Have you ever had a lot of windows on your computer open at the same time, and suddenly they all started playing together at once? Someone is telling the news, a podcast about the latest diet trend blares out, Pandora is playing your favorite tunes, and a video is running that your friend posted on Facebook.
Yikes! You really can’t hear anything because you’re hearing everything at the same time.
Have you ever experienced this in your mind as well? Maybe you have a big project to do and you’re trying to think about every single detail of what must be done. Maybe you’ve experienced this when you’ve actually had many people talking to you at the same, all while you are trying to concentrate. It can be overwhelming, can’t it?
But I’d like to talk with you about another kind of “chatter” in your mind, the kind that seems to play constantly and never wants to stop. The never-ending barage of thoughts that might even leave you feeling like you are being held captive in your own brain to your own thoughts.
Some people give these persistent thoughts different names. I’ve always called them “voices”. They usually are full of lies. They are always calling out to us, sometimes loudly and sometimes just murmuring as background noise. They can make us feel helpless to turn them off, helpless to think for ourselves or believe that we could ever change.
I wrestled with this clatter and chatter for most of my life. It was deafening at times. I wonder if you’ve heard some of the things that played in my mind:
And I could go on. And on. And on. In all honesty, I allowed the noise to get so loud that there were times I thought I was on the verge of going crazy. Literally. It was misery.
Have you been there, my friend? If so, I want to encourage you that while it may seem your thoughts are taking you captive, the reality is that Jesus came to set captives free! Part of His purpose in coming to the earth was to give you freedom from anything that holds you captive.
To be a captive is to be taken away or led away from where you belong. To be taken as a prisoner by your enemy. And we do have an enemy! He is always looking to take you away from where you belong.
Wouldn’t you like to be free from this “sound pollution”? All the crazy-making, deceptive, brow-beating noise you’ve experienced in your mind?
Come with me now and let’s dig deeper into some truth so you don’t have to be captive anymore. You may feel like you are weak and helpless, but as a believer, you actually have been given the ability and strength to guard those thoughts. You can be intentional about allowing only those thoughts that bring you life and light, rather than being victim to thoughts you wish you didn’t even have. And you really can choose to believe the truth.
You’ve Been Given the Ability to Take Thoughts Captive
1 Corinthians. 2: 16 tells us that we have been given the mind of Christ. I do believe that this “mind” involves wise thoughts and sound reasoning and being able to understand and discern.
But I also believe that having the mind of Christ might just encompass a much bigger dimension of what goes on in our brains than our capacity to think and learn. I believe we’ve been given the ability to have a different mindset.
If you look up references about the mind in the New Testament, you will find lots of references to “letting this mind be in you” or “having the same mind” or “being of one mind”. I don’t think those verses are talking about individual thoughts we have. I believe the point is to have a framework of thinking.
Here are some definitions I found for the word “mindset”:
-a particular way of thinking
-a person’s attitude or set of opinions about something
-the established set of attitudes held by someone.
When we look at having the mind of Christ in the light of these definitions, it really brings home what we’ve been given! If God tells us we have the mind of Christ, this means He will help us to see how Jesus looks at things. We can learn what His opinion is of us and of others (and we’ll find no condemnation there, thankfully!)
I believe He is calling us into a close relationship with Him so we can learn His way of looking at life. He’s given us the potential to think with the same set of positive attitudes that He holds about everything!
This is not something we need to use to condemn ourselves, saying “If I could just be a better person, I could think like that!” We’ve been given this ability to have the same mindset that our Father does. It’s not beyond our reach!
In 1 Cor. 2, the same chapter that tells us we have the mind of Christ, we’re told that we’ve been given the Holy Spirit so that we might know all the other things we’ve been given! The Spirit wants to teach us! He is such a great helper.
He is willing to show us the Lord’s thoughts about circumstances we face, decisions we need to make, and concerns we have about the future. He even wants us to know God’s thoughts about ourselves so we can think about ourselves the way He does.
This gift of the mindset of Christ actually gives us the ability to take any thoughts captive that don’t align with God’s thoughts, even those about ourselves.
Rom 12:2 gives us the promise that we can actually be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Isn’t that amazing?
We CAN think like He does!
You Can Turn the Tables
You no longer have to be on the defensive from the slavery of all your chaotic thoughts. Having the mind of Christ now enables you to be on the offensive and take them captive, rather than being held captive yourself.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
Think of it this way – we can be a gatekeeper to our thoughts. In ancient times, a gatekeeper was stationed at the gate to protect whatever was inside, whether it was a city, a palace, or a temple.
The gatekeeper not only guarded his place, but he also controlled access to the place he guarded. If he were derelict in his duties, he could potentially bring ruin to all within the walls, depending on who he allowed into the gate.
For most of my life, I believed that whatever floated through my mind was beyond my control. Thoughts just seemed to pop in there, and when they did, I would latch onto them – whether they were true or not. Right or wrong. Loving or not. I would just go right along with them.
I brought much ruin into the walls of my life by doing so.
In ancient times, the gatekeeper had help with his job. There was usually a watchman stationed on the high wall that surrounded the city. The watchman could give notice when there was an unfamiliar person approaching or sound the alarm when a known enemy was in sight.
The Holy Spirit is our watchman. He wants to warn us about thoughts that rob us of our peace and take us down paths we’d rather not go. He sounds the alarm, however quiet it may be, to let us know when the enemy is attempting to lead us astray.
He wants to protect us from all the lies of the enemy and the lies we even tell ourselves because He wants us to be safely grounded in the truth of God’s word. He knows the truth is so good. It’s what brings freedom. So He is ever trying to lead us to take hold of the mind of Christ. He wants to help us think about any circumstance or any person or even ourselves like He does.
What encouragement to know that we don’t have to be held captive by our thoughts, but we can be on the offensive to take them captive.
And you’re probably thinking by now, how do I do this?
You Can Make the Choice
We know we have the ability to think like Christ, to see things with the same mindset, the same attitude that He does. We know we must be gatekeepers to guard what we allow into our minds so that we can take those thoughts captive that don’t belong there. But the big question is how?
You begin by realizing that you have a choice. Using the mind He’s given you, adopting the mindset that belongs to Him, has to be an intentional choice.
Let’s look at it with a metaphor about peace. Think if you had a gazillion dollars stashed under your bed. This nest egg would give you much peace about the future ahead of you, wouldn’t it? But what if you never took it out and used it? And what if you didn’t guard your house and some robbers came in every night and stole some away, little by little. Would you be at peace?
In truth we really have been given peace itself by the Prince of Peace, a gift far greater than any dollars stashed under your bed. And yet we let it get stolen away by a marauding band of thieves called fear and worry and anxiety.
Having the mindset of Christ means you must make a choice to use it. And you must lean on the Holy Spirit to guide you and teach you and warn you along the way.
I’m not saying this is easy. I lived with a cacophony of voices in my head for years. Lies that always dealt with my worth and my appearance and my goodness and my purpose. There were so many voices! It was so easy to get sucked into them because there was usually a shred of truth buried somewhere in them.
But here’s what finally brought me to my senses to deal with all this confusing mess:
The biggest lie I believed was that all the other lies were true.
Making a choice involves your will. I learned that I could not allow myself to indulge in listening to whatever those voices were telling me. And yes, I mean indulge. It was far too easy to give in to the noise and then wallow in self-pity or wrap myself in failure or try to blame someone else for my problems.
We all have a choice to believe the truth or not. I encourage you not to indulge the thoughts that are robbing you of all that God has for you. They may seem like they’re promising something pleasurable, but they deliver nothing but heartache, misery and bondage.
As Christian author and speaker Graham Cooke often says, if you don’t like where your thoughts are taking you, have another thought! Choose the truth!!!!!
Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has thoughts of peace toward us. The Hebrew word here for peace is shalom. Look at this list of all the things shalom includes and know that this is what God is thinking in regards to you:
Let’s think like God does!!!
My friend, you no longer have to be taken captive by your thoughts! You have the ability to think like Jesus because you have His mind now. You can filter everything through His mindset. Start by looking at this list in regards to shalom. Remind yourself that these are the things He has in His mind for you.
You not only have the ability to think like Him, but you can do damage to those negative, toxic thoughts. Be on the defensive and guard against them, so they never rob you of your peace.
And you start doing this by making a choice. No, it’s not always easy. We need to decide that indulging in negative thoughts never really brings us anything good, but choosing truth will bring us what our hearts (and our minds!) really long for.
Romans 8:6 says it best.
“To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” – Romans. 8:6 ESV
Life – that which is real and genuine and full and blessed. And peace – peace of mind, peace of heart, peace knowing He’s got this. He’s got you. It is well.
Choosing with you to think like He does,
Let’s start practicing this now. Would you leave us a comment and tell us one truth that God wants you to believe today, a nugget on which you can meditate and fill your minds with? What might be one positive thought that God is thinking about you today? How could that change your thinking? I can’t wait to hear!! Thanks!
“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.”