“for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NET).
What does it mean to “take every thought captive to Christ”? For example, how should we respond when a hateful, malicious, or derogatory thought occurs to us? Perhaps we didn’t mean to engage in such thinking but suddenly, an inappropriate, blasphemous, or offensive idea seemingly materialized out of nowhere. How should we react when such things take place?
Well, the first step in addressing this issue is found in the New Testament book of 1 John: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We can begin to establish a more God-honoring thought life when we recognize the sinful nature of such thoughts and seek God’s forgiveness through Christ. We can then ask for God’s help to think and act in ways that are good and acceptable to Him. In this manner, we can begin to “…keep every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ” (NIRV).
But what if we’ve taken these steps but still don’t feel forgiven? The answer to that question is covered in the Scriptures as well: “…if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20). For instance, it is not unusual for someone to experience a “guilty conscience” regarding an inappropriate thought or action. In fact, its not uncommon for people to say, “I know that God has forgiven me but I don’t feel forgiven” or, “I know that God has forgiven me but I can’t seem to forgive myself.”
In these instances, it’s helpful to remember that God is greater than our feelings, our consciences, or our emotions. If God (who is all knowing, all powerful, and all good) says we are forgiven, then we are forgiven no matter what our thoughts, feelings, or emotions may tell us. Remember, “Whenever our conscience condemns us, we will be reassured that God is greater than our conscience and knows everything” (GW).
We’ll look at some additional strategies to help establish a more God-honoring thought life and “…take every thought captive to obey Christ” (ESV) next.