As Christians, we have a responsibility to take every thought captive by trading Satan’s lies for God’s truth. Here’s how to take every thought captive for Christ so you can do just that!
Do you ever find yourself thinking thoughts you know aren’t true, but you feel like they’re true, or you feel like you can’t help yourself?
» For example, maybe you’re a chronic worrier. You rarely let your children out of your sight, and you’re always giving them tons of rules and reminders to keep them safe. No running in the house! No jumping off the deck! No food unless I’m there to watch you!
» Maybe you have terrible self-esteem. You know the Bible says God loves you, but you don’t see how He could. You’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re too old, you’re stupid, you’ve messed up too many times… You feel like a failure. You don’t love yourself and you don’t believe anyone else can either.
» Or maybe you’re secretly really judgmental. You don’t mean to offer silent judgment to those who look, dress, parent, or vote differently than you, but it’s like you can’t help it. The thoughts and attitudes just pop into your head automatically – outside of your conscious control.
Do any of these sound familiar?
If so – then it’s time to learn how to take every thought captive to Christ!
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Take Every Thought Captive — Lies We Believe
So, a few years ago, I read the book “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis, and I really enjoyed it.
(A little light on the Christian worldview, but still really good as long as you keep that in mind too.)
Basically, Rachel goes into all the gory detail of all the lies she has believed over the years, along with tips for how she personally learned to take every thought captive and overcome each one. It’s honest, authentic, vulnerable, touching… and really funny.
So I started thinking — “What lies have *I* believed over the years?” And man oh man, do I have a list…
Here’s the short version:
- That I’m not good enough. I’ll never be good enough.
- That no one wants me.
- That if I were skinny enough, I’d be worthwhile. (side note: This one turned into a lovely eating disorder)
- That I can’t ask for help. I shouldn’t need help. I should be able to do EVERYTHING. All at once.
- That if I ask for anything, I’ll be a burden, and they won’t want me anymore.
- That when other people compliment me, they’re just saying it because they’re “supposed to.” They don’t really mean it.
- That I’d ruined my life and forfeited all of God’s plans for me.
- That my husband doesn’t want to be with me. That I’ve ruined his life.
- That I’m a terrible wife/mother/friend.
- And the list goes on and on…
And you know what the funny thing is — I actually have really healthy self-esteem. Probably better than most people. I’m generally pretty content with life and happy with who I am. I know I try hard to be a Godly woman.
And yet, I still have thoughts like these from time to time!
And I’m guessing you do too.
That’s why we want to learn how to take every thought captive to rid our minds of these negative thoughts!
Related Reading: Who I Am in Christ: 10 Life-Changing Truths All Christians Must Know
So What’s Going On??
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” — 1 Peter 5:8
So here’s the good news: Just because a thought is in your head does NOT mean it’s your thought; it does NOT mean you put it there; and it does NOT mean that it’s true.
The first step to help you take every thought captive is to understand that satan and his demons actually have the power to put negative, false, and terrible thoughts in your head, making them sound like they’re your thoughts when they’re NOT.
Many times, they’re actually satan’s thoughts, designed to distract you and disable you, causing destruction and leaving you incapable of carrying out God’s purposes for your life, and robbing you of the will of God and the blessings that He has in store for you!
When we take every thought captive, we cast out satan’s thoughts and replace them with God’s thoughts.
Related Reading: How to Renew Your Mind in 5 Easy Steps
The Solution: Take Every Thought Captive to Christ
“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” — Martin Luther
Ready for even more good news? Just because a thought pops into your head doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
You actually have the power to CHOOSE what you believe and what you allow into your mind. Sure, you may not be able to stop every single bad, negative, or untrue thought from popping into your mind, but you definitely don’t have to let bad thoughts live there. You have the power to kick them out!
And you do that when you take every thought captive to Christ. Here’s how!
Related Video: Fighting Fear and Negative Thought Patterns
How to Take Every Thought Captive to Christ
“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
1. Pay Attention to Your Inner Monologue
So what thoughts fill your mind on a daily basis? And are you even aware of them, or have you just grown so used to them that they can fill your mind without you even being consciously aware of them? Knowing what thoughts are in your head is the first step to being able to take every thought captive.
For example, how often do you tell yourself…
- That you’re not good enough?
- That you can never do anything right?
- That if only you could do/have _________, then you’d be happy?
- That you should be more like [this specific person] or less like [that specific person]?
How often do you worry…
- That something bad will happen to you or your family?
- That you’ll lose your job and be out on the streets?
- That you’ll never have/accomplish that goal or possession you’ve been obsessing about lately?
Action Step: What thoughts are you (or satan) telling yourself on a regular basis? Take a few days to listen in. Make a list. Write them down. (All of them. On paper. Yes, really.) Doing this will help you prepare to take every thought captive to Christ.
2. Compare Your Thoughts With Scripture
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” — 2 Timothy 3:16
Once you’ve identified the thoughts that fill your mind on a regular basis, the next step to begin to take every thought captive is to take your thoughts to Scripture to see how they compare.
After all, as Christians, we believe that Scripture is 100% true. So if God’s Word says one thing and your mind says another thing, YOU’RE the one who is wrong — not Scripture.
There are no exceptions. No ifs, ands, or buts. The Scripture does not apply to “everyone but you.”
Sure, that may sound harsh, but it’s actually really great news! Because it means many of the negative thoughts in your head are just lies, and you don’t have to believe them anymore. In fact, you’re morally obligated NOT to!
When you take every thought captive you turn lies into truths.
- Lie: No one will ever love me.
- Truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16 (that includes you!)
- Lie: Resisting [this particular sin] is too hard. I can’t do it.
- Truth: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” — Philippians 4:13
- Lie: I’ve messed up too badly. I’m a failure.
- Truth: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” — Romans 8:37
Action Step: Head over to Google and type in “Bible verses about [whatever you’re dealing with].” For example, Bible verses about God’s love, Bible verses about how God takes care of us, Bible verses about worry, etc. What does the Bible have to say about the lies you’ve been believing? Having scripture to affirm you will help you to take every thought captive. Let’s learn how.
3. Proclaim the Truth Over Your Life
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:32
Once you 1) know the lines you’ve been believing and 2) know the truth that sets you free, it’s time to start proclaiming these truths over your life. This is the fun part when you take every thought captive.
Basically, you choose 1 or more short sentences or Bible verses and you speak them out loud, with authority, as often as you need to until you believe them. (Yes, you can say them in your head too, but out loud is way more effective. Seriously.)
- Feeling judged or discouraged over past mistakes? Repeat after me: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” — Romans 8:1
- Struggling to say no to temptation? Repeat after me: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
- Worried about your finances? Repeat after me: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:19
Action step: Speak meaningful Scripture verses out loud, repeat them over and over again in your head, write them down and post them all around your home, buy jewelry with the verse reference or meaningful words from the verse on it, do whatever you need to do to take every thought captive and replace the lies in your head with a positive affirmation using the words of God.
Related Reading: 6 Surprising Facts About the Proverbs 31 Woman (Virtuous Woman)
4. Walk in Faith — Even When You Don’t Feel Like it
Now, I wish I could say this is a quick fix, and as soon as you take every thought captive and start proclaiming truth over your life, you’ll believe it fully and everything will change right away. Unfortunately, it probably won’t.
Chances are you’re going to have to continue to speak the truth over your life for days, or even months, while you’re going through hard times. This is spiritual warfare here, and satan isn’t going down without a fight.
But the good news is — as Christians, we’ve already won! We just have to realize that when we take every thought captive it means we are taking hold of the victory!
- Choosing to say “God, I trust you” when you’re tempted to worry. And then thinking of something pleasant instead.
- Choosing to say “Thank you for providing for us” BEFORE the blessings arrive, because you have full confidence that He WILL provide — on His perfect timing.
- Choosing to say “I am a child of God. I am loved. I am enough.” when you’re tempted to berate yourself for your faults and failings.
Sure, it won’t be easy at first. Not at all. You’re literally rewriting your brain’s neurological pathways here. (Don’t you feel fancy?) But I promise you the more you work to take every thought captive, the easier it will get!
Action step: Grab a journal, notebook, or simply a piece of paper and your favorite pen. Draw a line down the middle of the paper. On the left side of the paper, rewrite all the lies from step one above. On the right side of the paper, replace that lie with one of God’s truths. Do this as often as needed, and it will soon become a habit to take every thought captive.
**Please note: I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t also take steps to improve your situation if you are able. You absolutely should. If you have an opportunity to better yourself, your life, or your circumstances, please do. But do it in faith, trusting God to provide through your actions or with love for yourself and others.
Related Reading: You Can Find Freedom From Spiritual Strongholds
5. Share Your Struggles with a Trusted Friend
It is so important for Christians to open up about our struggles. Lies are like vampires. If you keep them hidden deep inside you, they flourish. Take them out and expose them to the light, and on the contrary, they usually shrivel up and die fairly quickly. As we take every thought captive, that’s exactly what we want to happen.
So find a trusted friend and spill your guts: What lies have you been believing? Do you know why? What do you think you should do about it?
This will accomplish three things:
- You’ll start to realize how ridiculous you sound when you say these things out loud.
- Your friend will probably say “What?? You’re being crazy. That’s not true at all.”
- You can work together to come up with a good plan to take every thought captive AND she can help hold you accountable.
The truth is: You ARE perfectly capable of choosing the thoughts that fill your head. You have the ability to take every thought captive. You CAN do it! You just have to decide you want to, and then follow through with God’s help.
Action step: Who is your most trusted friend? Set aside some time to meet, talk on the phone, or even write a letter. Remember to talk about what lies you tell yourself, why, and what you should do about it. Use the three steps from above to help you take every thought captive.
So — are you up to it? Can you start to take every thought captive?
Do you need to take every thought captive to Christ? What lies do you struggle with — either now or in the past? If you are a pro at being able to take every thought captive, what advice can you offer others to trust in the truth of God?