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Taking Every Thought Captive

January 16, 2022 Save Article

2 Corinthians 10:3-5


All Christians fight in a deadly, sinister war. The war is between God and Satan, and the battleground is our minds.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

This is a warning and a call to arms, but also an encouragement, because when you were born again, you were born to win. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14a). God’s plan for you is victory—including in your thought life.

Know Your Spiritual Enemy

First, consider the warfare of our foe. Who has declared war against your thought life?

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). A deadly array of invisible demonic hosts is dedicated to destroying your thought life, under the authority of the prince of darkness. Satan desires to control your thought life, then to make your thoughts a citadel from which he can war against God.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians like a father watching over his daughter, trying to keep her pure. “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). The word simplicity means purity, sincerity, single-minded devotion. The devil wants to corrupt your mind.

Read Genesis 6—God destroyed an entire civilization because of the thoughts of the people. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

Our world has gone wild concerning the thought life. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7a). The devil wants your mind, to corrupt it from single-minded devotion to Christ.

But God also wants your mind, because it is through your mind that He reaches you. Your “mind” does not mean rationalism and intellectualism. God reveals Himself to your mind, and changes you by changing your mind. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Who is in charge of you? The Holy Spirit should be, because God communicates to you, changes you, and controls you through the mind.

Acknowledge Your Weakness

Second, consider the weakness of our flesh. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10:3). Your flesh, your natural state, does not have what it takes to have the right thought life. But we do not fight with flesh and blood, because we are not fighting against flesh and blood. (See Ephesians 6:12.)

Our battle is not with Democrats, Republicans, Communism, Hollywood, the IRS, or the mother-in-law. Our battle for the mind is against the devil, and he mocks at our schemes.

The battle for the mind will not be won with education. If you educate a man who does not know the Lord, you’ve only made a clever devil.

Legislation is not the answer, either. Do you think you will control men’s thoughts by laws? We try—we’re now punishing “hate crimes.” But legislation cannot make people good.

Environment is not the solution. Adam and Eve got in trouble in the Garden of Eden; you won’t have a better environment than that. They were deceived because the devil messed with their minds.

Education, legislation, environment—all of these are carnal, fleshly methods that people use without Christ. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4a).

Defend Your Mind

Third, consider the weapons of our fight. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

A stronghold is a fortress made with walls of resistance. What kinds of resistance were in the minds of the Corinthians? Arrogance, ignorance, despair—demonic thoughts, the organized armies of Hell. Then Paul mentions high things: intellectualism, high-minded attitudes, sophistication.

What are our weapons?

  1. The sovereignty of our Commander. We belong to Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 10:7.) He is our Commander in Chief. Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31).
  2. The authority of our commission. “For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed” (2 Corinthians 10:8). Authority is the legal right to act on behalf of another. Jesus, who has won the war, has given us authority. (Read Luke 10:19-20.)
  3. The certainty of our courage. People said, in effect, “Paul, you’re always writing these tough letters. Wait till you get here, you little weakling.” This is the Scripture: “‘For his letters,’ they say, ‘are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.’ Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present” (2 Corinthians 10:10-11). Paul says, in effect, “Because Christ has won the battle for me and given me authority, I have courage, and I will win.”

Once you take back the fortress of your mind, you need to set a guard. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Don’t let sin in.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

If you are thinking about what’s right, you can’t be thinking about what’s wrong. And as you think, so will you be. Center your mind upon the Lord Jesus. Stay in love with Christ, and there won’t be room for those filthy, wicked, lustful, prideful thoughts that bombard us all.

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