What Defends the Truth?
2 Cor 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” If you struggle with lust, anxiety, depression, resentment, unforgiveness, anger or hopelessness (and who doesn’t?) this verse is something you should remember and commit it to memory. This is where the battle for your mind resides.
Paul here is talking about false teachers which he confronts with truth, and the false religious thinking that sets itself up against the Gospel. In this way, he acknowledges that all behavior starts in ideas. Philosophy and our thoughts are the fountain from which everything else in our life flows. Ideas have consequences. Bad and false ideas have victims. Good and true ideas bless and elevate.
And Here Is Why
This is because it is always right to walk in the truth, truth always is right, truth always is where we want to be. Truth is reality, and if God is ULTIMATE reality, then embracing truth always brings us closer to God. EVEN IF, in the short term, truth can hurt, truth can be uncomfortable, truth can cut off pathways to illicit pleasures, and truth can wake us up out of comfy slumber. We, who follow the one who said, “I am the Truth” and who said, “The Truth with set you free” have a bias towards thinking the truth, believing the truth, and living in that truth.
Truth Is Not a Given
So, with this bias toward truth, we must realize Truth is not natural or a given. There are Forces arrayed against the Truth in our lives. Our urges, our instincts, our feelings are not automatic ‘truth detectors’. Hardly! And then there is the arch villain of the Truth: the devil, whom Jesus called the “Father of Lies”. As such he knows that to derail our lives in Christ, to wreck us, to devour us, he must first get inside our heads. He must seed lies there and hope they lead to death.
This is how he wars with God – through attacking us, the Image Bearers of God. And his battle strategy is for our MINDS. The mind is what he is after, but it is the mind that Jesus’ Spirit comes to transform (Rom 12:2). Our thinking changes by the Spirit of God, and this changes everything else about us, turning us away from what is false toward what is true and what it is Life.
The Holy Spirit Is Our Best Defense
When we come into Christ, the Spirit comes to reside in us, and he helps us win this battle for our Minds. As part of the battle strategy, we recognize by God’s Spirit the thoughts which do not conform to the Gospel Truth. When we do, what do we do with those thoughts, those ideas, those arguments, built on half-truths and lies? We do what Paul says here: “Take them Captive.”
This means first pointing them out. That is, we do not let them go unidentified. We do not assume they are just “stinkin’ thinkin’”. Do not let them hang around like spider webs in the corner of our minds, just lurking there all the time. Instead, we say before God, “the thought that I just thought is a rogue thought. It doesn’t belong in a redeemed mind.” After you have identified it, Paul’s word is, “take it captive” – like a prisoner of war, put it in chains. Then one final step, make it obedient to Christ.
Imagine it like a scene from a war movie: You have been deputized with God’s badge of peace to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Then you identify the intruder. You put it in chains and bring to your Commanding Officer: “Here it is Master, it doesn’t belong in this camp. Do with it what you will.”
And then leave it there and entrust the thought you have made captive, to Christ. Replace the captive thought with “Truth” and walk on.
For example, let us say your wife has been particularly nasty to you today. This is true, it happened, but that is not the lie that intrudes, which must be taken captive. The lie is this: “yes, she was mean, and you know what? She’s ALWAYS mean, and you do not deserve that, and you could do better. Your life would be better without her. You should respond to her the same way, show her how it feels. The kids would be better off without watching how she talks you down…”
It does not take a lot of imagination to know where this train will go from there.
Taking this thought captive is stopping this train as it becomes a fully formed thought. We must see what sub-Gospel in it is. Then understand what the exaggeration is and false and what violates the Word (which is True). Then replace it with Truth, for example,
- “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Eph 4:31-32
Is This Where It Ends?
Now, is that it? All gone? No, you will need to repeat as needed, to find victory over these intrusive and false thoughts. It will amount to a regular spiritual discipline. A practiced sort of mindfulness about your mind! A regular care and feeding of the brain. This discipline will have the same effect as any other discipline, in which the more you do it, the more the habit will reinforce itself, accessing more of the Holy Spirit’s power and you will be freer and freer every day.
Conversely, the less you do it, the less you will be able to separate the lies from the truth because you will just assume all thoughts are your thoughts. The more you do that, the more you deify your common sense; the more your feelings will define truth. You will not parse your thinking; it will become all one jumbled mess and you’ll slide daily into defeat and wonder where God’s Spirit is. Keep going and defeat stops looking like defeat and the lie will seem like the truth and the truth like a lie.
To avoid that future, prepare for this: when you first start to practice the presence of God and taking thoughts captive, the intrusive thoughts will come back very quickly. You will think nothing has changed. But persevere! Do not become weary in this fight. The cycles will lengthen out between bouts of anxiety or lust or hopelessness or guilt or unforgiveness or rationalization and you will look back at some point and see transformation.
By a renewing of your mind.
Reflect on a time where the lies slipped in under the guise of truth in your mind. Where you successful at fighting them off? What helped or could have helped?
There are several examples in the blog about when the lies creep in, pick two and write counter arguments built on real truths.
When you see others dealing with “Battles of the Mind” what are some ways you can intercede?