How do we take every thought captive?


Hello Mr. Hamilton,

It’s me again. I hope you have been doing well, and thank you by the way for your previous response.

There’s a question that’s been on my mind for a while now that I’d like to ask. Does the idea of “taking every thought captive to God”, or “thinking upon things that are pure, lovely, and of good report” mean that we have to morally dissect every thought, feeling, or idea that we have or have ever had before?

For example, say that I have been a passionate fan of a certain art form for a long time, but then I begin examining the thoughts or feelings that led me to initially react to it in a positive way and I have been questioning if they were morally right or sinful. If I had found or felt that they were the latter, would that mean that my interest in said art form would not be justified and that I should no longer admire it?

I apologize if you find this confusing in any way, but it’s an honest concern that I have. Am I just overanalyzing the way that my mind works, or is this something that I really do need to be conscious of?

Thank you for your time


"Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete" (II Corinthians 10:1-6).

Paul was not talking about personal thoughts but dealing with the ideas of false teachers.

In person, Paul's meekness and gentleness are very apparent. When writing his strength of character comes through. Apparently, his detractors are charging that Paul is afraid to rebuke people to their faces and must resort to indirect means to attack those who oppose him. Paul states at the beginning that his preference is to come again in meekness. He doesn’t want to have to come in strength, though he will be reproving those who deserve rebuking. These detractors might think otherwise, but that is because they are thinking of Paul acting like other men. Paul isn’t motivated as worldly people are motivated.

Paul lives in the world, but he doesn’t use worldly tactics. He is engaged in a war for the hearts and minds of people (I Timothy 1:18; II Timothy 2:3-4; Ephesians 6:10-17). This war is not fought with physical weapons, but they are still mighty weapons (Jeremiah 1:10; Proverbs 21:22). They are the weapons of wisdom and reason (II Corinthians 6:7; Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is able to pull down the strong walls people set around their hearts, to cast down their arguments and their pride, and bring them into captivity to Christ (Psalms 18:27; Romans 6:17-18; I Corinthians 1:19; 3:19). Paul is ready to wield his weaponry for the punishment of the disobedient while it at the same time brings the Corinthians into obedience (II Corinthians 2:9; 13:2,10).

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:6-10).

Here Paul is talking about how to deal with anxiety. FIrst, he recommends that you pray about the things that are troubling you and give your anxiety over to God. Second, trust that God will take care of you, so you can be at peace. And finally, instead of focusing on problems, focus on good things.

Notice that this is the opposite of dissecting every thought to see if there are hidden flaws somewhere.

Whether a piece of art is moral or not depends on whether what is being depicted is moral or not. Since I don't know what is being depicted, I can't answer your question. Morality is not about whether you feel something is right or wrong. It is comparing a concept to God's teaching determining whether it is right or wrong based on God's standard.


Ok sir, and thank you very much for clearing that up. I guess I was just wondering if examining our own thoughts in that manner is something that we are actually required to do as Christians.


The closest you'll find is: "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?" (II Corinthians 13:5). Here the point is not examining every thought, but looking at your life and behaviors to see if you are living up to what God requires of Christians.

What you are trying to do is impose perfection upon yourself, but no one is perfect (I John 1:8-10). All of us are tempted by sin, which means thoughts of sinning will occasionally cross our minds. Christians are to reject what is being off by temptations.

Feelings do not indicate whether something is moral or not. Feelings often change and are often misleading (Proverbs 28:26). Instead you compare your choices to what God teaches and try to align your choices to match what God wants of you.


Gotcha. Again, thank you very much for your assistance, sir. I appreciate it.

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