“We… take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5, ESV).
“What were you thinking??” We generally use this question to confront someone who has just made an unwise decision. It implies that no rational, sound thinking process could have led to such a course of action.
However, today I would like to propose another use for this question. Throughout the Scriptures, God invites us to think about what we are thinking about. He knows that the contents of our thought life are immeasurably important variable in our spiritual growth. He also knows that they play an indispensable role in our emotional health.
If you have been following Jesus for any length of time, you have likely heard the phrase, “the battlefield of the mind.” There is no overstating how important this concept is. Some of the most important battles you will ever fight will happen right between your ears. This is where the enemy sends his “fiery darts.” Those darts come into our inner space in the shape of harmful thoughts.
The enemy has honed the art of disguising these darts to sound like our own voice. This includes the use of personal pronouns. For example, a fiery dart could be a phrase along the lines of, “Those ‘friends’ of mine probably don’t even care that I’m sick.” Oftentimes, we don’t even realize it at first that a dart has hit us. But we start feeling its effects. A sense of foreboding, or worry, or irritation, or heaviness begins to invade our emotions.
As we grow in the Lord, He will teach us to catch on to these attacks. Whenever our peace comes under siege, we can learn to identify the dart that has hit us, and extinguish it with our shield of faith. When we notice that our emotions have shifted in a negative way, this is a perfect moment to pause and become attentive. With Holy Spirit’s help, we can lovingly ask ourselves, “What were you thinking?” Now, this question takes on a completely different meaning. No longer is it confrontational, but rather reflective and gentle.
So we take a moment to think about what we were thinking about. So many times, heavy emotions are directly tied to some specific thought that came into our mind. Holy Spirit will illuminate to us what that subtle thought-attack was. Once He identifies the specific lie or hopeless thought that came in, we can “take it captive to obey Christ.” This involves intentionally bringing to mind a corresponding Scriptural truth to replace the lie that has come against us. Out loud, we reject the lie and proclaim His Word over that area of our lives. This releases God’s victory into our mental and emotional space.
This may take only a moment, or it may take a significant battle. Either way, Holy Spirit is right there to give us the power for exercising Jesus’ authority in our thought life. We will find that as we resist the devil, he really will flee from us. As we get our thoughts in subjection to Jesus’ Lordship and truth, we can always move back into His peace. We will realize afterwards that our soul has “returned to its rest.” Our emotions have shifted back into a stable place.
Remember… “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16, NIV, emphasis mine).
“All!” This is your promise! You can extinguish every last one of them!
Is there a connection between winning daily battles in our thoughts, and “being transformed by the renewing of our minds”?