How To Take Every Thought Captive

Every day our thoughts are threatened to be taken captive by the world. We are bombarded with lies and false beliefs. Our minds are a battleground. I will be the first to admit that I use self-deprecating language as a crutch and a defense mechanism. If I put myself down first, then other people can’t hurt me by using those same words. 

Self-deprecation or self-demeaning is defined as “a person criticizing themselves or representing themselves as foolish in a light-hearted way.”

Our thoughts are fleeting – they can change from one moment to the next. It happens to the best of us. We are going about our day as we normally would then BAM! One slight thing can change our thoughts and turn them into despair. 

We look at others and compare ourselves and we don’t measure up. Then comes the ripple effect: Am I good enough? Should I have said that? Will God provide for me? How did I look at that moment? And the list goes on repeating in our heads until we almost drive ourselves crazy. We analyze and think about the situation over and over again. And it starts to drag us down. 

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This has happened to me countless times where I end up retreating into my own head and forget the people around me. I get so in my head that I can’t think of anything else. Satan loves to use our thoughts against us. He loves to fill our thoughts with fear, anxiety, and doubt. He whispers in our ears that we are failures, unclean and damned – a voice that turns into self-deprecation. The negativity that wells up as a result of self-deprecation keeps us from the life that we are meant to live. 

It is a constant battle to keep our thoughts pure and captive to Christ. Luckily, we have weapons and armor to fight against the negative thought cycle. Taking your thoughts captive simply means gaining control over what you think about yourself and your life. It is understanding that despite your failures, Jesus loves you anyway. You are beloved by the One who took our condemnation upon himself.

The Bible tells us to take every thought captive to Christ. That means the negative thoughts that consume your mind should be given to Christ. He wants to take on those burdens and help you find the peace that surpasses all understanding. 

Bible Verses About Taking Your Thoughts Captive

God wants us to renew our minds and live according to what is righteous, true and holy. The way we can do that is to think of ourselves less and think of Jesus more. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what other people think of us or what we think of ourselves it is up to the One who created us. He made us to be image-bearers and declared all of His creation, including you and me, to be good. We must view Him rightly in order to have a right view of ourselves. 

Through God’s Word, you can learn how to live in freedom from your negative thoughts. God is the truth and the purpose of sending His Son into the World was to transform your heart and mind to become more like Him. It is essential that you arm yourself with the Word of God. Turn to these Bible verses to take your thought captive to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5: We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Matthew 4:4: “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Ephesians 4:22-23: to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

John 16:13: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 17:17: Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Romans 12:3:  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Why It Is Important to Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

Whether you want to hear it or not, self-deprecating language comes from a place of pride. We become so sensitive to what others think of us and overly sensitive to the standards by which we evaluate. In those moments, we focus our eyes on yourself – “I am so horrible. I will never amount to anything. I am not capable of being loved. I don’t do anything right.” These are all things that take our eyes off of Jesus. These voices rob us of love, joy, and faith as well as the ability to think of and serve others.

It is important to keep our eyes on Jesus because He took on our shame and imperfections when He died on the cross. He invites you to come out of yourself and look towards a greater reality. He is telling you He will take care of you, love you and redeem you. He is the source of your salvation, the author and perfector of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). He will pull you out of yourself so you can experience God’s love. There is a place of mercy, hope, and restoration in Jesus Christ. You are a child of the Living God. You are beloved and adored by Him. 

How To Take Your Thoughts Captive

What we think is crucial to how we live our lives. We all have thought patterns that could use some work. According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts. How can we control the countless thoughts that enter our minds every day? How can we seriously take every thought captive?

To be honest, people don’t have enough time, attention or energy to think about anything that you did. They have their minds full of their own kids, jobs, spouses, finances, etc. So they are pretty busy NOT thinking about you.

Now I can’t promise those negative, self-deprecating thoughts won’t creep in from time-to-time but we can learn the tools to retrain and free ourselves to experience God’s joy! God is not a God of self-condemnation and He has provided a way to overcome unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. 

Meditate on God’s Word

God wants you to focus your mind on the right things. When you meditate on God’s word you can develop a new frame of reference. When we focus on replacing our negative thoughts with God’s truth, we will experience the peace only He has to offer. 

Perhaps someone says something negative to you and you let it start to spiral you into negative thoughts. This has happened to me numerous times where one little saying affects my whole day. I let that person have power over my mind and thoughts. But I have a chance to change my narrative and stop those thoughts from creeping into my heart. 

I do this by remembering God’s Words and the truth He lays out in the Bible. The Word of God is our armor and the Holy Spirit is there to help us combat those negative thoughts. We can pray in the moment to God to help us stop from going down the negative thought spiral. 

God calls us to live by His Word – the infallible truth. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit are there to help us take every thought captive. The Bible can help you reframe the way you think and react to negativity. By God’s grace, we can overcome our self-deprecation and take our thoughts captive to Christ. 

Journal About Your Thoughts

The next step would be to journal about your thoughts. You can write down your negative thoughts in one column in the list form. Dig deep and write your thoughts about fears, failures, insecurities, losses, stressors, worries, etc.

Make another column or separate list by looking up Bible verses for every negative thought. For example: if you fear failure, write down 2 Corinthians 12:9. If you have an insecurity about the way you look, write down Luke 12:22-24. Shifting your thoughts takes practice. When you journal about your thoughts, you will begin to replace every negative thought with God’s truth. You will see the truth of who God is and who He says you are. God gives us a definition of ourselves. His power and presence can actually help us overcome our self-deprecating thoughts. He offers us grace, love, and care. 

Question Your Negative Thought

I will preface this by saying that I am not a therapist but after some thoughtful research and my own personal time spent in therapy, I have found it helpful to question the negative thoughts inside my head. This exercise helps you see the self-deprecating thought for what it is – just a thought. It will help you be cognitively aware of when those thoughts creep into your mind and ultimately help you move on from them. 

Ask yourself what you are fearful of: failure, success, disappointing others, not being enough, etc. Similarly as above, once you get all these fears out on the table you can hold them up against God’s truth. If it doesn’t line up with God’s Word, that thought is a lie. You must change it before you go down the negative spiral into despair and hopelessness. Whose voice are you going to listen to, the one in your head or God’s voice, speaking of wonderful grace, forgiveness, and love? You must question and identify the negative thought so you can know whose voice you listen to the most, and change the direction of your thoughts if you need to. 

If you struggle with getting yourself out of a negative thought cycle, seek professional help such as a therapist, life coach or counselor – objectivity can go a long way in helping you reframe your mindset. I have a coach who is helping me understand my faulty beliefs (which leads to self-deprecating language) so that I can live out my calling – a beloved Child of God. We aren’t called to do life alone. We all need someone to walk alongside us. We need someone who will help question our negative thoughts against what the Bible says. 

Prayer to Take Thoughts Captive

God wants to be in a relationship with you. He wants to know what is affecting your heart and mind. He wants you to turn to Him so He can take on your burdens – trusting Him with it all. The Holy Spirit will help to intercede on our behalf. 

“Dear Lord, take control of my thoughts and help them to be pure before you. Help me to fix my eyes and my thoughts on Jesus. Forgive me for my thoughts that doubt your goodness and faithfulness. I want to have a positive mind that is filled with love for you. Help me to take my thoughts captive and think about whatever is pure, holy, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Lord, I pray that my thoughts will be captivated by you and allow your truth to have authority over my life. Let me believe you with my heart, mind, and soul. I cannot do it by myself but by your grace, I can change my thoughts. Only you can break the power of lies in my life. And, for that, I am forever grateful. Your word is truth and You are my refuge. Thank you, Lord, for your kindness and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

****All Bible Verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV)

8 thoughts on “How To Take Every Thought Captive”

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  6. During times like this negative thoughts can definitely creep in and rob us of the joy Christ wants us to experience. Journaling your thoughts, meditating on God’s word, and keeping our eye’s on Jesus are exactly what we need to do right now. We need to know what we are thinking and why. Are we afraid? Hurt? Distant from God? We really need to tune in when all we want to do is tune out and see what the top rated show on Netflix is right now. Good word, sister!

  7. Wonderful article! I can find myself in the same depreciating thought cycles. You give great ways to overcome this habit. It is true, the devil likes to use our thoughts against us, but God can overcome his tactics. Prayer and the word of God are my go to when my thoughts want to take a detour from the truth.

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