Have you ever thought about “taking every thought captive and making it obedient…”? At times it seems a very slippery subject to grasp for me to master. And, perhaps we are not going to master it. But it certainly can be practiced, otherwise why would we be told to do it?
Dallas Willard has thought about it — and quite in-depth. I can’t add anything more to what he says here, even after some years teaching on the biblical subject pertaining to our sense of identity in Christ. However, I can learn from the fruits of his detailed thoughts and analysis here.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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 10:3-5 NIV
Transformation of the Mind
The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon. It is in our thoughts that the first movements toward the renovation of the heart occur. Thoughts are the place where we can and must begin to change. There the light of God first begins to move upon us through the word of Christ, and there the divine Spirit begins to direct our will to God and his way. We are not totally free in this respect, but we do have great freedom here. We still have the ability and responsibility to try to retain God in our knowledge. And those who do so will surely make progress toward him; for if we truly do seek God as best we can, he, who always knows what is really in our hearts, will certainly make himself known to us.
Clearly our thoughts are one of the most basic sources of our life. By “thoughts” we mean all of the ways in which we are conscious of things—and it includes our memories, perceptions, and beliefs. Thoughts determine the orientation of everything we do and evoke the feelings that frame our world and motivate our actions. Interestingly, you can’t evoke thoughts by feeling a certain way. However, we can evoke—and to some degree control—our feelings by directing our thoughts.
Our essential nature as active and creative beings depends upon our ability to envision what is not the case, as well as what is. Our ability to plan for the future must constantly run ahead of reality. And this we do in thought. A will that runs ahead depends, of course, upon our ability to think; and what we think, imagine, believe, or guess sets boundaries to what we can or will choose, and therefore to what we can create.
As our senses present a landscape for our body and its actions, so our thoughts present the “life-scape” for our will and our life as a whole. Within that “thought life-scape,” which includes our perceptions, we make the decisions that determine what we will do and who we will become.
From Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks. Copyright © 2016 by Willard Family Trust. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Romans 12:1-2 KJV