Prison[Editor’s note: Today’s post is excerpted from the book “Eyes of Integrity: The Porn Pandemic and How It Affects You” by Craig Gross and Jason Harper]

Nineteen hundred years ago Paul the Apostle wrote these simple words:

“Take captive every thought…” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Paul’s words are an encouragement to hold hostage every fleeting thought that may lead you away from Christ’s perfect plan. To arrest it.

The thoughts themselves aren’t bad. Paul knew this, which is why he tells us to take them captive, to dwell on the good ones, the ones that will lead us closer to Christ, and remove the bad ones, the ones that will lead us closer to sin. We’re going to have both kinds of thoughts–it’s what we do with them that counts. 

So why did Paul instruct us to put every thought in jail? Because he knew the battle of the mind was the root issue, the systemic cause, of all moral failures. The mind produces the flow of every action we take. The mind produces a thought; the thought develops into an action; the action, repeated over time, becomes a habit…

The problem is that, though we can choose whether or not to do the right thing, many times we don’t. Again, consider Paul. He looked out over the people of Rome, a pagan city ruled by tyranny, a place filled with every sexual perversion, and acknowledged his own frailties. Allow me to paraphrase Romans 7:18-19: “The very things I should run away from and have no part of are the things I embrace. And the things I should make a regular part of my life I ignore.”

Have you every felt that way? I have…

How can this be remedied? Is there hope? Is it possible to continue to choose the right road? Can we, as men, change? Is there a way to combat the feelings that failure is inevitable?

The answer, in all cases, is yes.

The most practical advice I’ve found in my years of working in this area is this: take the thought captive. And if you don’t take the first thought captive, take the next one captive. It’s never too late to put your thoughts in jail. Ever. Sometimes it feels like porn use is so all-consuming, so prevalent in our society, that there’s no way you can not use it. It feels inevitable, so you might as well cave.

But there’s always another chance to take a thought captive. Always.