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Taking Every Thought Captive

From the series Get Out of Your Head

The Apostle Paul commands us to take every thought captive. But what does that look like in our fast-paced society where we're constantly bombarded by everything? In this message, Chip turns the mic over to guest teacher Jennie Allen for her series “Get Out of Your Head.” Don’t miss how we can guard our minds against toxic thoughts that threaten to destroy us.

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Message Transcript

I believe in the power of God to absolutely not just save our souls, but change our lives. I've seen Him do this for other people and I have seen Him do this in me. And I want to tell you a story about why this project “Get Out of Your Head” is so important to me.

I believe we are at war. I believe that the enemy is coming for us. And I'm sorry if you just clicked on this and you're like, what is this? What enemy? I am a Christian and I believe the Bible and the Bible is pretty clear that there is an enemy to God and there's an enemy to us. And his desire is to kill, steal, and destroy. And one of the main ways I'm watching him do that in our generation is through our minds.

In John 8 it talks about the enemy. And Jesus actually describes him and says he is the father of lies, that when he speaks he lies. And that is who he is. And so I have watched this person after person, after person has believed these lies and here's the thing, not even realize that they are lies. That's the hard part. Eventually you start to believe they're just true and you're dwelling on them and our minds are a mess.

Our minds are discouraged, our minds are distracted, our minds are exhausted and I believe there's a way out. In fact, so many of you struggle with anxiety and depression. So many of you struggle with mental illness or somebody that you know struggles with mental illness, and I want to address this right up front that mental illness can be a physical issue. It can be a chemical issue that that needs medicine and medicine is a gift from God and counseling as a gift from God.

But I also believe there's another component to this and I want to start by reading a few verses in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war against the flesh.” And I want to say this because I think some of us stopped at the obvious things. We stop at the physical response and we stop at the emotional response rather than realizing there is a, another thing happening and it is a spiritual war that is waging against us and it's not of flesh.

There was a season of attack, that came that was quiet, that was subtle, that what I barely noticed honestly. And it came every night at 3:00 AM and it was doubt that filled my mind and it beat me up for month upon month. And the bad part was, is I didn't even realize it was happening. I was at war with the devil in the night and I never said it out loud. I never told anybody what was happening for 18 months.
Now fast forward, I finally do mention it to people. And the second I did, my first thought was, Oh my gosh, I have been under spiritual attack. Duh. I mean it was obvious but I didn't see it because I was not guarding my mind because I did not live with this reality that the enemy could be lying to me at any minute, that at any minute he could be whispering a lie to me that I thought was true and that I walked in and believed in and built thought patterns, toxic spirals around and exactly what happened.

There was a cost and it was to my faith and what a great strategic move of the enemy to go after my faith, but everything shifted and I believe that every single one of you listening in some way, that enemy is as real to you and those lies are as real to you.

In the middle of this project. In fact, it was even before the project began. I was walking outside. It was a beautiful day and I was all by myself and I was praying for our generation. I do this, I pray for individuals, but I also pray for our generation. I always think about us getting to heaven together and I, I think about all the people I lead and the people, the church is leading right now around the world and I just want us to do so well in our time. I want our time to matter.

And as I was praying about our generation, God brought to mind these enemies that are attacking our generation uniquely. And I wrote them down.

I pulled over on the side of the track I was walking on and I typed them up and it was seven things that I saw coming for our generation. And we're going to talk about these seven things.

And I'm telling you, you know, it's everything from cynicism to noise to victimhood. There's a plethora of things coming for us. But I think in our generation we're looking at some unique things that have plagued our minds and that has robbed us of the effectiveness that we could have for the kingdom of God.

I'm going to give you a lot of science in this season because in my studies of the brain, you cannot deny the power of God and the thing he built in our minds, when you read the science of it. It all backs up the Bible. It's crazy. All of these truths that the Bible says like take every thought captive, that we have power over our thoughts, all of these truths, they are spelled out in science. It's true.
We can change our minds and I want to read you the rest of this verse in 2 Corinthians 10, “for the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” Guys, in these verses, the author of Corinthians who's Paul is saying, we have power to destroy strongholds. So many of you are stuck in strongholds. That's why this matters so much. It’s not because of the little bitty lie about your identity or about your worth.

It's because that lie over time adds up. And so back to the science part, 80% of our thoughts are negative. 95% of our thoughts. You thought them yesterday, they're repetitive. And so we're thinking repetitive, negative thoughts every day of our life. And guess what those build - strongholds! They actually change our brains. They change our chemistry - our physical brains change.

Now, yes, I believe in medicine and counseling and no, I do not think you can just change your thoughts and all of a sudden be out of mental illness. But I absolutely believe that in disciplining and training our thoughts that it can eventually over time change our minds. That's science, not just for those of us that believe in science, but those of us that believe in God. He says that our warfare is not of the flesh, it is of the spirit and that we have divine power to destroy strongholds.

So something about the power that God gives us. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, and if you don't, I hope by the end of this season you will. But something about knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the power of the gifts and the power and authority He's given us. We have the power to destroy strongholds.

Now authority, that is something that I didn't realize that I had most of my life. I was a victim to my mind and I didn't understand that God had given me authority over my thoughts and I could change them. And I'm telling you, let me fast forward to my story today and tell you that there are still, in fact, last night I woke up at 4:00 AM but let me tell you what I do now when I wake up, I do not let the enemy have an inch. I don't let him have a second of my mind.

I notice it now. I see when I start to spiral or think negative thoughts about God, about my life, and I interrupt it and I say no, like, and I mean y'all, I've gotten all charismatic in my bedroom. Like I'm waving my arms and like get out of here. Like I know what I'm up against and I'm clear about it and I speak with authority over it because of the power of God that I know is real and strong enough to destroy it and guys, I'm free like I wake up at 4:00 AM and I'm no longer under the bondage that I was under for 18 months. I am free and I believe you can be too.

Verse five, “we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised up against the knowledge of God.” That's what was happening. Lofty opinions were being raised up against the knowledge of God. And every lie that you have believed, every fear that you have had, every worry and anxiety that you have had. These are all opinions raised up against the knowledge of God because if our knowledge of God was full and complete, guess what? He's not a God of fear. We would never fear. Fear is not of God. It is of the devil and every lie that we give an inch, it will take a mile. It will take a mile. And for some of you, it has taken years. It has taken so much of your life.

Some of you, you're here, praying for hope and some of you are like teetering on that edge of, of giving up your faith. And I just want to say I'm here to fight for you, that there is an enemy and that he is fighting for you and I am here because God loves you. And because He also is fighting for you and that there are opinions raised up every day in our minds against the knowledge of God.

And our God says that we have the power to destroy them - to destroy strongholds.

Paul says next in that verse that opinions raised up against the knowledge of God, that we destroy them. And then he says this and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. That's how we change our minds.

Romans says it this way. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed” by - what? How do we change? All of us want to change. How do we change? And Roman says “by the renewal of our minds.” Guys, this is the crux of our lives. Our minds are the crux of how we will live, who we will love, what we will do with our lives, our minds hold the power and the key to our lives.

I remember my daughter did a lot of study. She wanted to be a neuro researcher and so she basically was all through high school and middle school. And then she would bring me all the stuff as part of what prompted me to do this project. And she said, “Mom, what we know about the brain today, the writers of the scriptures would have said the mind every time they said the heart.” So, that means that a majority of the Bible is about our minds, that every time it says heart, it also is talking about the seat of our emotions is found within our brains.

And so when you think about our minds and our hearts and how much of scripture is about it continually, it says, guard our heart, our mind. It says, take captive our thoughts that this is an active process. That we're not reluctantly thinking about whatever the heck we want, but we are actively fighting to believe truth, to fix our eyes on Jesus - the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

He sets before us this call to single-mindedness to complete consumption of God and His love for us and His goodness over us and as we fixate on Him, the things of this earth grow strangely dim. That's like the old hymn that you used to sing in Sunday school. This is how we change.

Verse six, “being ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete.” This is warfare and Paul knows it and that's why he writes that this is warfare and he speaks of things like destroying every lie, every opinion.

Y'all, we have to take this bull by its horn and we haven't. Candidly, we have not.

You bring your friends together because it's going to take an army of people surrounding each other and saying, we're not going to let each other believe these lies anymore, but we want to take this seriously. We've got to take this seriously.

I know some of you, you just tuned in and you're like guess what - fun and happy are on the other side of this. I'll tell you that right now, like I have never been more joyful. I've never been more free. I've never been more grateful. I've never been more peaceful than I have as I have done war with this part of my life.

Proverbs 23:7 says this, “for as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” Y’all, this is our lives. The sum of our lives will be rooted and what it is we think about, and we never think about our thoughts.

You think anywhere from 9,000 to 60,000 thoughts in a day, in a day. And when was the last time you even notice what it was that you were thinking about? So today I want you to do something. I want you to pull out a piece of paper and I want you to start writing down your thoughts and I'll tell you, we're going to take you through a process if you want to go download it right now, we have an Anxious Thoughts Guide. We're going to give you a mind map that you can fill out and start to notice your thoughts and you can print a bunch of copies and put them by your bed and just start to notice at night when you go to sleep.

What is it that I thought about today? Notice if it's around 80% negative because this matters, this matters. Our brains are physically changing depending on what we think about You think about what you're grateful for, your brain shifts. You think about what you dread, your brain shifts. And we can win this war. I believe it.

I believe we are looking at more freedom in our generation than we have previously had. And I believe that that can happen in our lives individually as we actually believe truth. And so I'm gonna fight for you to believe truth. And I cannot wait to see what God is going to do through this.

I do not want you to halfway engage with this. We need people to fight for us. We need to understand what it is to have these weapons that God says have the power to destroy strongholds. So we're going to war y'all. Come on.

Invite all your friends. I mean, you could gather in a living room. You can each get the book and you can listen to this. Almost like a Bible study. I hope that that's what this will feel like.

Invite your friends and let's see what God does.

I want to pray for you. God, I want to thank you for this community. I want to thank you for a microphone. It feels like an honor. It feels like a sacred, incredible honor that I get to be in their ears, in their minds right now, and that I get to fight for them to believe truth that I do not take that lightly. I believe that this matters more than we can understand more than I can understand and I feel your love for them. God, I feel that that you want them to live more free than they are right now. And I believe God that almost all of them are have been believing some lie. They've been believing some lie that has crippled them, that has made them afraid, that has made them anxious, that has made them depressed and I believe God, You want to set them free.

And so today, God, I pray, I want to pray huge prayers, but I also wanna pray small prayers. I want to pray that they'll have a glimmer of hope. I want to pray that that hope would be real and realized and the big prayer I want to pray is that you would set them free, that they would have their eyes opened and they would see in a new way the enemy and what he wants for them and that they would have nothing to do with it. They would go to war, they would fight better than they ever have in Jesus name. Amen.