3 Steps To Take Your Thoughts Captive And Renew Your Mind

There are three steps that can help you take your thought captive, renew your mind, and think about things that are true and lovely.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV

This morning I pulled out my Bible to read a chapter in Mark. As I opened it to the reading plan, I realized my mind was so active. Random thoughts swirled around in there. Many of them were not nice, not kind, not patient, not encouraging. Together they were causing me to feel terrible.

I knew I needed to stop thinking them. I knew I should take them captive but it felt so hard.

True or not true thoughts?

All of us have a human brain. Research shows that our mind can give us up to 80,000 thoughts each day. That’s not the problem. The problem is when we don’t manage it, redirect thoughts, filter them through the Word of God and let them run wild.

Our thoughts are either aligned with the Word of God, or they are not. They are toward Christ or away from Christ. They are full of truth or full of lies.

When we don’t take a thought captive, when we’re not intentional about what’s happening, we can live in these untrue thoughts for too long. These thoughts seep into our lives, our emotions, and our actions.

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV

One technique (three steps) that helps me take a thought (or thoughts) captive, is this:

1. Name the Thought

Awareness is key. Filter your thought through scripture. Is it true? Is it a lie? Once you notice the thought, name the thought’s source.

When I was first discipled, I remember a graphic with a picture of a chair in the middle of a heart. It was a reminder of the choice we make to put either ourselves or God on the chair. It is either “carnal man” or it is God.

I think of the thought as a “carnal man” thought. Or as the “old me” thought. Some people name the thought something like “Judge” or “Negative Nellie”

I say it aloud: “Oh, there is “carnal me” saying, ‘I always mess up.’

2. Notice God in the present moment.

The next step is to notice God right where you are. Clean your mind from the unuseful thought, and the feeling it produces, by coming into the present moment.

To do this you could…

  • Rub your fingers together noticing how intricately God made the ridges.
  • Notice the rising and falling of your chest with each breath. He thought of everything!
  • Label His creation you see around you (trees, my cat, the clouds).
  • Listen to the farthest sound and then the closest sound.

Noticing God and who He is in the present moment, will help you take the thought captive. He is ALL around you! He is IN you.

3. Invite God In and Renew Your Mind

Now that your mind is clear of the unuseful thought, invite God in. Turn TO Him.

It can be as easy as saying, “God I invite you in.”

You could also…

  • Meditate on a scripture verse you’ve memorized. Recite it aloud.
  • Pray.
  • Confess.
  • Claim a promise.
  • Turn praise music on and sing or say the words to a worship song.
  • Be still and listen.
  • Open your Bible.
  • List what you are grateful for.

These three steps will help you take your thought captive, renew your mind, and think on things that are true and lovely. Enjoy the benefits as you continue to practice moving from thoughts running free to thoughts honoring to God.

In His Word

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:1 NIV

In Your Life

What about you? Are you filtering your thoughts and taking them captive? Or letting them run wild?

This week, be encouraged. One thought at a time, name the thought, notice God in the present moment, and invite God in.

We Recommend

If you notice you have a lot of wild, unmanaged thoughts like worry, self-criticism, anger, etc, make your own thought sets.

Combine a few scriptures, a promise, and a song together and put them in a convenient place like the notes app on your phone. Here is a thought set for remembering who we are in Christ:

  • Psalm 139:14
  • Psalm 59:17
  • Romans 8:15-17
  • Galatians 4:4-7
  • This song. (I have believed these lies for the very last time.)

I am writing 1000 things I am thankful for this year using this devotional by Ann Voskamp. Gratitude is an immediate way to manage your thinking and renew your mind.

Let’s Connect

Tracy helps women simplify and organize their lives. If getting organized is on your list of things to do or you want to learn more practical tools to improve your life, connect with her through her website or on Instagram.