It would be wrongheaded if a coach relied only on drawing X’s and O’s on a whiteboard for his team without ever running plays and scrimmages in practices that hone the players’ ability to be successful in an actual game situation. When it comes to the Christian life, it isn’t enough to listen to hundreds of sermons and amass only knowledge. Jesus said that we shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free (John 8:32). The Lord Christ was not simply referring to being familiar with the X’s and O’s of life, but practicing the freedom we have through taking charge of our thoughts, emotions, and body.
We are to take the promises of God given to us as believers in Jesus and purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1). Christians have an entire array of spiritual weapons to use in the goal of personal and corporate holiness. Those weapons have divine power to demolish the strongholds of needless arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We have the ability as Christ’s followers to take captive every single thought and make it obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). We are to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). We must bring our bodies into subjection to what is most important to God so that our lives are not disqualified by bad behavior (1 Corinthians 9:27).
The believer in Jesus has the ability to take charge of his/her thinking, emotional state, bodily desires, and daily life; therefore, we must do so. It is important to recognize that we are not always responsible for the presence of a thought, emotion, or desire that pops up; but we certainly do have an obligation to reject all that is wrong in those areas. In other words, to accept and act on a wrong thought or behavior is sinful.
We are to take charge of our thinking. The sinful nature of a person, the sinful world system, and demonic suggestions or accusations must be identified and rejected. Our hearts are desperately wicked apart from God, and it is from the heart that evil thoughts proceed (Mark 7:21-22). Everything that is in the world – our sinful cravings, lustful thoughts, and arrogant boasting – does not come from God but from a world under the dominion of the devil (1 John 2:16). In the same way, temptation to evil thoughts and actions does not come from God but from the tempter of our souls (Genesis 3:1-5; Matthew 4:3; Revelation 12:9-11).
We take charge of our thinking by refusing those thoughts that are wrong and aggressively choosing to think on correct thoughts. We do this by putting off the old ways of speaking and acting, like lying or stealing, and putting on faith and love (Ephesians 4:25; 1 Thessalonians 5:8). It is a good thing to actually speak out loud and say: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I take charge of my thinking. I refuse to accept the thought of __________. In full dependence on the true and living God I bring all my thinking into subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are to take charge of our emotions. It is just as wrong to accept a wrong emotion (such as hopelessness) and to act on it as it would be to accept a wrong bodily desire and act on it. The believer has no reason to be hopeless and ought not accept and practice error. We must reject all emotions that come from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Instead, we are to accept the truth of having hope overflow in our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Then, we are to carefully practice it, over and over again, by faith.
We are to take charge of our bodies. We are to have spiritual control of how we handle our bodies. Because Jesus died to sin once for all, we are to count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ. So, we are not to let sin call the shots in our mortal bodies so that we obey our sinful desires. Instead, we are to offer the parts of our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:10-13).
Here’s the deal: Christ has delivered us from sin through his death on a cross; we are, therefore, to live into this deliverance through our practice of the truth. We must be aggressive, choose to deny ourselves, and take charge of our lives so that we may glorify him. It is time to avail ourselves of the grace that has been given us. Victory comes through practice using the spiritual tools available to us in the context of community. Therefore, the church is not optional equipment but absolutely vital to living a successful Christian life. So, let’s get into the game because we have submitted ourselves to the continual practice of taking charge of our minds, emotions, and desires. Soli Deo Gloria.