“Taking Captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Intentional: done on purpose; deliberate.
Since we’ve known each other for a few words now, I feel like its an appropriate time to lay it all out there. While it’s hard to admit, I have struggled at times with complacency, even apathy, when it comes to my walk with Christ.
It’s not usually a big, dramatic thing. It looks like a week of missed mornings in the Word here or days of not meeting with the Lord in prayer there. I find myself not loving my husband well or having a lot less grace for my kids. Any other imperfect people who need Jesus up in here?
It is important to note that otherwise my M.O. is hard working, consistent, exceeding expectations; you get the point. I feel like you’re either that person or you’re annoyed by those people, right?
Despite what my ‘rationale’ is at the time for these lulls, ultimately for me it is a lack of intentionality. Sometimes I call it busy-ness, but Jesus knows better.
A few years back the concept of intentionality was introduced to me and the Holy Spirit has graciously used it ever since to transform both my heart and my mind day-by-day, especially when it comes to spiritual disciplines and seeking the Lord, rather than just hoping he comes along on the ride as I choose my own path.
This all has a point, I promise, so let’s dig a little deeper with the scripture. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV) reads:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
For the purpose of this post, I want to really hone in on the tail end of verse 5: “…take every thought captive to obey Christ…”
John Piper breaks down this part of the text really well in one of his “Desiring God” episodes. He mentions the importance of noting the true context here 一 Paul is referring to the minds and thoughts of others, ‘opponents’ of God’s truth. So, we’re off the hook, right?
This text can still be applied to ourselves when we consider that we frequently fall into that group with thoughts that don’t align with God’s truth. As Piper says, everything should be submitted for scrutiny to Paul’s words, which are God-breathed.
Sort of like that awkward moment as a believer when you realize all along you were more like the prodigal son and not the rule-following brother. Or was that just me?
Anyways, this is where I want to bring being intentional back into the mix.
Thoughts are a fickle thing, aren’t they? It’s easy to let a sinful thought come and pass without a second glance.
But when we just let these things pass, they will likely return. And maybe they stay a little longer this time; they develop, they fester, they grow. I’ll spare you any grotesque comparisons, but I really do want that image to sit for a minute. I want us to be disgusted by the way our sin can creep in so slightly, but be so dangerous.
Once again, I will put my cards on the table. I struggle with anxiety. I think that word gets thrown around a lot lately, but I assure you it’s extremely heavy.
I feel it the worst at night. My husband is one of those people who is asleep almost before his head hits the pillow (annoying), right as I begin the process of trying to slow my mind down.
A tiny thought about something starts a train whistling down the track, ever accelerating and leading deeper into panic and away from the truth about God’s character. Rather than combating lies with truth, I allow the enemy to creep further and further into my mind. I indirectly entertain that I can control my circumstances and that I know what’s best for myself and my family.
I don’t know what the thoughts are for you specifically. It can look so different for each person, but my guess is that you’ve already identified it at this point. So what does Paul say about all this?
Pay attention to the fighting words used here. Paul doesn’t use passive phrases. He’s talking about warfare, ladies.
“Destroy strongholds” v.5
“punish every disobedience” v. 6
“take every thought captive” v.5
Do not be mislead. Sin is serious and is in direct opposition to our King. We have an ACTIVE enemy and there is no place for passivity when addressing the stray thoughts in our mind.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
It is only through an active hate for sin that we will be compelled to root it out; to be intentional when thoughts start to well up; to seek Biblical wisdom; to call it out in our trusted circles; to cry out to the Holy Spirit to do what He does.
Get up and fight.
What thoughts are you letting stick around? What do you need to take captive for Christ?
Just being real, as I write this I have struggled with my fear and desire for control today. Maybe more intensely than I have in the last few months. It’s painful and embarrassing to admit, but this is no coincidence. I am preaching to myself to be intentional to identify these thoughts and attack them directly.
So how can we be intentional when it comes to thoughts that are contrary to truth? Let’s get practical:
- Seek wisdom in scripture (James 1:5, James 3:17, Proverbs 4:6, Proverbs 9:11-12, Proverbs 11:2)
- Ask in prayer for these thoughts to be revealed and beg for Him to root them out (1 John 5:14, Psalm 18:6)
- Surround yourself with honest, Biblical community and bring your thoughts into the light (James 5:16)
- Fill your mind with scripture memory to combat the lies
Each of these points could merit their own post entirely, but I want to make a special note about the need for Biblical community.
Ladies, do not shy away from being in close relationship with other women who will love you despite your sin, like all of it, even the stuff you’re nervous about. Bring your thoughts in the light. Yes, even the real crazy ones. There’s something about saying it out loud and allowing other women to speak truth and point you back to the cross that is life-giving. Don’t hide.
I think it’s important before I close to circle back on this with some really good news. If this post makes you feel inadequate or up against an adversary bigger than you can handle 一 it’s true. We can do nothing apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. REST in His finished work.
Our intentionality and pursuit of being more like Christ should be an overflow of the grace and love we have already received, not a pursuit of salvation by our own merits.
Grace and peace, ladies.
Chelsea Watts is a recovering perfectionist fighting relapse every single day through the gospel of Jesus. She is married to her college sweetheart and they have two sweet toddlers and one hot mess of a cocker spaniel. She is a stay-at-home working mom who helps brands tell their stories via digital communications and she enjoys dance parties in her kitchen and fresh baked goods with friends. You can find her on Instagram, @chelseapwatts.