put a responsibility on us to choose our friends wisely.
(iv) GUARD WHAT YOU LISTEN TO.
What we hear goes into our minds whether we like it or not. We then have to deal with it. We can, however, take some preventative measures, e.g.:
· Listen to good music with wholesome lyrics.
· Don’t entertain gossip. (See Prov. 20:l9)
· Don’t let negative words fill your mind with doubts and fears.
Watching the late news on T.V. can give Satan this access to some people’s minds. Put Isa 26:3 into practice.
(v) GUARD YOUR REACTION TO YOUR FEELINGS.
So often the ‘Monday morning blues’ or changing moods enable Satan to plant wrong thoughts in your mind. Instead, fill your mind with good things, no matter how you feel. Look up Phil. 4:8 and put it into practice.
We need, therefore, to guard the gates of our minds. In this way we will immediately reduce the ability of the enemy to sow wrong thoughts into our minds.
We need to take captive and make obedient to Christ any thoughts that do pass the gates. In this way you will fill your mind only with God’s thoughts and this will speed the transformation of your whole being into the image and likeness of Christ. (See 2 Cor. 3:18).
1. How do God’s incentives help us to choose to live and think His way?
2. How do we handle recurring wrong thoughts?
3. Discuss together the effect that people around us can have on our ability to take our
4. Share with the group what has been the most helpful part of this session to you personally, and why.
1. Memorise 2 Cor. 10:5.
2. Identify particular areas where you struggle regularly with wrong thoughts.
Apply the ‘thought filter’ (Section ‘B’ ) to those areas by memorising suitable scriptures with which to replace the wrong thoughts.
3. Prayerfully consider why the conflict in your mind occurs.
Are you guarding the gates of your mind? (See Section ‘C’).
Be prepared to make radical changes in your lifestyle if necessary.