"Nothing is more foundational to your freedom from Satan's bondage than understanding and affirming what God has done for you in Christ and who you are as His child. Your attitudes, actions, responses, and reactions to life's circumstances are greatly affected by what you believe about yourself. If you see yourself as the helpless victim of Satan and his schemes, you will probably live like a victim and be in bondage to his lies."
This quote comes from the book, The Bondage Breaker, by Dr. Neil T. Anderson. I have shared before how Dr. Neil Anderson's ministry, Freedom in Christ Ministries, helped me through some of my darkest times in dealing with depression (click here if you want to read those posts). Basically what he teaches is that a person's actions reveal what they believe about themselves, and that in order to live freely, a person's thoughts about themselves need to line up with Yahweh's (God's) thoughts about them. I wholeheartedly agree with that and I personally found freedom because of the work of Dr. Neil Anderson. Praise Yahweh for using people like him to bring healing to many people like me! He frequently refers to 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says:
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; (KJV, emphasis mine)
What does it mean to "bring into captivity every thought", or as some other translations say, "take every thought captive"? Let me give you an example or two:
When a Follower of Yeshua (Jesus) is thinking something negative like, "I'm so fat and ugly!" they should replace that lie with the truth of the Word with something like, "I am God's workmanship - His handiwork- born anew in Christ to do His work", which is found in Ephesians 2:10. Another common lie that many people believe is "Nobody loves me", which should be replaced with something like, "I am chosen of God, holy, and dearly loved" found in Colossians 3:12 and 1 Thessalonians 1:4. That is taking thoughts captive. It truly is liberating when you start focusing on what the Bible says about you rather than what you feel. Our feelings can be so deceptive!
I noticed an example of this in my Bible study this week in Deuteronomy 29:16-21:
You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. And you have seen their detestable things, their idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, which were among them. Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. And the Lord will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity,in accordance with all the curses of the covenant
written in this Book of the Law.
(ESV, emphasis mine)
This is also echoed in Jeremiah 23:16-17:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”
(ESV, emphasis mine)
How often do you hear the advice to "Follow your heart"? Yeah, not the best idea! Our hearts, our feelings, can be so deceptive! See Jeremiah 17:9
What I read in Deuteronomy and in Jeremiah was a warning for someone not to do what they wanted to do, what they might feel was alright to do, even though it went against the Word of Yahweh. That person's feelings and subsequent actions based on those feelings will cause them to be on the receiving end of the anger of Yahweh! Like I said before, our feelings can be so deceptive!
I know that can cause discomfort to think about. After all, most of us have been told that God is love, and that He always forgives. I also know that those passages I just quoted are found in what many call the "Old Testament", and many people will discount the merit of those words because they think they are no longer relevant. So if that is the case, what do we see in the "New Testament"?
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
Hebrews 6:4-8 (ESV, emphasis mine)
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:26-31 (ESV, emphasis mine)
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
2 Peter 2:20-22 (ESV, emphasis mine)
Dr. Anderson also wrote in The Bondage Breaker:
"If what we think does not reflect truth, then what we feel does not reflect reality."
It is imperative that we have a clear understanding of what truth is.
"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." John 17:17
"For you are God, O Sovereign LORD. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant." 2 Samuel 7:28
"Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. Your Law (Torah) is truth." Psalm 119:142
Some people might think I'm crazy or weird because I get excited when I see these things in the Bible! Yes, it can be unsettling sometimes to be confronted with the truth, but I look at it as my Father wanting me to know Him better and to better know how to live in a way that pleases Him.
I hope I have clearly explained what it means to take our thoughts captive. There is more that I want to share, but I will wait and share the rest in a part two, where I will address the latter part of 2 Corinthians 10:5, where it says to take our thoughts captive, "into the obedience of Christ."