2 Corinthians 10:5
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…
A sceptic once said to me, "Why, Christianity actually wants the control of your very thoughts. Who could really conform to a system like that"? My rejoinder was, that a man's thoughts were his very life, and that a religion which is going to do anything for a man must work upon his thoughts and endeavour to lift them, by giving him both a law and an ideal of thinking. This is one of the glories of Christianity. In paganism you have religious observances divorced from morality — a cult which panders to a man's lowest passions. And even in Christendom, amongst communions which have more or less lost touch of the Bible and Christ, the problem is how to satisfy the religious instincts of men without troubling them to move out of their present level of thought and practice. The purpose of New Testament religion is the subjection of every thought to the obedience of Christ. Is that too great a programme? It is a difficult one, certainly. Study the development of character in a man who, from practical paganism, has been brought under the power of gospel like Bunyan. First, there was the outward act of submitting himself to Christ. Next follows a reformation of outward conduct. But the greatest conquest comes later. For a long time the trouble was that the thoughts, the grooves of which had been cut in the old dissolute days, could break loose and revel like devils in the chambers of his brain. And it required many a period of wrestling and much powerful work of the Divine Spirit before that great realm of life was fully in the Master's hands.
I. "EVERY THOUGHT" IS A PHRASE WHICH COVERS PRETTY NEARLY THE WHOLE INNER LIFE OF MAN. Philosophical analyses of man's mind usually divide it into thought, feeling, volition; but, as a matter of fact, these are all mixed up and act together. You love a person; but the feeling is full of thought. On the other hand, thought is full of feeling. The feeling of gladness or hope produces thoughts of one sort, the feeling of gloom those of an opposite. And when you come to volition or will, you find thought and feeling combined in its every act. And Christ will aim at nothing less than that the whole inner life be subjected to Him. Now what is meant here is simply that all our thinkings be after the pattern of God's own mind. The ultimate triumph of the gospel is that we shall love to find out what His thoughts are, to interpret them, to enjoy them, to obey them.
II. ONLY AS THE WORLD'S THOUGHT IS BROUGHT THOROUGHLY INTO THIS SUBJECTION CAN IT HOPE TO GET THE BEST OR SOAR TO THE HIGHEST.
1. What is a true musician, e.g.? Surely one who in that department is obedient to the thought of God. He is simply an interpreter of God's laws of harmony. True, some of the great musicians have not been noted as religious men; but inasmuch as they were great in music, it was so by the strictness of their obedience to God's mind in that one department of it.
2. What of the interests of truth, of scientific investigation? Will the world be shut up to narrow ideas? Why, do we not see that everything that can be found out by investigation, in the heavens above or on the earth beneath, is already true in the mind of God? Every new advance here is simply getting at another of God's thoughts. Obedience stopping inquiry? Why, it is a call to inquiry. For we need to know more that we may more perfectly obey.
III. THIS NEEDS PUSHING HOME TO EACH ONE OF US. We can never get the best out of life till we have all our thoughts brought into obedience to the Christ of God. Imagine a man regulated by this principle. All his thinkings are, as it were, coloured by the consciousness of God's presence. Each thought floats in this as in an atmosphere.
1. It is only so that a man comes to understand what faith is and what it can do for him. The secret of the business is in realising that you have not to strain to get yourself into a state of higher exaltation of spirit to find Him, but to feel that He is just here where you are, working in and through your life each moment. When you lift anything and then let it fall, there is gravitation, you say. Yes; it is God at work. When you look at a tree coming into bud, the charm of it is in seeing God, your Great Companion, at work in it. No one else could do this. Yes. He is here as much as anywhere in the universe — here in all His wisdom, power, and love.
2. I have spoken of our thoughts as floating in an atmosphere, and as coloured by that. Just as in a landscape the rocks, woods, water, which yesterday looked black, frowning, almost repulsive, to-day, by their sunny brightness woo and fascinate you, and that simply by a change in the atmospheric conditions; so with persons and your thoughts about them. Now, when the mind is won to the obedience of Christ, the atmosphere in which our thoughts float is the atmosphere of His love. Ah, how differently do our fellow-men present themselves to us when seen through that light! Here, e.g., is one person looked at by three different pairs of eyes. It is that poor fallen woman who crouches at the feet of Christ. Yonder is a man, brutal and sensual, and his thoughts are only of the animal, of sensuous gratification. There is another looking on, a hard, flinty Pharisee, who sniffs here nothing but human carrion, and who goes away thinking how virtuous he is, and how wicked some people are. But there is Christ. We know something of what His thoughts were. Now if I come into obedience to the mind of Christ, I shall have just such thoughts as His about such an one. I should see her and pray to God for her salvation.
(J. Brierley, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;