Bringing Thoughts Captive
I'll begin this study by drawing on part of a counseling exchange that I had with a brother in Iraq who had been afflicted in his thought life. I'll use Bob for his name. The counsel helped free him up. Perhaps some of you are still struggling in the area of fears. I pray this study will help you.
This is Bible Study DU011 - Bringing Thoughts Captive
... Here is the counseling exchange adapted for this group....
Bob: I know the enemy is the "prince of the air" and I try to keep myself covered in prayer because of all the Muslim prayers that are broadcast over p.a. systems all around me five times a day.
Buddy: You are most correct that the enemy is called 'prince of the air.' Your situation is unique because of where you are. Islam is actually antichrist. Most people do not realize this. Satan has been preparing his antichrist armies for 1400 years in preparation for the count down.
I don't mean to begin on a negative note, but it is very important that you understand this. Where you are, the 'thoughts' of darkness will be everywhere. This is why you are having battles in your mind. To 'hear' Muslim prayer five times a day is certainly a downer.
Bob: Lately I've started having troubling questions pop into my mind, even when I'm in prayer or reading the Bible. Basically, I find myself thinking, "How can this be true? Does God really exist? Is Christ a reality?" Now, mind you, this all happens while I am in fervent prayer to God or reading about Christ. I try to tell myself "If you didn't believe you wouldn't be praying to Him so intensely and talking to Him so much."
Buddy: You are describing the battle of 'thoughts' perfectly. Two things are going to be very important for you in this regard. Foremost, recognize where all these doubts are coming from. (Remember Eve's battle.) Knowing this is the key to knowing how to do spiritual warfare correctly. Here is your foundation Scripture:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing [thoughts, etc.] raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2Co 10:4,5)
The second thing is going to come straight from you. This is the time to make quality decisions. I cannot stress this enough. Until you make a consistent, firm, and resolute decision that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, and that God's Word is true, regardless, your whole thinking process will be honeycombed with doubts. Indecision is the path of failure. This is why you find so much in the Bible about making choices. The Lord does not remove our ability to choose for Him. Also keep in the background of your faith that the Lord will reinforce every decision you make for Him.
Bob: I'm troubled by even entertaining these questions. God has been so merciful to me and blessed me so greatly. Jesus has redeemed me from the darkness into the Kingdom of Light by paying for my sins by His sacrifice upon the cross. I do NOT like these troubling thoughts.
Buddy: If you are going to doubt anything, doubt your doubts. Do not allow even for a moment any thought to remain that speaks against your faith in Jesus.
Other things you can do are:
(1) Each morning as soon as you have time, reach for your Bible and pray the prayer of David; "Open my eyes, Lord, that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law."
(2) Join yourself to another believer and begin to extend your fellowship circle. Ask the Lord to lead you in this.
(3) Keep writing me. I will support you in all that I can. Ask questions. Share your thoughts. I will never stop being your friend.
.... End of Exchange....
To continue the study lets see what the struggle was really about. Much of our 'bad' thinking is the result of an unhappy or worried mental or emotional state. Certainly the enemy takes advantage of this. The key will always center upon a spiritual realignment with the Lord. David said, "I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears." (Ps 34:4)
Paul knew about this. He said, "For even when we came to Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side; conflicts without, FEARS WITHIN." (2Co 7:5. Caps for emphasis only.) The apostle had received instructions from the Lord to go to Macedonia. Once he got there he needed assurances. Seems Paul's thoughts were going astray.
And then it happens; "The Lord said to Paul in the night in a vision, 'Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, for I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9,10) Just a word from the Lord shattered the struggles that Paul was having with his fears.
This is the bottom line on bringing thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. It begins with the Lord. He calls us to look to Him. Many times the Lord Himself initiates this looking process. We see this in the case of Abram. It says, "The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward will be very great.'" (Gen 15:1)
This gives us pause to reflect a bit more on the true nature of Biblical faith. Adam was created to live in harmony with the divine will. The harmony would flow through his fellowship with the Lord. When Adam accepted Satan's word over against God's word, he lost this harmony. The divine impulse was no longer in Adam.
When the Man from heaven entered our world He changed all this. Thus God now has a heavenly people on earth. Once again we can live in divine harmony with the Lord. The apostle gives us the key. He said, "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (Col 2:6)
Paul is speaking of our lives being conjoined to Christ, and that we are to live in the reality of our relationship with Jesus. To walk in Christ Jesus means to live in the reality of His personal Being. Jesus explains this in a single way; "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27)
And so, in the issue of spiritual warfare, which takes in battles of the mind, we are to allow no place for our divine harmony to be broken. This is why Paul said, "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2Co 10:5)
In the new covenant we are called to live out our lives by trusting Jesus Christ, that is, to live in constant fellowship with Him. Paul says it this way; "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Gal 2:20)
In the new covenant God left nothing to chance. Christ died for us. Jesus Christ lives in us. This is why the Bible says that Christ is our life. And this brings us to the real issue of living in a 'living faith.' The apostle said that our faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word (Rhema: living voice) of Christ." (Rom 10:17)
What then of bringing thoughts captive? It all comes back to two issues, divine harmony, and 'the peace that surpasses understanding. Anything that enters a believer's mind that creates doubt, or causes a disturbance of peace is to be cast down instantly.
This is something not all believers are well instructed in. The ruling presence of Jesus in the lives of His people comes under the banner of a spiritual peace that is unlike anything the world has to offer. Jesus said it plainly enough; "Peace I leave with you; MY PEACE I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. DO NOT LET your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid." (Jn 14:27 Caps for emphasis.)
The peace Jesus is speaking of is governmental peace. It belongs to the kingdom of the beloved Son. This kingdom peace is to mark out our walk with the Lord. It serves as the borders of protection. So, any time a thing enters our mind that disturbs our peace, we are to reject it immediately. This is why I shared with the brother in Iraq the need for quality decisions.
All I did for the dear brother in Iraq was to bring him back to his peace. Very often the Lord will use another brother to do this. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Mt 5:9)
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
This study was originally shared on July 26, 2006. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded and pastors Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added July 29, 2006
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