Tag Archives: freedom in Christ

Recapturing Our Thoughts

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)

Where is your mind leading you?  Most biblical teachers and preachers will agree that the battle for our faith begins with the mind.  It is here that Satan, the world, and our flesh continually attempt to exercise their influence and ultimately control. In our scripture today, the Apostle Paul advises believers in Corinth to bring into obedience and compliance every thought that is not in agreement with God’s plan and purpose for their life.  His teaching is relevant for us today.  How are our thoughts taken captive?

Satan invades our thoughts by planting seeds of doubt which left unchallenged or unchecked, will lead to disbelief and ultimately, disobedience.  Remember Eve?  “Did God really say that you couldn’t eat that apple?” (My paraphrase of Genesis 3:4)   What began as doubt soon became disbelief.  The result was disobedience, shame and regret.  Sound familiar?

The world pervades our thoughts by convincing us to conform to its life styles and beliefs. Paul warned the church at Rome not to be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:2).  The world’s beliefs are characterized by the lust of the eyes—“I want what I see”; the lust of the flesh—“I live how I feel”; and the pride of life—“I value only what’s important to me” (1 John 2:16). The result is vanity and emptiness.

Lastly, our flesh persuades us by appealing to our physical and emotional desires.  Our flesh tempt us with words of deception—“If it feels good, do it.”  “You only go this way once, live life to the fullest.”  “You deserve whatever you want.”  Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen. 3:6).  Her flesh deceived her. The result was the introduction of spiritual and physical death, expulsion from Paradise, and alienation from God.

Bringing every thought captive to the obedience of God requires that we:

  • Accept our identity in Christ.  We are no longer obligated to follow the dictates of Satan, the world, and our flesh.  We have been set free by the blood of Christ and are no longer slaves to unrighteousness (Romans 6:12-14).
  • Believe the truth of God.  It is the truth of God that exposes the darkness of sin and its influence in our lives.  It is knowledge of this truth, in Him, that keeps Satan, the world, and our flesh at bay. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
  • Commit to the lordship of ChristOur obedience is not based on fear of punishment when we sin.  Our obedience is our gift to the Lord.  We give it in gratitude for His gift of eternal life to us (John 3:16).  We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Let us daily use the powerful weapons God has provided for us to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  These weapons are not human but mighty in God.  God’s weapons are dunatos (doo-nat-os)—powerful and capable.

SELAH:  The New James Version of today’s text reads as follows:

“Casting down arguments (logismos) and every high thing (hyposoma) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

Logismos is reasoning or thought that might be hostile to the Christian faith.  Hyposoma in Greek is an elevated barrier.   Meditate on this scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any “arguments or high thing” in your life that may be keeping you from God’s best.  Share what you hear with us in “Comments.”

Freedom in Christ: Let Go the EGO

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6 (NKJ)

“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13

 

As Resurrection Sunday rapidly approaches, we focus on the final area of our Lenten season “Journey of the Cross” with understanding our “Freedom in Christ.”  Probably the most difficult part of this teaching will be our willingness to “let go.”  Letting go requires releasing those things that cause us to be independent of God and operate outside the will of God.  Letting go necessitates that we pray often, wait expectantly, and trust unequivocally.   When we “let go and let God”, the results are always more than we can accomplish in our own power (1 Cor. 2:9).  Much of the difficulty in “letting go,” often times, lie in our inability to “let go of our ego.”

Ego, in this case, is not an exaggerated sense of self-importance but the use of “fleshly” knowledge and “human” effort to accomplish God’s purpose. This is often the case with believers who endeavor to live righteous and holy lives in their own power.  Some people attempt to do this by “works”—they visit the sick, feed the hungry, and do all the things they think will please the Lord.  Others become “masters of the spiritual disciplines”—they read their Bible every day, fast and pray, and tithe their ten percent.  Regardless of their approach, they often “miss the mark” as they use their fleshly methods to create spiritual outcomes.  This was true of Paul, as he attempted to live holy by operating out of his flesh.

I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate.  I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good.  But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things.   I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.   When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.  But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it.  It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  Romans 7:15-21

Interestingly the pronoun “I”, in the passage above, in Greek is translated “ego.”  Paul’s failure was not due to lack of works or poor self-discipline; nor was it the result of a poor attitude or “stinking thinking.”   There were two culprits responsible for his struggle.  The first was his ego—Paul attempted to handle sin in his own strength.  His best efforts only resulted in frustration.  The second perpetrator was “indwelling sin”—the unwanted tenacity of sin left in Paul’s unregenerate flesh (Gal.5:17).  What was the best solution for Paul’s dilemma?   “Let go the ego!”  Paul’s struggle ended when he let go and turned to the power within, God the Spirit (Rom. 7:24-25).

As believers, we will be frequently faced with the struggle of sin.  While Christ has delivered us from the penalty of sin (justification) and the power of sin (sanctification), we are yet awaiting to be fully delivered from the presence of sin (glorification).  Sin’s presence will be experienced as long as we live in this fallen world and reside in unregenerate flesh.  How then are we to live victoriously?  Let go the ego and let God!

RESPOND:

This week’s response activity will focus on your experience with Christian contemplation. Christian contemplation are those activities that “create emotional and spiritual space” for intimacy with God.  The intent of contemplation is “fixing our eye on God”–His Word, His way, or His works. It has been my prayer that in practicing these disciplines of contemplation, you have begun to deepen your experience with God.

During our “Journey of the Cross” we have practiced several types of contemplation–reflective Bible reading, reflective prayer, journaling, solitude, and reflections. This week your assignment is to journal about the one (1) contemplative discipline you felt most comfortable in practicing. As you journal, answer these four (4) reflective questions:

  1. Did you experience God in this discipline? If not, then why not.
  2. What did you learn about God? The Father, the Son, and/or the Holy Ghost specifically.
  3. What did you learn about yourself? Your fears, your faith, your purpose.
  4. How will your life change as a result of experiencing God?

Take time responding to these questions-reflection and meditation is part of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:2; Phil. 4:8). There are no right or wrong answers. Next week, we will provide an opportunity for you to share your experiences on your “Journey of the Cross.”