“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7
Have you ever had trouble focusing on the here and now? Your mind wanders and you find yourself far away – in another world. An alternate reality.
Maybe that alternate reality is a sexual fantasy. Maybe it’s a murderous rampage. Or maybe it’s imagining that you’re someone else or you have someone else’s life.
Our thoughts matter. They are invisible to others, but they are closer to reality than we think. Whatever our minds conceive will eventually become our reality. We tend to think that nothing will happen unless we choose to make it happen. In actuality, what we conceive in our minds automatically becomes our reality if left unchecked.
In other words, the choice to do something happens first between our ears. Once the decision is made to think about something, we set the wheels in motion for that invisible thought to become an action.
Maybe I’m the only one – but have you ever been thinking so hard about something that you didn’t know if you were saying it or thinking it? It’s a little embarrassing, especially if you realize that you were saying it and someone was there to hear it.
We walk around thinking that our skull creates an impenetrable barrier that keeps our thoughts inside from getting out.
In actuality, we are continually broadcasting our thoughts into a world of our future behavior. So how do we make sure that broadcast is good, and that it’s working for us, not against us?
We take our thoughts captive in obedience to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thoughts to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV)
Have you ever done that? If so, are you good at it? If not, why not?
Like any discipline, taking your thoughts captive requires practice. First you have to decide you’re going to do it, and that usually requires deciding that you value your purity over the pleasure of sin.
If I have a bad thought come into mind, I will actually make a physical movement to engage my mind in taking it captive. I’ll shake my head, look away, or do whatever it takes to stop the thought process. Sometimes I’ll even physically make the motion of grabbing the thought out of the air and throwing it away from myself, or I’ll mentally visualize myself doing that. You might think that’s crazy, but it helps.
Second, you need scripture memorized to oppose the bad thought when it comes in. In this day and age of Google at our fingertips, there is no excuse for not being able to find scriptures that deal with whatever thought pattern we struggle with the most. Simply type in “scriptures about lust” or “scriptures about fear”, and you’re off to the races. Then either write it on a note card and tape it to your steering wheel or bathroom mirror, or load it into an app like Scripture Typer, which catalogs and helps you memorize the scriptures you identify.
Remember too that your thoughts are not always your own. Though we are all fully capable of coming up with our own despicable thoughts, the enemy of our souls is Satan and he goes around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. His demonic forces actively speak thoughts into our hearts and minds hoping we will take them as our own. And if they’re coming from him, they are always intended for our destruction.
Our mind is the battleground. It’s where we determine our future. We all have the free will to choose whether we let our minds run away with us, or if we’re going to renew it daily by taking our thoughts captive. What you choose will determine who you become.