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6 Ways to Take Your Thoughts Captive as 2 Corinthians 10:5 Says

  • Richard L. Ganz
  • Updated Jan 31, 2024
6 Ways to Take Your Thoughts Captive as 2 Corinthians 10:5 Says

What is taking your thoughts captive?

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we are to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Taking your thoughts captive simply means gaining control over what you think about yourself and life.

Why does taking your thoughts captive matter so much?

What you put in your mind has an effect on what you think. Remember those scary movies you watched as a kid, then had nightmares? It didn't take long to realize that the way to avoid the nightmares was to stop watching that kind of movie. God has provided a way to overcome unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and gain the self-control you seek. It's a matter of taking charge of your life - His way. 

The wars we fight are not against flesh and blood but against invisible spiritual forces. Download our FREE Spiritual Warfare Prayers Guide to help you combat these forces that are warring every day.

Here are 6 ways to take your thoughts captive:

1. Accept responsibility for your thoughts. 

You have the ability to exercise control over your thoughts. God warned Cain to focus his mind on the right things, but Cain chose to think about the wrong things - anger and jealousy - which led to his murderous actions. Are you willing to admit that you can, with God's help, regain control of your thoughts - and think enabling thoughts instead of disabling ones?

2. Your mind - not just your behavior - must change. 

God calls us to change sinful behavior that does not honor Him. Instead of focusing on your outward behavior, work on disciplining your mind - from which the behaviors stem. Allow God to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).

3. Think through your problems rather than just react to them. 

When you experience difficult challenges, you can react to them and think yourself into despair every time. Or you can look forward to the next opportunity and ask yourself what you learned from this failure. Is your first thought I'll never do anything right? You don't have to get trapped by disabling thoughts. You are capable of getting out of your shame, despair, hopelessness, and anger - by taking control of what your mind focuses on - taking your thoughts captive.

4. Take your disabling thoughts captive through confession. 

Paul urges us to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (Rom. 12:21). Confront your disabling thoughts. Turn them over to God and become who He sees you can be. It will take work to take your thoughts captive each time they pop into your mind. But it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. 

5. Choose to focus your thoughts on the right things. 

We are to think about those things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable" (Phil. 4:8). When we think about those things, God promises to give us His peace. What a contrast that is to the thoughts of millions of people today. Don't look to a movie, TV show, or how-to formula to accomplish this for you. It takes personal discipline and commitment. One of the easiest ways to take your thoughts captive is to fill your mind with the things of Christ.

6. Believe it is possible to take your thoughts captive. 

It is not easy to retrain your thoughts or to respond in new Christ-like ways. Take heart: as God empowers you to focus your mind on the right things, it will become easier. You can develop a new frame of reference, based on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

It is possible to live a life aware of our thoughts and taking them captive! God gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us. Start following these steps today to gain power over your mind and thoughts.

Additional Study Resources on 2 Corinthians 10:5

It's often helpful to read several different translations of a Bible verse. Different translations use various words and phrasings to convey the original text's meaning. When a verse is difficult to understand in one translation, reading it in another may provide clarity and enhance your comprehension of the passage. Let's take a look at some different versions of this passage:

Putting an end to reasonings, and every high thing which is lifted up against the knowledge of God, and causing every thought to come under the authority of Christ (Bible in Basic English)

We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. (New Living Translation)

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (English Standard Version)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (King James Version)

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. (The Message Bible)


The Commentary Critical and Explanatory gives the following insights: "True knowledge makes men humble. Where there is exaltation of self, there knowledge of God is wanting [BENGEL]. Arrange the words following thus: "Bringing every thought (that is, intent of the mind or will) into captivity to the obedience of Christ," that is, to obey Christ. The three steps of the apostle's spiritual warfare are: (1) It demolishes what is opposed to Christ; (2) It leads captive; (3) It brings into obedience to Christ (Romans 1:5 , 16:26). The "reasonings" ( "imaginations") are utterly "cast down." The "mental intents" ("thoughts") are taken willing captives, and tender the voluntary obedience of faith to Christ the Conqueror."

Wesley's Explanatory Notes gives this powerful description of 2 Corinthians 10:5: "Destroying all vain reasonings, and every high thing which exalteth itself - As a wall or rampart. Against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought - Or, rather, faculty of the mind. Into captivity to the obedience of Christ - Those evil reasonings are destroyed. The mind itself, being overcome and taken captive, lays down all authority of its own, and entirely gives itself up to perform, for the time to come, to Christ its conqueror the obedience of faith." 

A Prayer to Take Every Thought Captive

Dear Heavenly Father, I come before you seeking the strength and wisdom to take my thoughts captive, as your Word encourages me to do. Help me, Lord, to recognize and reject thoughts that are not aligned with your truth and righteousness.

Grant me the discernment to identify negative, anxious, or sinful thoughts as they arise, and empower me to replace them with thoughts that are pure, lovely, and praiseworthy, as your Word teaches in Philippians 4:8. May my mind be a dwelling place for your truth and light.

I surrender my thoughts, fears, and anxieties to you, knowing that your presence and guidance will help me overcome every mental battle. Strengthen me to resist the schemes of the enemy and to hold every thought captive under your authority.

Fill my mind with your peace, love, and grace. Let your Word be my shield and your Spirit my guide as I strive to keep my thoughts in alignment with your will. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Richard L. Ganz, Ph.D., clinical psychology, previously served on the clinical psychiatry faculty at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y., and is an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University. He also spent five years working with Dr. Jay Adams at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Philadelphia. He is now a pastor in the Ottawa Reformed Presbyterian Church and president of Ottawa Theological Hall in Canada.

Video credits for audio, video, photos: Soundstripe, Storyblocks, LightStock, ThinkStock

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy-to-read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within the Scripture context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart
All Things Work Together for Good
Be Strong and Courageous

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I Can Do All Things Through Christ
The Lord is my Shepherd
Be Still and Know that I Am God

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