"Casting Down Imaginations"

by M. H. Reynolds, Jr.

“CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS.” How filled with meaning and importance are these vivid words of Scripture found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 where we read, “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 strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

WHAT ARE “IMAGINATIONS”? WHY MUST THEY BE “CAST DOWN”?

DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS OF “IMAGINATIONS” include the following: “To form a mental image, as of something not actually present to the senses; to assume, suppose, conjecture or guess; a conception or mental creation, sometimes a baseless or fanciful one.” A scriptural exegesis of the word supports these definitions and gives repeated warnings about the dire consequences that ensue whenever men substitute their own thoughts (imaginations) for God’s thoughts as revealed in His Holy Word, the Bible.

WOULD ANYONE DARE TO SUBSTITUTE HIS OWN THOUGHTS FOR GOD’S?

Incredibly and unfortunately, both saved and unsaved do this very thing over and over again, sometimes without even realizing that this is what they are actually doing. It is so easy to substitute, “This is what I think” rather than “This is what God says.” Millions of lost souls are on their way to hell because they exalt their own thoughts above God’s thoughts. Many of God’s children will suffer loss of reward and have become stumblingblocks to others because they have substituted their thoughts for God’s thoughts. What a tragedy!

DARE WE TRUST OUR OWN THOUGHTS REGARDING SALVATION, FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND ETERNAL LIFE? Through the years we have heard so many people say, “Well, I think if a person is sincere in what he or she believes, everything will turn out alright.” Others say, “I think God is too good to send anyone to hell.” Many simply say, “I have my own religion.” Many there are who “think” that salvation may be obtained by good works, church membership, baptism, “doing your best,” “following the Golden Rule,” giving to the poor, or participating in various religious rites and rituals. But all of these provide only a false hope, for God says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). God’s Word declares, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

THE VERY FIRST USE OF THE WORD “IMAGINATION” IN THE BIBLE is found in Genesis 6:5, where we read: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that EVERY IMAGINATION of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Man had exalted his thoughts above God’s thoughts which, in turn, produced “evil imaginations continually.” This, in turn, led to sins so awful that God’s judgment fell and the world was destroyed by flood in the days of Noah. As we see the same situation being repeated in our day, dare we ignore the words of the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man”? (Luke 17:26).

CAN ANYONE DOUBT THAT OUR DAYS ARE LIKE THE DAYS OF NOAH? Are not the imaginations of men’s hearts only evil continually? Is there any cure for the heinous sins that happen with increasing frequency—sins so bizarre and inhuman as to shock the sensibilities of civilized peoples who often exclaim, “I just can’t believe what is happening today”? Is there any cure for the moral degredation which has now so permeated every level of society that it springs up in all age groups, every area of the country and the world and every strata of social, economic, political, and religious groupings?

YES, THERE IS ONE SURE CURE— BUT ONLY ONE! Jesus Christ said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:3). This is the work of the Holy Spirit who brings conviction of sin and conversion to Christ through the preaching of the Gospel. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3: 36). God says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). This is indeed Good News for the whole world.

WILL WE BELIEVE GOD OR DEPEND ON OUR OWN THOUGHTS— OUR OWN “IMAGINATIONS”? God says plainly, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9). If we believe in a God at all, such a principle should be self-evident. If this is true, and it is, then why is it so difficult for us to pay attention to what God says and set our own thoughts aside? The answer to this question takes us back to our text. We cannot win this conflict by means of earthly, carnal, human endeavors. Man’s imaginations must continually be cast down, but this cannot be accomplished by and through the flesh. Only by the use of spiritual weapons can every thought be brought into captivity “to the obedience of Christ” and this applies not only to the unsaved but to believers as well.

“CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS.” “BRINGING EVERY THOUGHT INTO CAPTIVITY TO THE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST.” How necessary this is in the heart and life of every believer. Yet, when we see and hear what is going on in many of the churches of our land; and when the radio and TV programs together with statements and articles coming from the lips and pens of the most popular and influential “Christian leaders” in our day make it crystal clear that “church growth” and “success” in the eyes of men has replaced absolute fidelity to the Word of God, the call for a return to the simple, pure, powerful weapons of the Spirit is essential.

BECAUSE OF THE INCREASING OUTREACH OF OUR MINISTRY through Foundation Magazine, “What Does the Bible Say?” broadcasts, literature, etc., God has brought us into contact with many like-minded believers around the world—believers who refuse to bow the knee to Baal—those who will not go along with the crowd. It has been a great blessing and encouragement to us to hear from and correspond with an increasing number of others of like precious faith. We thank God that a small but increasing number of believers are developing spiritual discernment to such an extent that they have decided they will no longer follow and support those leaders who glorify the psychological approach and depend upon every trick of modern advertising and salesmanship to broaden their sphere of influence and increase their prestige and following. We are thankful that God always maintains and sustains His faithful remnant in every generation.

AS BIBLICAL FUNDAMENTALISTS, WE MUST OURSELVES BE ON GUARD against the mounting pressures designed to bring us to the place where we would exalt our own thoughts—our imaginations—in place of God’s thoughts, God’s ways. Thank God, we have been given grace and power to exalt His thoughts regarding salvation. Unlike compromising brethren, we can and should rejoice in the powerful weapons of the Spirit through which we have obtained the victory over the temptation to seek worldly goals through the use of worldly means. But Satan has his special darts reserved for God’s faithful children, and we must be quick to recognize these clever attacks for what they are—attempts to get us to exalt our own thoughts rather than “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

IS THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL WORKING ON YOU RIGHT NOW? Because we are a very small minority, do we feel sorry for ourselves instead of rejoicing in the privilege of being part of Christ’s “little flock”? Because the majority of our own brothers and sisters in Christ are moving in the direction of the world, ignoring the Word, do we think or even say, “Well, maybe there’s something wrong with me. Maybe I am too strict, too narrow as my friends claim”? Because visible “results” seem so small in comparison to those who have adopted new philosophies, new methods, do we feel like giving up? Do we say, “What’s the use?” rather than claiming God’s promises that His Word will not return void? Are we looking for the approval and praise of men (even though we deny it) or is our goal to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”? Let’s recognize that all such thinking is vain “imagination.” Let’s recognize that such “imagination” represents man’s thoughts, man’s ways—not God’s. Our marching orders are clearly set forth in God’s Holy Word and they have not changed one iota.

RATHER THAN BEING APOLOGETIC about our obvious weaknesses numerically, financially and in the eyes of the world, let us appreciate anew the wonderful privilege of being “Servants of the Most High God.” Let us thank God that He has given us the all-powerful spiritual weapons to use in the battle rather than the carnal, fleshly weapons which are mass-produced by those in the world. Let us be thankful that, by His enabling grace, we are following His ways rather than the ways of men, even if it means a lonely walk. Let us stay by the Word of God, measuring all things only by God’s standards. Let us do more praying, more studying of the Word that we may know God’s thoughts. Let us walk in the Spirit that we may think God’s thoughts and go in God’s ways. Let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds by complete yieldness to the Holy Spirit so that we may not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1, 2). Let us put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and claim the victory in Christ, being assured that our labor is not in vain in the Lord, no matter what men may say or think, even our own brethren (1 Corinthians 15:57, 58). MAY GOD HELP US TO BRING EVERY THOUGHT INTO CAPTIVITY TO CHRIST!