One uncaptured thought can ruin your life, marriage, business, or ministry. It’s not a sin to have an evil thought. Still, in the battleground of our mind, the devil’s weapons are fiery thoughts, and those thoughts become a problem when we allow them to become words and actions.
For although we live in the natural realm, we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons, using manipulation to achieve our aims. Instead, our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defenses behind which people hide. We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One. Since we are armed with such dynamic weaponry, we stand ready to punish any trace of rebellion, as soon as you choose complete obedience. (2 Cor. 10:3-6 The Passion Translation)
We are in a cultural war where the thoughts of unredeemed man, fueled by the power of the devil, are trying root out God and His ways. The further a person is removed from God, the greater the deception they will live in, and the more they will celebrate that deception as truth. People get stranger and stranger as they move away from God. The more the culture moves away from God, the higher the pressure to conform will be exerted on our lives. In our battle, a strategic weapon the devil uses is peer pressure to conform to the culture around us. The cultures of the world control people through pressure to fit in, to be liked, to be loved, to succeed. The word pressure is about squeezing, oppressing, squishing like an olive. Everyone is in a position where pressure is crushing them as if it were a boulder. Stress kills people that don’t know how to deal with it.
Jesus wants us to have peace amid the pressure. Peace is a heritage of being His children. Peace is the standard setting of the kingdom. In the world, we have stress. But Jesus has overcome it. When we resist the weight of culture, refusing to conform, we become an outsider, stranger, or enemy. We do not think or act like them. We walk in the light while the world walks in the dark. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
We can live above the pressure to conform. We can live differently. In Isaiah 32, God gives us a picture of what we can become as sons and daughters of God:
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
And princes will rule with justice.
A man will be as a hiding place from the wind,
And a cover from the tempest,
As rivers of water in a dry place,
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land
As people of God, we can be hiding places for those facing great storms. We can be a cover from a deadly life situation. Our lives can be a source of living in a desolate place and a place of great peace in a time when so many are worn out by the culture’s endless pursuit of the next great thing. As a result of following our king, we can be safe places, covers, sources of life for people in great danger. And look at the results:
The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.
Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge,
And the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.
The foolish person will no longer be called generous,
Nor the miser said to be bountiful;
For the foolish person will speak foolishness,
And his heart will work iniquity:
To practice ungodliness,
To utter error against the Lord,
To keep the hungry unsatisfied,
And he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
Also the schemes of the schemer are evil;
He devises wicked plans
To destroy the poor with lying words,
Even when the needy speaks justice.
But a generous man devises generous things,
And by generosity he shall stand (Isaiah 32:3-8).