I’m not sure about you, but I don’t have too many enemies. I had that one terrible landlord once, a couple disgruntled employees, and a few times when angry drivers gave me certain rude signs with certain fingers. But for the most part, I have no star-crossed family vendettas or West Side Story-esque, well-choreographed fights with people on the other side of the tracks. This is not true everywhere, of course, but generally we live in a peaceful part of the world where there are very few times when weapons and fighting are necessary. Except, maybe, with ourselves . . . with our own thoughts. Our brains can be our own worst enemies. If you’ve ever had any of these thoughts, maybe you’ll see what I mean:
I have to do more.
I’ll never forgive myself.
I can’t do this.
What if . . . what if?
I’m the worst.
I’m the best.
Why does everyone else seem to . . . ?
Choose your own sinful thought adventure—you get my drift. Sometimes our thoughts are extremely warlike to what God says in his Word, and they need to be utterly demolished. We need to fight against our own sinful thoughts and take them captive. The apostle Paul knew this well, and he shared these truths with the church in Corinth:
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)
Those thoughts I mentioned above? They don’t come from God. But the weapons we use to fight those enemy thoughts? They can only come from God.
So how do we get these amazing weapons? Ultimately, we have to get out of our own heads and into the Word. We are what we eat. If we only consume the garbage of this world, we will have garbage thoughts. But if we consume a steady diet of God’s Word, we can arm ourselves with his divine power and he will help us take captive every thought. His Word is our arsenal. Picture our God opening up the Bible like one of those shady movie characters opens his trench coat to reveal all the various weapons he has hidden in there for sale. Except that God isn’t a shady character, and he hasn’t hidden the weapons deep within secret pockets, and he doesn’t charge us a penny. The weapons are grace and truth and peace and forgiveness and knowledge of who our God is and what he has done for us. He sent his Son to this world to become a part of this world for a little while. Jesus was bombarded on all sides by temptation to believe what this world was offering, but he kept his thoughts captive to what his Father in heaven had in mind. We see that plainly in the following section from the gospel of Matthew, where Jesus had to use a few spiritual weapons to ward off some worldly garbage:
From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things . . . and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but merely human concerns.” (16:21-23)
Jesus needed to focus his mind on God’s will, on God’s plan of salvation. Peter had worldly thoughts in mind, but God had greater thoughts, and Jesus demolished every argument that set itself up against God’s plan. With Jesus’ death on a cross and his rising from the grave, the war was won for us; however, we still have daily battles . . . not with that curmudgeonly neighbor or an old high school bully but within our own brains. Thankfully we have been given all the weapons we need to take our thoughts captive and maybe exchange those POW thoughts with one of the good guys. The Word is full of the good guys—good passages we can turn to and realize all that has been done for us and all the goodness of God. Great comforting sections to help us through difficult times and wayward thoughts. Encouragement that although we are in the world, we are not of the world and we should not act and think in the same way as the world.
The same Paul who wrote to Corinth also wrote these words to the Romans:
Do not conform any longer 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. (12:2)
And these words to the Colossians:
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (2:8)
And these words to the Philippians:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. . . . And the God of peace will be with you. (4:8,9)
Peace. Not found in the world. Only found in the Word. Stock your arsenal.