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, 1978)
How is it possible to be surrounded by family and friends and yet still feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness? Or, at other times, why do we still feel guilt and shame after we have done everything within our power “to make things right,” and been forgiven by those we may have wronged? There are many who may not understand the concept of spiritual warfare, but most will certainly identify with those random thoughts of condemnation or depression that seem to come from nowhere at the most inconvenient times.
Though we may observe violence, injustice, and division in many different forms on any given day, Paul was establishing that the source of the conflict does not necessarily come from outside influences. When Jesus said, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10), He was not necessarily intending to paint a picture of a perpetrator carrying out a violent crime. No, our enemy knows that it only takes an improper thought in an unsuspecting moment to wreak havoc on what might have been an otherwise blessed life.
Take our students at Adult & Teen Challenge, for example. On the first day they arrive, we promise to keep them safe from the influences that have attempted to destroy them. However, we also warn them that their greatest enemy is already on campus and waiting for them. He’s silent and waiting for the opportunity to sow that memory of failure that will negate any special moment of breakthrough. Some of our guys and girls are actually afraid of success because their thoughts have convinced them that they were never intended to experience good things.
As surely as we are admonished to live lives that glorify God, we are also responsible to surrender our thoughts to the Lordship of Jesus Christ because we know the enemy can attack when we least expect it.