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How to Take Thoughts Captive to The Obedience of Christ

by Michael Edwards  
3/03/2018 / Bible Studies


I agree we should always do the next right thing and pay attention to our thinking. But I also am a big fan of trusting what the Bible states and vetting all preaching I hear through the Word of God. There is an important difference in what is normally preached and what the Word states when it comes to taking thoughts captive.

Traditionally it is taught that Christians are to take every thought captive to obey Christ. First, let me ask how you have done at this task? For most, the answer is poorly. 

The truth is, the verse in question is not telling us to make our thoughts obey Christ, it is telling us to captivate our thoughts and minds with Jesus obedience, His finished work on the cross, His obedience and His righteousness that makes us righteous in Him. This should always be our focus, the song on our hearts and minds. This is the armor of God and how we stop the attacks of the enemy cold. 

Let me back this up with scripture. Some translations say take every thought captive to obey Christ but they are in error when the Greek is read. For example, two of the translations that have it in error are the NIV and NLT. 

Two examples that are in error:

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 Cor 10:5 NIV

We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.2 Cor 10:5 NLT

Two versions that have it correct are the NAS and the KJV.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ2 Cor 10:5 NAS

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; 2 Cor 10:5 KJV

Can you see the difference? It is enormous.

1)   The incorrect translations tell us to take every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

2)   The correct translations tell us to take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

Number 2, the correct translation is talking about Jesus Obedience. Number 1, the incorrect and most preached, is talking about our obedience.  You can read the literal Greek to English translation for yourself here: http://biblehub.com/text/2_corinthians/10-5.htm.  

Whose Obedience Have You Placed Your Faith In?

Before accepting Jesus, we all had our faith placed in our own ability to obey God. One day we realized the truth and admitted we were powerless to fulfill Gods perfect standard. We realized we were guilty and shifted our faith from our ability unto Jesus finished work on the cross.

The incorrect translation of this verse shifts our faith back to our own ability while the correct translation keeps our faith where it belongs, in Jesus where we are righteous, holy, sanctified and perfected. It is not about our perfect obedience to the law; it is about Jesus perfect obedience where our focus needs to be. We are to keep our eyes on the solution, not the problem. We are to be Christ-conscious, righteousness conscious and not sin conscious. 

The verse we are discussing is offered by Paul in the context of spiritual warfare.

3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 cor 10: 3-5

Our weapons are not of the flesh, not of our own ability.  It is certainly not our obedience that gives us the power to destroy fortresses. Christ's obedience gave us divine power to destroy everything raised up against the knowledge of God. We are to keep our focus on our righteousness in Christ while Satan does everything he can to shift it back to our own lack of obedience. 

Note, the verse in question tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. If it was talking about our obedience, it would say take every wrong thought captive. This verse is clearly telling us to think on Jesus finished work that makes us righteous all of the time. 

Victory in our spiritual battle comes when our thoughts and minds are captivated with Jesus finished work on the cross and see ourselves as God sees us, righteous, holy, sanctified and perfected in Christ right now. This means we meditate on His finished work all the time just like Paul did.

We Are Free

We are set free by believing the truth that Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification and righteousness. We cannot perfect ourselves by legalistic living. The incorrect translation places us back under the law where we experience guilt and condemnation when we fail, while the correct translation properly applied in our life sets us free. 

Paul tells us we received the Holy Spirit, were saved, by hearing the gospel mixed with faith. He then tells us it is futile to try and perfect ourselves by the flesh, by law keeping.

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Even so Abraham BELIEVED GODAND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESSGal 3:1-5 NAS

We are already Righteous, Holy, Sanctified and Perfected in the spirit by His shed blood. The flesh will never be perfected, that is why it must die.

Study: Jesus is The End of The Law for Believers

I Am Holy, I Am Sanctified, I Am Perfected

God Said a Believer Can Never be Considered Unholy

Only Way to be Righteous

What Would It Look Like to Take Thoughts Captive to Christ’s Obedience?

Therefore, we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, not our obedience. Remind yourself that Jesus obeyed perfectly for you, as you, in your place. When Satan points out your failures and tries to bring thoughts of guilt, fear, condemnation and worry, remind Satan of your righteousness in Christ. When he tries to interject a thought that God is angry with you because of your failures, remind him that all of your sins have been punished on the cross in the body of Jesus and God will never be angry with you. Tell him that all of your guilt and condemnation fell on Jesus. It is not about you; it is all about Jesus finished work. Trust Him and rest in it. Think about who you are in Christ all the time. This is the armor of God put on by faith.

Study: God SWORE I Will NOT be Angry With or Rebuke Believers

Under the Old Covenant, if the sin offering had worked, they would no longer be conscious of their sins, they would be conscious of their forgiveness.

Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? Heb 10:2 ESV

In the New Covenant, the perfect sin offering (Jesus) finished the work. Therefore, we are to no longer be conscious of our sins; we are to be conscious of our righteousness in Christ, our forgiveness,  we are to be focused on Jesus sacrifice that has perfected us for all time. To be sin conscious is to doubt God’s finished work and to grieve the Holy Spirit.

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Heb 10:14NAS

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head, can't seem to get it out of there? The best way to get rid of it is to sing (think about) another song. The same goes with renewing your mind from sin consciousness to righteousness and forgiveness consciousWhen your failures pop into your head and Satan accuses you, sing a new song called "Jesus Paid For That One Too." Meditate on the verses that tell you the truth of God's word. You are completely forgiven, righteous, holy, sanctified and perfected in Christ. Captivate your mind with Jesus finished work on the cross.

See studies below for help.

Think About It

So, if you are like me, you have tried to take thoughts captive to obey Christ. The question is how well have you done? When you fail, does it bring guilt and condemnation like the law always does? Why not think about this message today and see where you can apply it in your thought life, and let God do the rest.

Study: Sin Consciousness Grieves the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit Does Not Convict a Believer of Their Sins

Self Occupied or Christ Occupied

A Christians Sins are NOT Counted Against Them

God Forgets Our Sins For His Own Sake

Stop Disqualifying Yourself

What is The One Thing That Keeps a Believer in Sin?

How to be Transformed Into His Image

Lacking These Qualities?

Many more New Covenant Studies HERE.

New Covenant Bible Studies

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