"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Sometimes our imaginations take off on a tangent as if we had no control over them. When we were children, our imaginations may have been our best friends, especially if we were forced to spend a lot of time alone.
As adults, however, we should leave fantasyland in the hands of Mickey Mouse. We're not addressing creative imagination, the use of our thought processes to produce a solution to a need or a problem. That is healthy and necessary.
But there is another kind of imagination, and unless it is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, it inevitably produces death.
For example, we are in church, perhaps even in the middle of worship, and suddenly a thought enters our mind that is indecent enough to make us blush! Our first reaction is guilt. How could we possibly have such a thought while worshipping God! We have no right to call ourselves Christian! This is hypocrisy! If others knew what was going on in our mind, they would throw us out of church!
The disciple must know what really happened. We came to church to worship God. We are serious about that, we're not trying to impress anybody. But we forget (or perhaps some of us are unaware of) the verse quoted above that states, "for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war in the flesh". We may not realize we walked onto a battlefield, and the enemy attacked with one of his fiery darts.
Let's be realistic, we did not deliberately generate that thought. Obviously, it didn't come from God. Where did it come from? The answer is: it came from our enemy, the prince of the power of the air! His attack is successful if it forces us to take our minds off God and put our attention upon ourselves. It interrupts our worship, and worship is a form of spiritual warfare. Score one for the opposition.
What should we do when something such as that happens? The solution is always simple when God is involved. We turn to Jesus immediately, and say, "Jesus, did You see that thought?" Yes, He saw it. He knows our thoughts, and He knows where the thought originated. "I give this thought to You. Take it from me and consume it with your holy fire."
Jesus is our High Priest, so He has a consuming fire going all the time. The result is that we bring the thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. We then resume our worship, and a battle is won for God. Score one for the home team!
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:14,15)
The important thing is what we do with the thought. James tells us clearly what happens when we allow a carnal thought to incubate. If we entertain such a thought long enough, our imagination takes it and runs. In the meantime, Satan supplies plenty of thoughts to support our original thought, and it is only a matter of time until a conception takes place. That conception gives birth to sin. Sin always precedes death, because it separates us from God.
The principle of incubation makes pornography deadly. Repeated exposure to pornography eventually conceives rape, child molestation, perversions, anything an unbridled imagination can think of.
Advertisers have understood for years the value of incessant repetition. They thrive on incubation. They spend millions with the confidence that eventually sales will be birthed because they have caused conception to take place.
For this reason, we must be alert to what goes on in our minds. And we must bring our Lord into the picture when it appears that the flesh is about to take over. It is impossible to shock Jesus. He already knows everything anyway. He just waits patiently, and watches to see where our heart is.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Was my imagination positive or negative today?