Arresting Evil at the Source
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. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
My addiction to opiate pain medications didn’t just start out one day with lying, stealing, and diverting pain medications for my own use. It took several years for it to grow to that level of depravity. When the disastrous consequences of my addiction eventually did come to fruition, I had to look back to how it all began years before – as simply a thought or an impulse in my mind.
In medical school I had a surgery after which I was exposed to opiates. I wasn’t addicted then. I just loved the feeling. I didn’t have any childhood trauma or mood disorder for which I needed to self-medicate. I’ve just always enjoyed immediate gratification and opiates represented pleasure in a pill. So, armed with that one experience, I went forward into medicine and once I gained access, an impulsive thought was born. I can get pills now. I like that feeling. I should do this. I knew it wasn’t healthy, but I did it anyway.
As I indulged in that thought, it flourished. Once it was just a tiny seed, but after watering and fertilizing it for years, it grew into the monstrous thing that came to control my life. Once I was addicted, it took radical, painful disruption to get sober. It would have been far less traumatic to arrest that first impulse, way back before it consumed my entire life.
This is the lesson for me in today’s passage. In it, Paul said that we must take every thought captive, making each one obedient to Christ. Yes, I’m sober, living in recovery, but I still have evil thoughts. Every day, I have angry, resentful, lustful, greedy, prideful impulses that pop into my head. If I indulge them, they grow. If, however, I arrest them at the inception, I prevent them from metastasizing. I’m not going to allow myself to dwell on this evil thought.
Sometimes it’s enough just to turn my mind from a thought but at other times, t’s not enough to just tell myself to stop thinking something. At those times, I must alter some behavior. No change is too radical though to avoid evil from growing in my mind. Paul used the language of warfare, which is no exaggeration. We are in a war in which our souls are at stake. Daily, I must do whatever it takes to turn my mind from evil and turn it towards God, who is the only adequate answer to that which I’ve been looking for all along.