What does it mean in 2 Cor. 10:5 “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” and how does one achieve this?
Thank you for the meaningful questions. These particular matters affect us every day.
The human mind is far greater than any computer mankind has engineered. Its capability for thinking is truly wonderful, but care must be taken to discern the origination of thoughts. Some thoughts come from our own concentration. Some are triggered from the sensory realm as we see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Some are interjected by the enemy as “fiery darts” (Eph. 6:16). Some are brought to the forefront by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).
The written Word provides a plumb line to test the validity of a given thought. The Spirit of God guides according to this standard. Many thoughts obviously run contrary to God’s will revealed in His Word. Where we are not certain, we must look to the Spirit.
Regarding the meaning of “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” it is vital to discern whether the obedience is to Christ or of Christ. There is no preposition in the text itself. However, the title Christ is in the genitive which grammatically favors the sense “of Christ.”
The context supports this by clarifying, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:3-6).
Our own fleshly attempts to think properly will not prevail. How many times do we fail to think right even when we seem to so desire? The key is understanding the weapons of our warfare reside beyond the realm of the flesh. As believers we are spiritual beings whose spirits are regenerated with divine life and in union with the mighty Spirit of God. This source of leadership and power in the person of the Spirit provides the needed wherewithal to control our thoughts.
The choice of faith is critical to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Faith is not a work but depends on the worker—Jesus. Improper thoughts can and must be brought to Jesus. That a wrong thought is in our brain is not by itself sinful. It’s what we do with it. Do we relish and savor it? Or do we reject it by choosing (loving) Jesus? Whether fleshly thoughts triggered by the world or dark thoughts hurled into our souls from the enemy, we have the privilege of rejecting those thoughts regardless of our feelings and taking Jesus. As we do, those thoughts are brought captive by the winning victory of the delivering life of the indwelling Christ.
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