In one of Tom Clancy’s novels, Debt of Honor, Japan goes to war against the United States. In the conflict, a 747 pilot with Japan Airlines is mentally traumatized by the death of his son and brother during the conflict. On a flight into Washington D.C., he flies his jetliner into the Capitol Building during a joint session of Congress. The crash kills the President, most of the Congressional body, members of the Supreme Court, and many high government officials. I remember reading the book a couple of years before 9/11 and wondered then why someone had not yet initiated such an attack. The similarities between fiction and historic fact are chilling.
Evil is considered before it is executed. This took place in the mental reasoning of the fictional airline pilot in Clancy’s book. It also happens in real life. Wrong thinking is inserted into our mind and unless challenged, it will eventually bear evil fruit. Not all thoughts are innocent. Some are masking a dark intent that at first seems innocent and justifiable with no need to discern the content. That is why we are instructed in Scripture to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5). Thought and imagination always precede action, for either the good or for evil.
A friend of mine who pastored one of the largest churches in America once told me, “I have to stay close to the Lord every minute of every day. I am only a couple of weeks away from making horrible decisions if I don’t take control of my thoughts.” I was younger then and was a bit taken back by my friend’s honesty, but he was right. No one is immune from the sad and sorrow-filled destinations of a thought life that is undisciplined.
Taking our thoughts captive means interrupting a developing mental narrative and steering our thinking towards either an act of repentance or Spirit-inspired clarity of what is really taking place in our mind. If we do not investigate these thoughts, our lives will eventually crash at some point inflicting damage on innocent people who were unaware of our lack of discipline regarding our emotional, mental and spiritual health.