“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ“ 2 Corinthians 10:5
In the realm of spiritual warfare, one of the chief strategies deployed in the fight has been developed from a phrase found in the passage cited above, “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Typically, this wartime strategy, around which several popular “Christian” books have been written, is viewed as a command to control the thoughts of the mind and should one get out of line, we are to capture it immediately and bring it into conformity to all that our Lord commands. While this is likely an appropriate way to avoid thinking unholy thoughts, by “capturing” them, literally forcing them out of your mind by meditating on Scripture or the attributes of God as He has revealed, this is not an accurate interpretation of the passage.
Note again the larger context of the Apostle’s argument, “3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
We may observe that the context for this statement is indeed spiritual warfare, “we are not waging war according to the flesh.” However the opponent that Paul identifies is not one’s own thoughts, but the thoughts of others. He is not describing a personal strategy in which he takes his own thoughts captive, instead he is describing the warfare that takes place between himself (and likely other Apostles) and those who raise “arguments and every lofty opinion…against the knowledge of God.” It is those contrary thoughts of others that the Apostle identifies as the target of captivity.
Turning again to our own internal battle of spiritual warfare in the mind, is this a passage that we can employ to exhort us into taking rogue, sinful thoughts captive? Yes and no. We’ve seen how the context dictates that the warfare the Apostle has in mind is with those who raise thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God. However, we may well find ourselves in the cross-hairs of the Apostle should our own thoughts be contrary to the knowledge of God. Some examples of these thoughts would be:
- The desire for control
All these and more are contrary to the knowledge of God, or better, contrary to what we know about God as He has revealed concerning Himself through His Holy Word. Therefore we may say that the exhortation derived from this passage to take every thought captive is not an immediate rallying call for spiritual warfare of the mind. However, we must set our minds on things above, as we read in Colossians 3:2 and elsewhere. Should we find ourselves given to rebellious, sinful thoughts, this passage from 2 Corinthians puts us in the cross-hairs of God’s Word that, like a two-edged sword divides and discerns our thoughts laying them open and bare before the Almighty.