"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Romans 12:1-3).
Of all the parts of the body, the mind is the most important. Paul points it out as the focus for the renewal of the whole man. If our thoughts cannot be under the control of the Holy Spirit, how can we expect the rest of our body to be at God's disposal? Changing the way we think about something is not easy. Seeing all things from God's perspective is not a small thing. This renewal of our minds is not accomplished in a moment, but only as we let God build the revelation of Himself in us. It all takes time, and this is where we must be willing to wait upon God. If our minds are constantly preoccupied with other things, how will God be able to reveal to us His plan and purpose in Christ Jesus?
To be able to think clearly in God, we must begin with quiet hearts. If we are troubled and not trusting God in all things, we likely will be led astray in our thinking. As we wait upon God in prayer, our hearts can be stilled in His presence. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:6-8).
If we are unexercised in this secret place with God, we may find it very difficult to be still. A thousand and one thoughts seem to crowd in and push God out. We must deal with them one by one. As each issue comes before us, we must bring it before the Lord: "Am I willing to leave this in God's hands? Do I really believe He is God and knows all things? Can I trust Him to work all things for His glory and my best good?" This is where we find out if God is really God to us. We may know He is God, but is He my God? Is Jesus my Lord? The Lord will not fail us if we come diligently before Him day by day. It may take more time than we first thought, but the fruit will come, as surely as God is God. "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:6).
When truth begins to dawn upon our souls, and we start to see the implications of what God is revealing to us, our first reaction may be one of disbelief. "Could this really be true? Could I have been so wrong? What will I do about this or that?" Consider what the multitude had to deal with when Peter told them they had crucified the Christ. The act was done, and they could not go back. As the Holy Spirit convicted them of their sin, they cried out, "What shall we do?" Peter's answer was one that should bring hope to our hearts as well. "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call'" (Acts 2:38-39).
Let God expand the truth in this familiar scripture to us. Because Jesus paid the price of our sin, He can offer us a place of repentance. To repent is to turn from our natural thinking and the actions that resulted from that thinking, to God and all that He is. The issue before us may not seem as monumental as crucifying the Christ, but sin can be defined as any movement in our lives separate from God. Self-effort does not exist when Jesus is Lord. God's provision is Himself, the Holy Spirit who is God. If God has never come to indwell us as on the day of Pentecost, then our first step is to receive Him. But after God has come to abide, it does not necessarily follow that every wrong concept has been dealt with or that we have fully obeyed Jesus in all things. In that secret place before God, He puts His finger on anything that hinders our relationship with Him, and as we repent from what God shows us, the relationship is cleared and the Holy Spirit has His way, continuing to reveal Christ in us.
Consider how God dealt with the churches in the book of Revelation. To six out of seven of them, we find words similar to these: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19). The chastening of God is an evidence of His love. It is not for the purpose of putting us out, but of bringing us into a greater fellowship with God. The danger is that either we will run from this quiet place before God so that we don't have to deal with Him, or that when God does deal, we will argue and excuse ourselves, and not respond to Him. Either response will leave us outside the grace of God and becoming hardened, perhaps eventually to the point that we are no longer sensitive to the wooing of the Holy Spirit. May none of us be found in that place!
Once again, why should we spend time with God? There is one simple answer: we want to spend time with God because we love Him. There should be a longing within the heart of every child of God to draw away to the secret place with God. There we commune as friend with friend. There I may lay my head upon the bosom of Christ, even as John did. There I know a place of acceptance before God in Christ our Lord. There I will be one with God, my whole life lived out before Him in confidence. This is a place not to be feared but desired. What a wonderful privilege God has granted to us! Let the Lord open our eyes to see the glory of this new life with Him.