Christians are called to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). We know that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). But often our minds seem to be out of our control. Thoughts come unbidden and unwanted. They entice us into sin or taunt us with doubts. So how do we control these thoughts and truly take them captive?
A common counseling technique for dealing with thoughts is to allow thoughts to be. Rather than attach meaning to our thoughts as if they were an action or a value statement, we simply have a thought and take it at face value. This reduces some of the power a thought may have over us. We receive our thoughts as information and then determine how to respond. Our thoughts do not direct us; we direct our thoughts.
Second Corinthians 5:17 declares, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." One way to take our thoughts captive is to remind ourselves that we are new creations. Yes, we are in the process of sanctification and do not yet feel new, but in the eyes of God we are righteous. When an unbidden thought comes into our minds, we first recognize the thought and then analyze it in light of the truth that we are new creations. Is this a thought that is godly? Is this a thought that comes from the new creation or from my sinful nature? Once we determine that, we are better able to dismiss or act on the thought.
Another helpful method is prayer. When we live in a spirit of prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17), it is easy to give our thoughts to God. What is not of Him will be more recognizable because we are living closely with Him. And He will be right there to take that thought away.
Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." When we steep ourselves in the truth of God's Word, our minds are renewed. When we know truth, we are set free (John 8:32). Perhaps the best way to take control of our thoughts is to fill our minds with the truth and the thoughts of God through His Word.
It should be noted that sometimes intrusive, overwhelming, odd, or otherwise disturbing thoughts can be related to certain medical conditions or other physiological abnormalities. Appropriate medical care should be sought in such cases.
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