Written By: Dana Hoebek
Many Christians have read this verse. Most have no idea exactly how to do it. It seems like something we should do, seems important.
This article is written with the born again believer in mind. One who has accepted Christ as their Savior and is indwelt with the Holy Spirit. That is the only way this will work, is through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The battle field of every human is the mind. It is where you become more like your surroundings and circumstances or more like Christ. It is where pride and self-sufficiency happen or surrender happens. It’s where you decide if you are going to live as who you are in Christ or how you and the world think you should live. You either have a defense built toward Satan and the influences of this world or you do not. Scripture says our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the Spiritual powers of this world.
This verse is revolutionary, especially in today’s world of self-centeredness. Through a heart- wrenching, life changing experience I have learned just exactly how important this verse is. There is a way to do this and based on the circumstances you are in, there are steps to success.
This verse is literally an instruction that will change the course of your life. I am talking big things like, never gossiping again, never picking up a drink for the alcoholic, staying sexually pure for those struggling with lust or impure relationships, not being cold-hearted and mean in your speech, stop swearing, and, in my estimation, a huge one- overcoming emotional trauma from abuse.
I’m going to list the ways I have learned to use this verse as both a guide post, reminder and support system. I will tell you up front, this is not a “one and done” type of thing. It is daily choosing Christ, putting on the full armor of God according to Ephesians 6:10-18. You have to be diligent and look to the future where Christ gets the victory and you are free!
- What it means– Any sinful thing, thoughts or otherwise that sets itself up against the Lord your God. Scripture is full of verses and descriptions of what sin is. If you are a believer and the Holy Spirit resides in you, He will tell you when it’s sin, you need to listen and heed the warning. To take captive the thought is to literally put it into bondage. It doesn’t get to rule, reign and wreak havoc. It doesn’t get to set up house and live in your head. It doesn’t get any control whatsoever. You are in charge of your thoughts and you are responsible for them and what you do with them.
- Recognition and Repentance- When you’ve been involved in something sinful, been abused, or have some sort of an addiction that won’t leave you alone, your thought life can be a nightmare. You can feel like you’ll never be freed from it. You’ve got to recognize what the thoughts are and where they lead you, take charge before they start to control you. Repentance comes when you’ve turned away from sin and do not want to do it any longer. Changing your thought life is exactly that, turning away from something old and changing it to something new.
- The Power in His Name- There is no way to do this without the power of Jesus. He’s the creator and sustainer of this earth and He created your mind, He has the power to change it. Your job is surrender. Believe me, I know it’s not easy and it doesn’t feel good to give up control- coming from a formerly enslaved control-freak. Did you see that first part “formerly”? I can tell you how to do this with some authority of experience because what I have had to walk through to find freedom is no small task and I am here to tell you it’s possible. When my thoughts would overtake me, crash down on me like a tidal wave, I knew in my heart I had to cry out to Jesus for deliverance. It came small and weak at first, but I was open to surrender because I had no other way, nothing else worked. As I practiced day in and day out, sometimes several times an hour, I began to watch the miracle work. I’d say “Lord Jesus, I don’t want these thoughts, I want to have the mind of Christ. I refuse to let them take charge over me, Lord please change my mind. Help me to think new thoughts, I give this to You and ask You to change me”. Sometimes it was more of a short plea “God I can’t do this, I need you to do this for me”. One thing I can tell you for certain, He hears your cry and comes to your aid. It is completely in God’s will for your mind to be transformed to be like Christ and when you ask that of Him, He’s all over it, no doubt about it!
- Do Not Give Up- Honestly, it’s tiresome. Some days I just want to be done and give up, Christ reminds me of how far we’ve come together and that he going to finish the work He started in me. What you will learn is true daily dependence on God. The issue you’ve got is that Satan has had a heyday putting up His wall paper of lies in your head. Your feelings of worthlessness, guilt and shame, hatred towards someone, desire for justice without mercy instead of love, selfishness with your time, talents or treasures, the overwhelming desire to talk about someone behind their back, to justify your bad behavior, make up lies or excuses, shift blame, lust after someone in your head and justify it by not telling anyone or blaming your circumstances, feeling entitled to your feelings no matter what they are because someone caused you to feel that way. ALL of those things and many more are things Satan plays with in your head. I’m telling you in all earnest, if you allow any of those to marinate in your head and you give them any time to ruminate around, you will have a terrible time being successful. This can create a foothold for Satan in your mind. If it stays there and you allow it to remain, Satan will always come back to that area and harass you with it. You have to be diligent to remind yourself you are changing and God’s doing a work in you. Take that thought captive, don’t let it go any further.
- What to do instead- Once you begin to take the thought captive and turn it over to God, you begin tearing down the wall paper Satan has put up. You’ve got to put up the wall paper of God’s Word in place of it or Satan will come back with a vengeance to take back what he lost. All that time you spent in those thoughts, whatever your circumstances may be, you now have to spend time reading God’s Word and becoming familiar with it enough to use it in time of need. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching and reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” You’ve got to read and find verses that help you through your circumstances and that replace the old sinful thoughts that lead to sinful behavior.
- Reimaging or thinking about it in a new way- Sometimes memories and thoughts are just so powerful and tangible that they bury you. I have learned to renounce the sin that was held in that memory or thought and declare out loud that it has no power over me anymore. There’s something powerful in the spoken word. When you can declare to that thing that you are forgiven and freed it begins to take a new shape in your head from something that was held over you and had power to condemn, to now nailed to the Cross. You can be free and can say so out loud! I have also had to make a new memory in an old place before, or even envision the cross around the memory.
- Examples and suggestions- I have had quite a myriad of experiences ranging from normal people problems of selfishness and gossiping to alcoholism, sexual immorality and abuse recovery. I understand exactly how hard this is but I also understand the irreplaceable feeling of being free and victorious. When you need verses for your circumstances, look in your concordance or in a topical scripture guide online. Ask God to help you think how He thinks about that person or thing you went through. Even if being loving and forgiving is the furthest thing from your mind, ask Him to do the work of changing your heart and mind, He will do it. Read the Psalms until you find yours. I promise you, it’ll jump off the page at you when you find it. God breathed those words thousands of years ago with you and your hurt in mind. When I was a struggling alcoholic, thoughts of drinking again would threaten to overtake me, and I’d pray immediately for God to help me and remove the temptation, to help me change my mind. Each and every time God was faithful. When you are overcoming desires to gossip you need to think about that person like Christ does. He died for them and loves them as much as He loves you. When you have been abused and you are haunted by images and memories, you must stop them the second they come into to your head and pray immediately. There is no other way to find victory. Time will be a helper and aid towards you not feeling physical pain at the reminders, but the only way to not allow it to overtake you and gain the control over you is to grab it without hesitation and pray. Pray asking God to change the memory, ask Him to remove it or to lessen the pain, ask Him to give you a new image like the cross around it, or a verse to quote when it threatens you. Sometimes memories are the worst part of recovery and that’s why this exercise is so important. God didn’t put it in the Bible to offer a suggestion, He put it in there knowing we’d need to actively practice it daily in order to allow Him to transform us into the image of Christ. These are the ways I have done this and have found victory. I hope it can be helpful to someone else