Does sin control our entire life so much, that its bondage has enslaved us, and we don’t know what to do? The starting place of all sin is evil thoughts which develop in the mind. But there isn’t one bad thought process or attitude that God can’t free us from (see Romans 6:3-4). The power of God, which is greater than all power of sin, darkness and bondage, is the Cross. Christ broke the grip of sin for anyone caught up in it when He died for us on the Cross.
After an army besieges a fortress and batters down its walls to take it, the people inside become prisoners. We are likewise to pull down those hostile thoughts which raise themselves like fortresses against Christ, and bring them to nothing, along with our hostile opinions, plans, decisions, etc. The Apostle Paul had a very bold thought life—until God’s grace took him captive. After that, he laid it all at Christ’s feet. It was the power of God in the Gospel that tore down all his old high thoughts, reasonings and strongholds. Then he was taken captive—not against, but in agreement with his will—so he could gladly and voluntarily surrender to Christ.
Many people assume that there’s something not easily perceived in our thought life—something so unpredictable, so undisciplined and difficult to understand—that it’s beyond our will to control. It is possible to discipline it, but we aren’t to bring it captive to religion—we’re to bring it to Christ. He never sinned, or failed in thought, word or deed even once. He doesn’t treat people; He delivers them from the very clutches and bondages of sin.
Today the world is hostile to Christ because His people haven’t been obeying Him. Too many of our customary moods, attitude and conduct that we have toward life are coming from thoughts and ideas we’ve never brought into captivity to Him. “Thoughts” here means products of our imagination concentrated on following our own will. We’re to take all our thoughts, deliberations, and conclusions captive to be obedient to Christ instead. This especially includes our reason, which governs our soul. The pride of our human reasoning makes its own decision to judge supernatural and spiritual things on principles that are completely natural. But Paul said that the weapons of our warfare are capable of throwing all that down. They’re able to bring every idea we come up with into perfect obedience to Christ’s demands, in both thought and in action.
But “bringing into captivity” means more than just taking someone or something captive. It also means “leading captive,” as if in a triumphal procession. Paul’s spiritual warfare crushed whatever was opposed to Christ and brought it into obedience to Him (see Romans 1:5; 16:26). In this warfare, the battle has been waged in Christ’s name—because He’s the great Captain. By His power, the victory has been won. All our plans of life should be controlled by His will, and then formed and carried out under His control—as a conqueror leads his captives.
Once our mind has been overcome and made a captive, it is able to lay down its own authority and totally surrender itself. Then we can be faithfully obedient to its Conqueror, Jesus Christ. We need to be willing to let Him lead us as a captive led by a conqueror. We are therefore to bring “…every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” which means totally submitting our human mind to the Lord. And all affections and emotions of our heart should also be under His control. There’s only one power that can set the captive free to have a new heart and life—the power of Jesus, the Healer of the broken heart and life.
The force of ideas is mightier than the force of armies. The Gospel triumphs over all of the imagination, reason and other powers of the mind, which are like inhabitants of a captured city. “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 Corinthians 10:5). Every power of thought, every system of philosophy and every form of opinion among people of the pagan world is intended to submit to the laws of Christ. Strongholds of pride, sin and paganism in a person are to be destroyed. This also applies to our powers of memory, reason and judgment. Then the walls of the city will be thrown down. No follower of Christ should be held captive to the thoughts and things of this world.
The Gospel of Christ is aimed at the strongholds of Satan. It calls on His followers to beat these strongholds down, so He can rescue people from the bondage of Satan to make them His own captives. He has given His people weapons to bring down the power of the enemy, along with every one of his strongholds and fortresses. For all who continually trust and believe Christ, those strongholds in their own life will be brought down, one by one.
Satan’s desire is to hold us all in captivity and never let us go. But the Lord Jesus is able to break any stronghold and change our whole life! He came to liberate those who have been captured, defeated in battle and imprisoned or enslaved. The only message that has the ability to deliver these captives is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The power of Satan is no match for His power! There’s power in Christ crucified and in the name of Jesus! We need to crucify every thought that’s contrary to Christ. No other force can break their hold on us. Then we’ll discover that, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). If we will just believe it, He’s more than able to do it!