In an article I wrote close to a year ago, “The Art of Holiness: Maintaining a Holy Lifestyle,” I stated that God has given me a gift of holiness, despite my previous circumstances, gracing me to live a set-apart lifestyle. (In reality we all have this gift, since we have been redeemed and have the living Christ in us (see Galatians 2:20)). We are God’s holy temples (see 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 3:16:17), set apart and not of this world (see John 15:19; 1 John 2:15; John 17:14; John 17:16), and must treat ourselves accordingly). In the article, I also stated that while I have been given this gift, I was still having difficulty with taking thoughts captive.
“We 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.” (2 Corinthians 11:5)
“We are God’s holy temples…, set apart and not of this world…, and must treat ourselves accordingly.”
During that season, I do not believe I knew the utter importance of monitoring the thought life. I simply recognized that the Word of God says to take each thought captive and that it was somehow important. I did not even fully understand what the words “renewing your mind” really meant.
Taking Thoughts Captive
It is only now, in retrospect, that I can truly recognize the absolute and vital significance of taking each and every thought captive. Seriously, each and every thought. As God has increased the gifts He has placed on my life, and particularly a prophetic gifting, I have become very aware of just how real the verses of us not being of this world are. And I am currently playing my part in a very real spiritual battle (that has already been won, yes and thank you) of trying to monitor each thought that appears in my mind, dismissing a majority of the thoughts, and attempting to gain God’s perspective instead.
Why is this important, one may ask? Aren’t thoughts harmless? They are just thoughts, after all, no? No. In fact, Jesus specifically says that looking at a woman to lust for her, essentially agreeing with a lustful thought or imagination, is committing adultery with her in his heart (see Matthew 5:27-28). In the same manner, I am here to say, both through my own personal experience and through observing the spiritual realm when engaging with others, that the negative thoughts we have are often fueled by negative spirits, and agreeing with these thoughts eventually open us up for spiritual attacks that could have been prevented by monitoring our thoughts.
These type of thoughts that we need to take captive are not all lustful or physically harmful thoughts. They can be a simple thought of judgment or offense, a feeling of jealousy toward someone, a thought that we are better than someone else, a thought of putting ourselves down after we have made a mistake, a worry of finances (see Ephesians 4:22-32). While it is true that not all of these thoughts have to be rooted from negative spirits, and often they are there due to a real concern we need to address (i.e., a jealous thought of someone in a certain occupation that might be alluding to us being called to do the same thing; a thought of judgment toward someone that we might need to discover the cause of why that would be there; or, we may simply be picking up the thoughts and feelings of the person we are engaging with and are called to pray and love), they are nevertheless thoughts that we need to take captive right away to the obedience of Christ. We need to address them accordingly within His Perspective and in His Presence.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
In Romans 12:1-2, we are taught the absolute importance of fully yielding our beings to God, offering ourselves wholly to our Beloved and living from a place of Heaven (see Ephesians 2:6). It is from that place, seated with Him, that we are to live. As followers of Jesus, any thought, word, or action that does not occur in the Kingdom of God is not to occur in our lives. For example, when we are in a conversation with someone and a judgmental or mean thought comes to mind, we have to ask ourselves, “What does Jesus think about this person and what they said?” Moreover, if we worry about our finances, we are in essence not putting our full faith in the Word of God, as our Provider tells us not to fear or worry (see Matthew 6:25-34). Instead, we can rest in His Love and Presence, and from that place of connection, we can renew our minds together with Him, choosing to think what He thinks, speak what He speaks, and do what He does. After this has been done for a while, we will often notice that we do not react in the same manner as we previously had; we no longer think the thoughts that we once did that we simply thought were part of our personalities, but instead, we are thinking, speaking, and acting in accordance to His Word.
“Instead, we can rest in His Love and Presence, and from that place of connection, we can renew our minds together with Him, choosing to think what He thinks, speak what He speaks, and do what He does.”
“Finally, brethen, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Using the Word
Thankfully, our Beautiful Savior has given us the Word of God to help us renew our minds. We can immerse ourselves in His Word, think thoughts that align with His Kingdom, and live a life according to His leading. We are to fully yield ourselves to our Jesus, giving Him our all, and wholly trusting Him with our beings. It is then, when we have fully yielded our bodies, souls, and spirits to our Jesus, that we are able to more consistently host His Presence and Glory and have a clearer connection with our Anointed One (see Colossians 1:27; Exodus 33:15, Psalm 16:11).
“We can immerse ourselves in His Word, think thoughts that align with His Kingdom, and live a life according to His leading.”
Has my mind been fully renewed? No. I believe it is a process and one I am very much in the middle of, or perhaps in the beginning of. However, I can say that I have definitely improved: I have become more aware of the thoughts that run through my mind, have tried to take each thought captive (each thought that I actually recognize, “oh, wait, that’s not mine”), and I have tried to consult Him and His Word for what He thinks and what He would do. Through this process, I can say that when thoughts of judgment, offense, self-criticism, etc. come to mind, I am less likely to own them as my own and more likely to treat them as intrusive thoughts and address them accordingly, choosing instead to think and own the thoughts Jesus has for whatever is at hand. The result has been a closer connection with our Jesus, the ability to more clearly host His Presence, and a deeper trust in Him and His Word.
And I pray the same for you, Father God, I pray that you open the eyes of everyone reading this article, myself included, helping us recognize the power of our thoughts, words, and actions, and helping us in this process of renewing our mind and developing a deeper relationship with You. I pray, God, that you reveal Yourself to us all in a greater measure, helping us recognize the absolute and endless love You have for us, that You think loving and beautiful and gentle thoughts about us. That You love us dearly and see us with eyes of joy and hope. That You wholeheartedly believe in us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.