Taking Thoughts Captive
September 23, 2022
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 10:5 NIV
Hellbender, X, Prey, You Won't Be Alone, Barbarian, Mad God, Hatching, The Sadness, What Josiah Saw, You Are Not My Mother, Watcher, Bodies-Bodies-Bodies.
That’s the Google list of the top ten horror movies of 2022. Just reading the list makes me a little uneasy. I can promise you I would not do well if I watched them. Every year as the Halloween season approaches and new horror films come out, a new rash of anxiety and sleeplessness goes viral. But there’s a simple answer for the struggle, one I learned years ago. If I want to avoid nightmares and overwhelming anxiety, I don’t watch those movies. I take charge of what I watch and don’t mindlessly wander into something that will cause me to struggle.
That’s what Paul is telling us when he says to take captive every thought. Quit playing the movies that destroy your peace. Gain control over what you think about and what you allow to have access in your life.
Recognize your thoughts must change, not just your behavior. Behavior flows from thoughts. Nightmares grow in the fertile dark soil that should not be given access to my mind. Instead of just trying to control how I behave (taking night-time sleep aids, for instance), I change the material in my mind that gives birth to my behavior. I quit playing and replaying the movies of things that are not good for me.
Think THROUGH challenging situations, don’t give in to despair. Instead of thinking, “Things will never change. This is hopeless,” think “We are one day closer to beating this.” If you failed in handling it correctly and played the movie, think through what triggered it and what you can learn and do differently. NEVER LOSE HOPE THAT YOU WILL WIN THE BATTLE. Admiral James Stockdale, long time prisoner of war in Vietnam, said that was what separated the ones who came home alive from the ones who died discouraged and despairing deaths. They knew it wouldn’t happen overnight—they didn’t delude themselves that the mental and physical struggle was easy—but they always pictured themselves stepping off the plane at home to a big welcome. Think through to the end—believe in the good end to your story.
Confront your disruptive thoughts immediately. Admit it is a lie from Satan, designed to distance you from God and the life God has for you. Deliberately change your focus, change your activity (listen to music, talk to a friend, read the Word, listen to a podcast), and focus on the things that are “true and honorable and right and pure and lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.” You will demolish despair, you will grow strong, and God will smile.
- You’re in charge. It is possible. God is with you. Quit playing the movies. Sleep sweet.