II Corinthians 10:5:
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;
Take Every Thought Captive
We are responsible for our lives. Not only our physical lives but was is going on, on the inside of us. So ask yourself, what is going on inside? Take a look below at the differences between God's thoughts (fruit of the spirit) and the devil's thoughts (opposite) and you decide what is dwelling within your heart and mind.
GOD's Thoughts DEVIL's Thoughts Truth Lies, Negative, dishonest, deception Honest Dishonest, secretive, controller, manipulative Pure Unclean, sinful, filthy, perversion Just Victimized, self-pity, distrusting, comparison, self-righteousness, debates with God, demands justice and rights for self. Lovely Ugly, impatient, self-hatred, hardness, unloving Good Report Gossip, accuser, slander, judgment, criticism, filthy communication, bad report, blasphemy, wrath, malice, anger, profanity Virtuous Cowardly, prideful Praise Unthankful, doubt and unbelief, fear, isolation
Note: This is not to bring you under guilt or condemnation, but to bring things out into the light. The sin loses it's power when it is brought out into the light. I like what Pastor Henry says, "choking the chicken." So this is a good thing when you see yucky stuff. The Holy Spirit living inside you sees the junk and uses conviction to cause you to deal with it. However, if you don't know what is happening, you could run into fear. But the truth is, you have to see what is inside you so you can be purged. However, there is a caution. If you are only dwelling on every thought, you could lose your peace. There has to be a balance because as you take every thought captive, don't just cast it out alone, but replace it with God's thoughts. Begin to praise Him for what just took place. Spend some time with Him at that moment. That way you will be equipping yourself for life! I talked in an earlier session about God's love that casts out all fear and torment. Don't you think these thoughts are tormenting? So not only do you recognize it as an evil thought, confess it to God, but also begin receiving more of His love at that very moment! That is how we are supposed to live each day. I encourage you to begin doing what I'm teaching in this session.
So what forms our thoughts? I heard it said that we don't even come up with an original thought. We actually say, "A thought occurred to me." So the thought comes from someplace else. Our thoughts come from three sources - God, our self and the devil. I have found in most cases that our thoughts and the devil's thoughts are almost one, because when anyone seeks ministry, it's because their thoughts have been agreeing with the enemy. But don't let that condemn you, be glad that you finally see the difference, now God can really begin working in your life.
When God came to Adam and Eve and they ran from him and hid because they were naked. God asked them, "Who told you, you were naked?" They had a thought that came to them. A creature told them they were naked and made them ashamed. You have the power to resist the enemy, not just from others, but from your own thinking. Start to be a good soldier today.
So how do we recognize when we are thinking God's thoughts or the devil's thoughts? You probably already know that answer, one brings torment the other brings peace. But I found that many ignore what God is saying and cleaves to what the devil says because it's easier. No, it's not easier. It's easier to be free! The enemy is lying to you in your "thinking" when you think this. Remember, pay attention to your thoughts.
Let me ask you a question. If you had small children who were watching TV, would you censor the shows? Of course you would. If we showed our thoughts on TV, would our kids be able to watch? We need to take responsibility for our thoughts today, and stop being used as a puppet by the enemy. If resenting him long enough, he will go away. Be not weary in well doing, for in due season you will reap if you don't faint. If you feel like fainting, go to God for His strength! We can't do this alone - we need His power to do this.
Matthew 18:12 Jesus asked, "What think ye?"
So, what are you thinking? Philippians 4:8 breaks the thought process down for us (as shown in the chart above.) So anything that we think that does not line up with this passage, are the devil's thoughts (or our own stinkin' thinkin'). Anything, even thoughts, that is not full of faith, is sin (Romans 14:23).
I Corinthians 13:5 says to not think any evil. This chapter, the love chapter, really goes into detail what we are to think on.
Why is thinking so important? Because what we "think" comes out of our mouth. And when it comes out of our mouth, that's when sin is conceived. The Bible says that what we think in our heart, so are we. (Proverbs 23:7) James 1:13 -15 says that temptation comes first, and it's when we act upon it that it becomes sin. Just because you think a weird or bad thought doesn't mean you've sinned. You are heading for sin IF you dwell on that thought long enough. Remember to take every thought captive that does not reflect the nature and character of God and tell it to go.
Our thinking has been the culprit!
Simply put: Positive thoughts are of God, Negative thoughts are of the devil. Even if the thought you are thinking may be true in nature, perhaps someone did do you wrong, but we are to still "think" good thoughts all the time. Like the saying goes, "If you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all."
It has been apparent in ministry that everyone (100%) has thought problems.
If we had the "mind of Christ" we wouldn't be thinking any of the negative thoughts. (I Cor. 2:16). This passage says we "have" the mind of Christ. So we as believers, have what we need to "have the mind of Christ" real in our lives.
Let's look at the scripture in the same passage, Phil 4:4-7: "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice, Let your moderation be known unto all men, The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
The whole process of our sanctification is to have the mind of Christ. Having this one-mind (Phil 4:2) results in peace. If there were no turmoil, worry, confusion, jealousy going on in our thinking, wouldn't we be at peace? Of course we would.
So how do we get our minds cleaned out of the filth?
#1 - We need to have the mind of Christ activated in our lives, it's already there when you received Jesus as Savior, it just needs to become forefront in our mind. As we get to know God through prayer, scriptures, and relationship those thoughts become more active and pretty soon those negative thoughts diminish. A matured Christian knows how to discern both evil and good so that they can choose wisely. You need this in order to "weigh the spirits" as the Bible tells us to do; to know if they are of God or not. Do a Bible study on the words "think," "thoughts" and "mind", etc. to see what God says about all of this. When you understand what He is saying, you will then be able to recognize the thoughts in your own mind, whether they are good or evil. This is called discernment. Knowing the difference between good and evil. (Heb. 5:14)
#2 - Cast the thoughts out that are not of God, and keep those thoughts that are. II Corinthians 10:5 say, "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." We are to take EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE! At this point, decide if the thought is a God thought or not. Yes! Every thought. Did you know that if someone did something wrong to you and you began thinking bad thoughts about them, you have just taken the bait of the enemy? No matter what happens in our lives, to us or around us, we are to "think good" at all times. Think positive. Make lemon aid when life gives you lemons. Think good of all men - as the Bible teaches. This whole thought issue has to do with relationship with people. If there were no people, half of our evil thoughts would be gone because the people are gone. However, there is still ourselves, so we can think evil of ourselves the rest of the time. We are not to even think evil of ourselves!! Why? Because when we think about ourselves negatively long enough it can produce self-hatred, self-bitterness, self-criticism, etc. and when these thoughts are prolonged, can result in physical ailments. For example, someone who hates themselves and says things all their life to themselves like, "You are so stupid," "No one will ever love you," "I wish I were dead" etc., you are attacking yourself. If this persists for a long period of time, your body will finally agree with you and begin attacking itself, called "white corpuscle deviate behavior." The corpuscles gather in an area and have a pity-party on your behalf and begin eating you, resulting in tumors, Crones disease, lupus, diabetes, etc.
#3 - Understand that these thoughts don't just pop in our heads, these thoughts come from what is in our heart! Mark 7:20-23, "And Jesus said, "that which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man, for from within out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, coveteousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness." We need to come face to face with what is truly in our hearts. And if these thoughts start to surface and we begin responding to them, it's time to begin casting out those thoughts, as II Corn. 10:5 says to do. But I find we don't do that. We think about it, and think about it, then we feel "bad" because of what we are thinking, we even begin to doubt if we are even saved. Many people think that if they think a thought, it's sin! It is not. It's sin to dwell on it and then act upon it (James 1:13-15).
#4 - Know the enemy's thoughts. In order to be set free completely, we need to know BOTH good and evil. God's thoughts and the devil's thoughts, just in case our thoughts are in there someplace too, we need to discern ourselves. What I believe is this: When we think a thought, it's because it's something in us. Because the enemy can only cause us to think wrong if we have something in us he can draw on. For example, I cannot be tempted to rob a bank. It's not in me. I can't even be tempted to drink a drink, because I no longer have that addiction. But I can be tempted to each chocolate. I am tempted to judge. I am tempted to fear. Because these things are still "in" me. The process of everyone's life is to be sanctified in body, soul and spirit. This is a process! A process means there is time involved. So even though God has already purged me and cleansed me from a lot of things that were "IN" my heart already, there are still many more things to be cleansed from, and evidenced by what I still "think." If I have a dream that startled me, and I wake up and wonder why I dreamt that, first of all, I cast that "evil" thought out. But then I begin asking God what is in me that the enemy used to cause me to "think" (dream) that dream? And sure enough, there was something God was wanting to get at in me. Sometimes He has to use the enemy in a dream to show us what is in us! Remember, God uses anything to get to us - even the jawbone of a donkey!
#5 - Separate the thoughts now. Remember, our thoughts come one of three places: God, ourselves or the devil. I believe that behind every thought is a "thinking" being! So for me, I saw every thought as a creature. (Hebrews 4:13). It's either of the Holy Spirit, myself or the devil. Once I categorized them in my mind, I was able to capture the devil's thoughts, bind them up and cast them out! At first I had to do this a hundred times a day. Then it got less and less as time went on. Because I believe by taking responsibility for our thoughts, taking charge of what is in there, recognizing if it's a wrong thought, and telling it to leave, is cleansing my heart at the same time. When we do this we are actually being a "doer" of the word because it says, "Cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit" (2 Corinthians 7:1). I found that many people stay in bondage because they aren't willing to see what is in their own heart or they are afraid to see what is there or they don't believe that it's there. I came from a background that said once we are saved, all that junk is gone. Then when do we still have so many problems in our soul? We can't be afraid to see it, we need to so that it can be purged. Once we "see" it, half the battle is won! We take it captive, cast it out, and God does the restoring, purging, and healing in line with our own words!
#6 - Recognize that those things within you that the enemy uses are NOT you! They are the sin in you that God is wanting out. Romans 7:20 "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that does it, but sin that dwelleth in me." In other words, there are things I don't want to do because I "know" not to, but then I do them anyway. We need to understand that it's the SIN in us using our bodies to live out their characteristic. We have simply allowed them to because we didn't know any better or we got lazy. In order to get them out they may have to manifest so you can see what is in you! God can only purge something when you know what it is. You just can't pray, "Father, purge me from everything that is not of you." Of course that is a good initial prayer, but then we need to get specific. Father, if there is any evil in me, tell me what it is - as David prayed. We have to see what is there before He can begin the cleansing process. This is the same with forgiveness, we just can' t pray a blanket prayer of forgiveness, we have to identify each person we need to forgive.
This is an every day battle a believer is to do. Our minds are to be renewed every day - His mercies are new every morning. Our minds are to be conformed, and continue being conformed, to the mind of Christ, it's a process (Romans 8:29). Some say that "Old things are passed away, behold all things become new" which is biblical. But then it becomes bondage to them because if they do have issues in their heart they don't want anyone to know it so they stay in their bondage. This scripture is a confirmation to our lives, it's a promise to aspire to. And any way, it says "become" new -- that means we are being made new! So don't that that trip you up any longer.
When we know that it is the sin in us, and not us, we can stop being so angry and unhappy with ourselves. Now I can love myself better because I've separated myself from the sin in me. I still hate the sin, but I don't hate me! So many have made themselves ONE with the sin! You bought the lie if you think you are an angry person! The anger is the sin in you, because truthfully, you don't want to be an angry person, you may have even tried not being an angry person, yet it just comes out! It's time to go to work and ask God to help purge your heart of the anger that is within, and identify it in detail.
I was a very angry person, I would fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. I even drove with anger and tailgated if someone cut ahead of me. And believe me, that was all the time. I drove over an hour one way to work for 17 years! By the time I left that job, I was no longer angry. During those 17 years the Lord used that commute to deal with my heart. At the same time I was learning to forgive others and myself, they have a lot to do with each other. Then to top it off, I realized my father was angry. So I confessed his sin of anger to God and he purged me from it! (Talked more about in a later session.) Things were changing in me from every direction so by the time I ended that long commute, I was driving peaceful. I would forgive those who pulled out in front of me, I didn't feel that "rage" come up from within any longer because it was gone! If someone pulled out in front of me, or cut close to me in traffic, I felt nothing. I was in complete peace, how awesome is that? But again, it was a process because I had such deep rooted anger. And by the way, anger is a root of fear. And if you know anything about my story, that was my main problem. So as I was being set free from fear, anger was leaving too.
Pay attention to your thoughts and cast down (out) any that are not God's thoughts. Even if the thought is true - if it's not a good thought, you are not to dwell on it at all. If you get a thought, take it to the Lord, deal with it at that moment of inception and you will stay in peace. And since those thoughts came from someplace within us, we need to go to God and ask Him what is in us. There was a reason that thought came up in the first place, perhaps God is wanting to bring your attention to something within that He wants out! It's not time to go into condemnation and fear or run from it or ignore it. It's time to get excited because God is doing a work. Remember, things have to manifest in you before they can be removed from you. Reminds me of a story I use in ministry called "The shrapnel." My husband was in vietnam and bombs blew up all around him sending pieces of metal his way. Many of those pieces penetrated his body, so when he returned back to the U.S. he still had that shrapnel in him. One by one they all began protruding out of his skin. They would begin festering, hurting, reminding him of how it got there in the first place. It wasn't a pretty sight and for years suffered PTSD. However, when the metal finally worked it's way out, and sometimes had to be surgically removed, the sore was healed. That's how God purges our sins - the way it went in is the same way it will come out! But once it's out, it's OUT! And if you suffer PTSD, be sure to go through the teachings on "Trauma."
The bottom Line:
I want to add that once we commune with God, fellowship with Him, and learn of Him, we begin to think like Him. The more we do this, the less we have to "fight" with our thoughts! Our heart changes, and when our heart changes and is filled with love, compassion, peace and joy, that is what we begin to think about. It's from the heart where evil thoughts come - the heart feeds the mind. Sometimes the enemy does put a thought in our mind that is wild and weird, and we really don't know where it could have come from. But even in those times, I would go to God and ask if there was anything in you that caused that thought to stick. I personally found that I either watched something on TV, or heard something negative, or it was actually something God was dealing with in my heart that causes these thoughts to come. I encourage you to be thankful when things come into your mind because it gives you opportunity to exercise your faith to deal with it. Go to God and confess any wrong thoughts to Him, ask Him to cleanse your heart and mind from that thought and anything that is rooted in it that could be in your heart. God looks at the heart of man, He doesn't look at our minds. Why? Because from our hearts flow the issues of life. So whatever is in our heart, that is how we will act. After you settle things with God, then bask in His love and forgiveness. Get back into the center of His love, and all fear (and ugly thoughts) vanish. That truly says it all. "Perfect love casts out all fear and torment." Where do these get cast out of? Our hearts and minds.
Some people believe that they can't have anything evil in them. Boy, this is a whole other teaching, because if God's love casts out fear, then it is obviously it's inside us?? There are so many passages that back this up. Romans 7, Mark 7 - both accounts talking about evil coming from the heart of man. In Romans, Paul is talking and in Mark, Jesus is talking. Run a reference yourself on "heart" and "evil." There is a passage that comes to me that talks about an unbelievingly heart is an evil heart. Hmm...
A prayer for you:
"Father, I come before you with my brother/sister in the Lord. I know from experience that our thoughts need to be renewed and conformed to your thoughts. Help my brother/sister to identify every thought to decide if they are your thoughts or not. Help them to get more of your thoughts in them through Bible reading and fellowship with You. Help them to recognize when the enemy is thinking a thought through them so they can tell it to "GO." Help them to know that they have this authority to cast things out! I pray courage and fearlessness over their lives. I pray they take back their thoughts, and get rid of anything that is not of you. It may be a bit overwhelming for some at this point because of all the negative thoughts they have. But let them know that by exercising this teaching, it won't take long for the thoughts to become less and less destructive leaving only your thoughts. Let them find comfort knowing that every person reading this is in the same boat, otherwise they wouldn't be reading this. They are not alone, and even the most polished preacher has to take every thought captive, if they know to do so. And as thoughts come up that are not of you, help them to investigate further by asking you to help let them see what is in them that allowed that thought to come in the first place. Sometimes it could be things as jealousy, fear of evil, doubt, confusion, bitterness and unforgiveness, comparison, feelings of incompetence, etc. And help them not to think badly of themselves for having these things. Help them remember it's sin in them that has to manifest in order to be purged. Don't let them fear what they will see, but be happy they see it. Help them to cast out every imagination and high and lofty thing out of their thinking, and only dwell on whatsoever things are good! Let their heart and mind be stayed on your so that whatever comes from within, out of their mouth, will be what would come out of yours. I know this is a process, but help them to remember when they mess up, to confess their sin immediately and receive forgiveness immediately and go on with their lives. We only stay in sin because we haven't received forgiveness. Bless my friend now Lord, and let them experience peace within their heart and mind. In Jesus name, Amen."
I will remind you at the end of each session to stop and reflect on what you have learned, not rush on to the next teaching before it has had time to really do a work in your heart. All head knowledge is only going to cause you to be top heavy! We need to allow time for the seeds planted to grow and take root into our hearts. We not only need the "knowledge" but the understanding. Understanding gives revelation, and revelation makes it a reality in our own lives. Not just head knowledge, but heart knowledge that changes us. By doing this, you are "receiving." We not only need to "know", we need to "believe and receive."
Praising God is crucial to having all you learn take permanent residence in you. We remain in peace when we are strengthened in our spirit and that happens when we thank the one we are doing all this for.
And lastly, all work and no play is not scriptural. If you become overwhelmed or "heavy" spirited, stop and take a breather. It reminds me of flooding. If the water comes too quickly it doesn't have time to absorb into the soil, causing flooding and all that water is wasted. But if the water comes softly, and just enough that the ground absorbs, then it does great good!
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