“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).
Life transformation lies in the thought life. I know that now, but for a long time, my mind was filled with loud, toxic thoughts that taunted me daily. They told me I was a hopeless loser, a failure, and unwanted. And I believed them.
For years those thoughts ran wild and demanded my attention. I’m telling you, between my ears was one scary place. Sadly, I thought the noise was normal. No one had ever taught me about my true identity in Christ.
I tried to drown out the voices and the shame with drugs and other things. I was so desperate to silence the madness that I attempted suicide several times. Each time I failed, the chaos in my mind grew louder.
For three decades, I wrestled with anxiety and depression. I was a miserable person with a bipolar diagnosis and on a frustrating journey of psych prescriptions.
But then I encountered Jesus, and He set me free from my mental and emotional chaos.
I still remember the sudden calm in my mind as I bowed my heart to Him. It was how I’d imagine the stillness of the first morning after a long, violent war. For years, I’d been surrounded by chaos and fear and ruled by an evil enemy—and then, suddenly, I had peace and freedom. I could breathe in the fresh air and take in the beauty of the sunrise, the dew adorning the fields, the light fog hanging in the air.
Jesus had silenced the tormenting voices that spoke endless, demeaning words of hate and destruction. He had muzzled those mocking voices that called me names and outright lied to me about who I was. And in the stillness, I could hear the tender voice of my heavenly Father, telling me He loved me, approved of me, and wanted me. In the light of His truth, I knew I wasn’t a failure or a waste—I was enough.
Ironically, I found this freedom while I was locked up in jail. Jesus brought His light of truth and hope to that hopeless, terrifying place and shined it into the darkness of my mind. Who knew Jesus would hang out in places like that, ready and willing to free people?
That was six years ago, and I’m still being transformed into His image. It’s a journey that will continue until I meet my Savior face to face. It’s not an easy road. In fact, it often feels like a battle.
Satan knows he’s lost me for eternity, but he still attacks my mind by reminding me of my past and telling me what a failure I am. He seeks to destroy the image of God within me. But God’s Word and His Holy Spirit have taught me how to fight the war over toxic thoughts.
Romans 12:2 says we are transformed into new people by renewing our minds. Where we focus our thought life is critical for spiritual, emotional, and mental health. Scripture is saturated with this truth. It’s where we find what renews us.
There’s no way to get around it—if we want a new life, we have to change our thinking. The battle is won or lost in our minds.
We need a special weapon to win the battle—and that’s God’s truth. When we expose our thoughts to God’s truth, strongholds are blown up by His divine power. It’s like spiritual TNT.
Second Corinthians 10:3–5 tells us how we can have victory: “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” (NIV).
Let’s look closer at this passage. A stronghold is a fortress that holds something. It can protect us, or it can imprison us. Our thoughts can function as a prison, holding us captive, or they can be the place where we know we are safe and loved.
That’s why Satan does his best to distort our thinking through the negative comments of others and difficult circumstances. He brings whispers of shame and guilt. He wants words, experiences, and feelings to impact our inner dialogue, so we don’t realize our true identities as victors in Christ (Romans 8:37).
Paul teaches that if we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to God’s truth, then Satan loses the battle. I envision it as a game of Capture the Flag—we chase down our thoughts, capture them, and bring them to God’s territory.
Let me give you an example. Recently, someone shared how my past choices had deeply hurt them and the lingering pain that still impacted other areas of their life.
Knowing that I had hurt someone I love, that I had caused them problems, made me lose sight of God’s truth. Satan began telling his lies. “You’re a failure, Sheridan. All you do is hurt people. No one wants you in their life. You’ll never be good enough.”
For a day, I let those lies swirl around in my head, and I became confused about who I was. I went into protection mode. I shut down, withdrew from others, and became sullen and silent. When I did speak, my words were critical and negative and hurt those around me.
Finally, after nearly 24 hours, I came to my senses and realized I was being held captive by my thoughts. I was agreeing with Satan’s lies and rejecting God’s truth. It was like I was saying to Jesus, “No! You’re wrong about who I am. Your Word isn’t true.” Wow!
I had to decide—would I continue to agree with Satan and let his lies consume me, or would I apply 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 to my thought life and bring the battle to a victorious end? I chose the latter.
I took out a journal and began to write. I reminded myself that God does not give me a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). There was no way my fearful and confusing thoughts were from God.
Next, I wrote down each thought and analyzed it to see if it was a lie or the truth. For example, I penned, “I am rejected.” Then I searched the Bible and wrote down what God says: “I am accepted by Christ and belong to Him.” (See Ephesians 1:6.) Then I took the thoughts that didn’t line up with God’s truth and rejected them.
It wasn’t long before this exercise pulled me out of my stinkin’ thinkin’. God’s never-
changing truth always brings me to a place of freedom.
Of course, Satan has brought other attacks since then. He won’t stop until Jesus comes with perfection and eternal peace. But that’s okay, because I’m winning the war. With the Holy Spirit’s help, I more quickly recognize when I’m being attacked. And since I’m fighting with godly weapons, Satan’s strongholds don’t stand a chance.
You don’t have to live in mental torture. It’s time to silence that condemning internal dialogue. It is not from God.
Start analyzing the thoughts in your head. Ask, “What is the story I’m telling myself?” Break it down and determine if it is based on a lie or the truth.
The better you know God’s Word, the more quickly you’ll be able to recognize the truth. That comes through diving into God’s Word and applying it to your thought life every day.
It takes time, but it’s the best investment you can make for yourself. Truth holds the key to your freedom, and according to John 14:6, Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Get to know Him, and you’ll find everything you’ve ever needed or desired.
Satan won’t stop trying to defeat you. But as you continually capture the misbeliefs and make them obedient to Christ, you won’t be imprisoned anymore.
Stop calling yourself names like failure, dummy, stupid, idiot, and loser. Every time you do, it’s a slap in Truth’s face, and it impacts your life. Choose to no longer think of yourself as a sinner, prisoner, addict, or terrible person. You are a child of God.
Romans 6:16–18 teaches that we are enslaved to whatever we listen to and obey. If you believe and act on the lies of Satan, then you are his captive. Trust me; he is not a kind taskmaster.
But if you’ll submit your thoughts to God’s truth, you will find freedom (John 8:32), and you will experience God’s will for your life, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).
Sheridan Correa is a biblical counselor who is trained in trauma-informed care. She’s a wife, mother of two teenage boys, singer, and avid runner who has been radically changed by Jesus. She joined the Victorious Living family in 2022 as digital content manager.