“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)
I recently started working my way through a book called The Bondage Breaker, by Neil T. Anderson.
Early on, the recurring theme of “taking every thought captive” struck me as something that should probably be second nature to most Christians. We hear lies from the enemy. We recognize them as rubbish. We take them captive, dismiss them, and we move on. Easy-peasy, right?
Or so I thought. In recent months of intense spiritual warfare, the greatest battle being waged is not in my circumstances. The fiercest fight is the one for my mind. When under spiritual attack, I lose focus and my ability to discern God’s voice is weakened. It’s as if I’m in tune with the wrong radio frequency.
God is always speaking clearly, unveiling truth — but my ability and/or willingness to hear what He is saying to me through my circumstances is stifled at best, and sorely distorted at worst. When I allow myself to believe the enemy’s lie — even for a split second — it sends me in a downward spiral that can take days, weeks, months, even years to overcome.
By failing to take the offending thought captive as I know I should, I instead allow the thought itself to take me captive — with the enemy himself tightening my shackles in delight.
For an instant, it seems believing the lie is less painful than dismissing it. Wallowing in sorrow and self-pity, I embody and spread offense; I putrefy in disgust and disappointment. I taunt spirits that hinder my judgment and welcome the thief to steal my peace. He captures me, tortures me and distorts me into a person I do not know, a person I absolutely do not want to be.
So, who am I? Or perhaps more appropriately, whose am I? I believe these things to be true about myself:
- I am a beloved daughter of the King of Heaven and a disciple of Jesus Christ.
- I am a desperately broken sinner, saved by unthinkable grace and mercy.
- I am forgiven — and though it baffles me, I am now a minister of reconciliation for God.
- I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
- I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me.
And yet, in a weak moment, I’m still tempted to distrust God’s character. I doubt His goodness, His love. In my flesh, I try to do it myself, clinging desperately to anything I think I can control. And I fail — every time.
It’s a slow fade into this dark place. I find myself treading in deep water before I knew I stepped away from the shore. Discernment is difficult, especially when you’re tired, strung out, or emotionally taxed. Lies can sound a lot like truth when you’re in a weakened or confused state.
Herein lies the urgency of “taking every thought captive” as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians. Every. Single. Thought. Here are some ways to discern lies and demonic voices posing as truth in an attempt to destroy:
- They are loud, urgent, nagging and/or distracting.
- They are confusing or inconsistent with established truth.
- They are poorly-developed or nonsensical.
- They ring of despair, hate, anxiety, fear, offense — anything uncharacteristic of God.
- They sabotage, attacking moments that would otherwise be filled with joy.
When a lie is identified, my only hope is to take the thought captive by quieting the voices in prayer.
Father, I submit to you. I praise you – I am nothing and can do nothing without you. I recognize the high price Jesus payed for my authority against evil spirits like this one I hear; and I trust that in my identity as your child they have no power over me. I take authority over lies/evil thoughts/spirits breaking into my vision and I command them to be gone in the name of Jesus. Let me also die to my own voice — let nothing of me be heard. Only you, Father. Amen.
I share this with you in complete humility. It’s been less than a week since a lie from the pit of Hell took me captive, to a place I never dreamed I’d go. Even while embracing these truths about my identity and equipped with knowledge of how to dismiss the lie, I still lost myself in a moment of weakness. But where I am weak, He is strong. His grace covers me. I don’t deserve His mercy, but I receive it. I believe He is who he says He is, and who He says I am.
A friend reminded me that oftentimes the evil one will hit hardest when you’re making real progress toward being truly obedient to the Father. I know now that I need to be mentally on my guard, wearing the full armor of God at all times.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” — Ephesians 6:10-18