Recently I have been struggling with taking my thoughts captive. I have allowed certain thoughts to really have their way within my mind, gathering power as they roll around, over and over again. Sometimes it’s just very easy to allow thoughts to get a foothold in our mind and not even realize that it is something that needs to be addressed and not allowed to grow. As I was letting my negative thoughts take hold one morning during my prayer time I realized, this is exactly how strongholds begin within us.
Strongholds start in our thoughts and lead to belief systems. It starts with negative thought patterns, such as “today is a terrible day”, or “I just can’t do this anymore”, or “why do these terrible things always happen to me”. These are just a few of the many examples of the thought patterns we struggle with that take root in us without us even realizing it. We are caught up in the emotion of whatever comes upon us, and we allow our thoughts to go in whatever direction our feelings guide us.
It is very important to remember that our soul is where our heart and emotion reside. According to the Word, we are easily deceived when we follow the leading of our hearts, because the condition of man is sinful. Therefore we cannot trust our hearts (aka our souls) to lead us, especially in emotional situations. We can only trust something that is unchanging and steady; Jesus Christ. Jesus does not change and is righteous and holy. Therefore we must compare every thought we have to His Word in scripture, and then give it over to Him so that He can unveil the truth hidden behind the emotion.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ
2 Cor 10:3-5
Time and time again I have found myself going into a negative thought pattern and giving it reign over my mind. Little did I know that these were thoughts that had been playing out in my mind like a broken record, year in and year out. Maybe some of the thoughts had changed in some ways, but basically it was the same negative pattern that led down the same road. If God says He is God, then why am I so miserable, and why does the world look so terrible? It finally dawned on me that these thoughts took hold of me long ago and formed roots that went very deep.
Somewhere in my heart, I decided long ago that God was not who He said He was. I just could not come to terms that any part of me really felt that. I know that I love Jesus. I know that God is good. I have seen the miracles He has worked in my life, time and time again. However, if my heart truly believed in the goodness of God and His provision over every area of my life, then why would I constantly come back to these thought patterns that conveyed mistrust of Him?
I could not see that deep in the hidden recesses of my heart I did not believe God’s promises of love and provision. I could not see how I could easily fall apart when things went wrong because I wasn’t standing on the truth. And I could not see that even though in my mind I knew all of God’s promises and of His love, I was really not accepting them as though they were for me. I could tell myself all day long I believed all these truths, but in my heart I truly did not believe.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Roman 12:2
It was not that I didn’t believe in God or Christ, or even love Him with all my heart, mind and soul. It was that the hurt and dysfunction of my life had rendered me heart-broken and unable to accept these truths. My heart was in so much pain that it easily received the lies the devil had been sowing into me all along. The lies that I was unlovable, not worthy of God, and worse yet, that God is a liar and is not able to hold me up when I fall apart.
That is why it is so important to test every thought we have. We need to be willing to discipline our thought life for a time instead of letting our emotions run around like children on the playground. That way if our thoughts do not align with the mind of Christ, we know that we need to allow His Word to renew and transform us from the inside out. Without God’s truth we are susceptible to the lies of the devil, lies we may have already fell prey to years ago.
The devil wants nothing more than to bring us into submission to his will. He stands before the throne of God day and night, hurling accusations against us in the courts of heaven. Unfortunately because the devil brings so much pain and despair with his lies, we fall into submission to these lies and allow them to dictate and even direct our lives in many ways. As long as we believe the lie, it serves its purpose to tear us down and bring us away from God. That is where the strongholds take place.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Years and years of false beliefs grow deeply into our hearts, taking root and establishing patterns of behavior that go unnoticed by us. We blame it on our lives, on others, on our circumstances, and even on God. The one who never takes the blame is the evil one who has set his face against each of us. We need to live by the truth that we are holy and blameless in the eyes of God, and adopted in son-ship through Jesus Christ into His family.
The moment we come to a place to recognize how far from the Word we have fallen, we need to start reigning our souls in and allow the Spirit of the Lord to led us instead. He is here every moment of our lives to guide and protect us. Even though God may not protect us in the ways we deem necessary, He is always with us. As we allow His Spirit to take charge over our lives, He will bring a great depth of healing into our hearts.
Our hearts are where our strongholds lie, and that is where we must begin. It is from our heart that life flows, and God is willing to give us a new heart; one that is purified and refined from the lies of the devil. It all starts with the Word of God. The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit in our Armor, and we must allow it to shape and define us, separating us from all that is unholy and untrue.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Where do we start when we want to break down spiritual strongholds? With our thoughts. Our thoughts will be the beginning of the trail that will lead us to the beliefs we hold in our hearts. Our thoughts betray the true intentions of our hearts. When we take our thoughts captive and give them to Christ, we can be sure that He will lead us to the next step. Jesus is more than willing and able to bring us the freedom and healing we truly desire.
So for today, start by acknowledging the worries and struggles that have been filling your mind. Take a mental inventory of those swirling thoughts by writing them down. Then go over them one by one and notice if there is a pattern to them over the next few days. Ask Jesus to guide you in this process as you give these thoughts to Him. Allow Him to gently guide you to the next step of recovering what has been stolen from you. Hope and truth.
Once you begin to take your thoughts captive the real work begins. Jesus can start giving you truth and you can start relying on that as you navigate your heart and search it for where it has gone astray. You can see the places in your life where the lies began to take hold and take root, giving every circumstance over to Jesus. Jesus can reestablish and rehabilitate your heart and mind to reconcile it back to Himself. We only need to be willing.
he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven