Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
Our mind is a battleground. Multitudes of thoughts bombard us all the time. Did you realize that the problems we face are internal - in our thoughts and attitudes? Satan knows that if he can control our thoughts, then he can control our actions. We cannot have a positive life with a negative mind. Taking negative thoughts captive is not easy. You know as well as I that there are times when our mind just doesn’t want to listen. The lies of the enemy are vicious. Destructive strongholds try to invade our minds every day, and it takes commitment and discipline to control our thoughts. We have to put our whole heart into it.
Did you know that in the Kentucky Derby, a horse race in the U.S., the winning horse runs out of oxygen after the first mile? He runs the rest of the race with his heart. Great athletes understand this truth. Michael Jordan, the great NBA legend, says that "heart" is what separates the good from the great. How does this apply to our thoughts? This means that you must decide to take negative thoughts captive with all your heart if you want to see breakthrough in your life. You can't casually apply this truth. Just like the race horse, you must consciously determine to fight and win. Commitment starts in the heart.
"At times it will be very hard, and committing to take negative thoughts captive will be the only thing that will carry you through the hard times." --John Maxwell
Then how can we possibly break these destructive strongholds in our mind? How can we be aware of these defeating thoughts? The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 that the weapons of our warfare are not of the world, but they are divinely powerful for the destruction of strongholds. We can't destroy these strongholds by ourselves - we need divine help because the battle is in the spiritual realm - we need God to show us the lies we believe. God is divinely powerful to demolish strongholds. So often we try to do it ourselves; we determine to solve the problem on our own. We take surface thoughts captive and not the thoughts underneath that are feeding those thoughts. We must ask God to show us the strongholds. We need the Holy Spirit's help. We must give him permission to deal with the strongholds in our life. He is the one who can break the power of the lie. You can pray right now and give God permission to show you the strongholds in your life:
"Lord, I realize that I cannot destroy the strongholds in my life by myself. I need your divine power. I give you permission to show me strongholds in my life. I invite you into the center of my life to reveal to me the lies I have believed. I acknowledge my dependence on you to do it."
The only way we can combat these lies is by truth. God's Word is truth (John 17:17). It's our weapon (Ephesians 6:17). God's Word has power! It's living! It's active! It judges our thoughts and our attitudes (Hebrews 4:12). It can defeat those schemes and devices of the enemy. It can show us if our thinking is lining up with divine truth. It's time we exalt God's Word more than our human reasoning. Satan wants to trip us up, but God wants to bless us with his truth. Satan wants to bring hopelessness into our life that paralyzes our faith in God and His promises. He is out to destroy our destiny.
- Let's learn to respond to God and believe his truth in our everyday experiences.
- Let's allow his truth to be our final authority.
- Let's let him expose those lies that we have believed most of our life.
- Let's repent of wrong ways of seeing life that are contrary to Scripture.
- Let's learn to take our thoughts captive on a daily basis.
Realize that believing the lies of the enemy rather than God's truth is offensive to God. It's sin because we don't believe what he has said in his Word. But he will demolish those lies as we confess them and wield the sword of his truth in prayer, praise, and proclamation.
Disciplining Your Thought Life
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Picture in your mind a wrestler who is working out with weights, and you probably can imagine that his face is wrinkled with a sweaty look of determination and with veins bulging out of his neck and arms. It would certainly look extremely painful, and all of us have experienced pain if we're alive. But experiencing discipline is a choice. We hurt from discipline, but we will also hurt without it. The wrestler's pain is good and helpful. He gets stronger and hopes to win the wrestling match. But if he didn't practice lifting weights, he would experience losing to his opponent and it would be a pain of regrets.
Taking thoughts captive to Christ takes discipline. We have to discipline our thought life. We are not waging war as the world does. We have to study God's Word and cling to the truth. We have to be alert to the lies of the enemy. We have to pray and depend on God to demolish the strongholds in our lives. We have to work hard at taking captive every thought. The Apostle Paul lived a disciplined life. He forced his body into subjection so that he would win the prize. He went into strict training for God. He wanted to win. It was hard and unpleasant at times I am sure, but he wanted the prize. He had no pain of regrets. The pain of working hard was nothing compared to losing the prize.
Disciplining yourself by taking your thoughts captive is well worth the pain. It is learning to say no to the attacks and fiery darts of the enemy. It is learning to say yes to God’s way of victory, peace, and joy. Cultivating a life in God's Word and believing and praying his thoughts takes time and work, but it is well worth the effort. If we want to be successful in the end times, we must take our thoughts captive. We must have a holy resolve to believe God's truth rather than Satan's lies. The situations on earth in these last days are going to be extremely difficult. We must have a strong handle on God's truth in order to have victory. We must learn to say no to everything the devil throws at us. The enemy fights hard because he knows that his time is short. Who wants to believe a lie? Who wants to live a defeated life? The value of taking our thoughts captive is so worth the effort, and it becomes an increasing delight to live from the rich treasure of God's Word.
For an assignment this week, give God permission to show you the strongholds in your life. Continue thinking about what you are thinking about during the day. Write down your thoughts whenever you fall into a negative emotion. Ask yourself, "What am I thinking right now?" "What just happened that brought me into a negative emotion?" Write it down. Watch for patterns of negative thoughts. You will often come to the same negative thought such as "Nobody loves me," "I'm always alone," or "I can never do anything right." If you see the lie that you believe in your thoughts, confess it to the Lord as sin. You are believing a lie which is contrary to God’s truth. Confessing the lie is a big step towards breakthrough. For additional help, pray the following prayer every day for the next two weeks.
A Breakthrough Prayer for Taking Thoughts Captive
"Lord, I pray that you would help me understand the enemy's strongholds in my life. Please help me to close all open doors to the lies of the enemy. I want to see breakthrough prayer and have victory in my thought life. Show me any false beliefs that are contrary to your Word. Show me when I trust my own thoughts rather than your Word. Help me not to become captive to Satan's schemes. I want to develop a stronger lifestyle in meditating on your Word. Show me any area in my life where I have embraced a lie instead of your truth. Show me when I am listening to the enemy instead of you. Make me aware of what lies I am entertaining when I get into negative emotions. Help me to see patterns of false beliefs. Bring revelation of the enemy's strongholds in my life.
I choose to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I choose to believe your Word. I choose to listen to you on a daily basis. Teach me to think about what I am thinking about. I don't have to let Satan outwit me because I am not unaware of his schemes in my life (2 Corinthians 2:11). I thank you that there is no falsehood in you. 'I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws… I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free’ (Psalms 119:15-32). In Jesus name, amen."
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalms 18:2).
Together in the Harvest,
Original publication date: May 23, 2009