I am reading a book by Derek Prince called War in Heaven and in the early chapters he is making the case that we are a people at war within the spiritual realm. Did you know that the Hebrew word for "hosts" which is "tsaba" has as its primary definition "that which goes forth, army, war, warfare, host" or "a mass of persons (or figuratively, things), especially reg. organized for war (an army)". Thus, when the Bible calls Him the "LORD (or GOD) of hosts," which Derek says it does over a hundred times, it is saying He is the LORD or GOD of armies. As Derek said, when a country goes to war its citizens are automatically at war, the individuals do not need to make that individual decision. Thus, because our "government" and our "country" (God and Heaven) are at war, we, as its citizens, are also whether we like it or recognize it or not—and the Bible identifies our enemy as the "...rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12).
In making his case Derek uses a multitude of warfare scriptures, one being the following passage (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) which says: For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . .
As I read that passage I was struck by something I had never really seen or thought of before, but which really adds an important piece to my June 30, 2009 post on "cages" or taking thoughts captive. In that post (and that two that followed it in early July) I talked about the essential need to take our thoughts captive, and the "cages" which I constrain my thoughts to. As I read the Corinthians passage above suddenly I saw the word "captive" in the verse "...and take every thought captive to obey Christ..." in a way I hadn't seen it before. I don't know if I can explain clearly the difference, but I'll try.
In the past I have seen the passage there to simply be that I take my thoughts and I make sure that they are consistent with God's Word or Promises, His character, and His testimony (see the June post). That still holds true, but I saw a dimension to the word "captive" that I hadn't seen before. I saw it as it truly is, an unwilling prisoner. I need to take my thoughts captive so that they obey Christ—but they aren't going to go easily or willingly. They are going to fight me the whole way and if I don't keep vigilant guard over them they will disobey or sabotage or even escape and wound me at the first chance they get.
When I was at West Point I spent one summer in a school where it trained us to evade behind enemy lines and, if captured, how to resist. It included being incarcerated in a mock Prisoner of War camp where an enemy tried to break you and you tried to resist. The next summer I went back to the same school—this time as an instructor . . . an interrogator to be specific (see my photo from then above). My job was to get as much information as I could from the prisoners. I can tell you that a prisoner will do all they can to resist, deceive, and if possible escape and wound you. As the "capturer" it requires constant vigilance and rest and warfare to keep them prisoner and obedient.
What this showed me, as it clicked for me last night, was that taking my thoughts captive to obey Christ is part of my warfare, and it suddenly made sense why it is so hard to take them captive and to keep them captive. I am in a war and there is a very real enemy trying to stir up my thoughts to rebellion and escape. I must TAKE them captive, MAKE them prisoners, and MAKE them obey Christ—and then, doing so, I must be vigilant to keep them there as they fight me, seek to resist and deceive me, and ultimately try to escape. It is, truly, a living, active, dynamic battle to keep my thoughts in captivity and obedience to Christ—making sure that all that I think and believe and expect is consistent with my Lord and His character and His heart and His Word. It is not a game. It is war. And the cost of dropping our guard in a war can be deadly. The lion paces about, looking for the one who has dropped their vigilance and given him a slight opportunity or advantage.