It was on my mind first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, and seemingly every other moment in between. I just couldn’t seem to escape the negative thoughts that had plagued me all week long.
The negative attitude I wrestled with came out not only in my thoughts, but in my speech, as well. Every chance I had, I grumbled about the undeserved injustice to my husband and to the Lord. I felt trapped by my own sin.
Take your thoughts captive.
The Spirit nudged me time and again, yet I couldn’t quite figure out how to do what Scripture so clearly teaches and make myself obedient to Christ. The idea seemed good in theory, but much more difficult in practice!
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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 – emphasis added)
We know that as Christian women, we are responsible for not only our actions, but also our actions and attitudes. We know we’re supposed to control our thoughts and to renew our minds, but how do we actually do that?
The following practical tips will help you take your thoughts captive!
6 Practical Ways to Take Your Thoughts Captive
1.Truth Journaling to take your thoughts captive.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Scripture teaches us that a knowledge of God’s truth brings real freedom! And that transformation takes place as we allow our minds to be renewed with such truth. When we feel paralyzed by a negative attitude, we must take our thoughts captive by comparing each thought with the truth.
You can easily do this by simply writing down a lie you might be tempted to believe or a wrong thought you’re having and then write the truth right next to it. Even better, add a scripture to back up the truth you wrote down.
If you struggle with the same negative thoughts often, you’ll want to pay close attention to the next tip because it is a natural extension of truth journaling!
2. Scripture Memorization & Meditation to take your thoughts captive.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
The Bible teaches us to think about things that are true, honorable, pure – everything that is good (rather than everything that is negative!).
One of the most practical ways to “set your mind” is to memorize and meditate on Scripture, especially bible verses that pertain to the particular negative thoughts that plague you!
Do you wrestle with Anger? Memorize and meditate on Proverbs 15:1. Unforgiveness? Memorize and meditate on Ephesians 4:32. You get the idea – find a bible verse that speaks to your specific negative thoughts and take your thoughts captive!
The more time you spend with scripture, the easier it is for the Spirit to bring those previously memorized verses to mind in the midst of a negative thought. In addition, hiding God’s Word in our hearts (memorizing it) and meditating on it can actually prevent sin and encourage obedience in our lives!
Even Jesus fought temptation using scripture when faced with the enemy in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-4)!
3. Sensory Input for taking your thoughts captive.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)
Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. ~ Martin Luther
One trick for changing a thought pattern my husband and I learned through counseling is to use some sort of sensory input as a trigger to remind you to focus on truth or reality rather than fear, anger, etc.
My husband prefers a physical object (like a coin he can keep in his pocket) to touch when negative thoughts assail him, while I prefer to turn on some encouraging music.
Perhaps you need a visual reminder (like a Bible verse or a quote) placed in a strategic spot is a better form of sensory input for you. Likewise, your sense of smell could be a better trigger for truth through the use of an essential oil or a scented lotion.
Find a method that works best for you – something that will get your attention and remind you to set your mind and heart on things above!
4. Confessing your sins to take your thoughts captive.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16a (NIV)
Hidden sin festers like rotten food, destroying us from the inside out. However, we cannot overcome what we aren’t willing to even acknowledge.
As Christ-followers, we are called to honest confession (1 John 1:5-9) because dragging our darkness out into the light brings freedom!
Confessing sin isn’t easy, but it is necessary for real Christian growth. If you struggle to take your thoughts captive, enlist the help of an accountability partner – someone rooted in the Word and reliable enough to confront you regularly about your thought life.
An accountability partner can serve not only to help you drag sin out into the light, but they can also be a good prayer warrior on your behalf, which leads to the next tip for overcoming negative thinking…
5. The Power of Prayer for taking your thoughts captive.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5 (NIV)
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16b (NIV)
If we want to be Spirit-led women, then we must set our minds on God’s ways rather than our own desires.
Yet some days, setting our minds on the Spirit feels impossible, doesn’t it? Whether we are simply wrestling with the flesh or experiencing a spiritual attack, resisting negative thoughts is often a moment-by-moment choice.
Alongside the Word of God, prayer is our next best weapon against the lies and temptations we face daily. Prayer is powerful, friends!
If your negative thoughts have to do with your self (your flaws, your identity, etc.), then ask God to guard your mind and keep you centered on His truth (Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7).
If your negative thoughts concern others, pray for them (Matthew 5:44). Ask God to give you His love for them.
When you’re really wrestling with a sin or an issue, enlist other prayer warriors like the apostle Paul did (Philippians 1:19, Romans 15:30). After all, even Jesus requested the prayer of his closest friends when he faced the cross (Matthew 26:36-38). link to Divine Encounter
6. Physical activity to take your thoughts captive.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV – emphasis added)
One final practical way to overcome negative thinking by adjusting your attitude is to get some exercise! The natural endorphins released when we are physically active can turn a sour mood into a sweeter one. I’ve witnessed this truth at work not only in my own life, but also in the life of one of our sons who always has a lot of pent up energy and emotions.
Angry thoughts, in particular, can often be overcome by working out some agression physically (go for a walk or run, punch a punching bag, etc.). Sadness and anxiety can also be helped by a brisk walk, especially if it gets you outdoors into nature!
And while you’re exercising your body, you can exercise your mind by training it to think on all that is true and lovely.
As much as we might wish for it, there is no magic pill to cure a negative attitude. Even the tried and true methods mentioned above for an attitude adjustment won’t always work alone. Many times we need a combination of scripture, prayer, confession, accountability, and other practical helps to overcome our negative thoughts!
Don’t give up, friend.
Renewing your mind isn’t a one-and-done deal. It takes real perseverance!
But as women who are new in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin.
Choose a mind that’s been renewed!
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