By Virginia Brandt Berg
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“When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). The secret place of prayer is also a place of renewal; that is, renewing of the mind.
Romans 12 speaks clearly of this. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1–2).
Out of the wonderful cluster of truths in these verses, we take one little nugget of gold; that is, the phrase “the renewing of your mind,” for there is no place where the mind can be so fully renewed as alone with God in the secret place. When you come aside from temporal things which distract and harass you, and there in the presence of God put your mind on the things of God, His majesty and glory, then the transforming power of God begins to work.
We are indeed transformed by the renewing of our mind. Now this is vital, because it is in the mind that sin is first conceived. The devil attacks us first in our thoughts; this is the door through which he finds entrance. But thank God we can close that door. You have found, as I have, that in the hard places, amidst severe trial, the Enemy tries to put discouraging thoughts in your mind.
The renewing of the mind will strengthen us to run the race, and as God’s Word says, to “not faint in our minds.” Our mind is where we faint first and become discouraged. Hebrews 12:3 says, “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
It’s no use to talk victory, using cheerful words, but think thoughts of defeat and discouragement. We can by an act of our will take our minds off such thoughts and put them on God and the many wonderful things He says in His Word.
It’s vital that you have certain scriptures memorized so that you can quickly wield the sword of the Spirit when the Enemy attacks. Soon you will be lifted out of dark, discouraging thoughts and feel God’s transforming power renewing your mind. The one who has not learned to thus renew his mind when he sees his thoughts are pulling him down cannot claim the promise in this verse, that he shall “prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). That’s a tragedy, because it’s a tragedy not to know God’s will for your life.
So when the Enemy tempts you with evil thoughts of any kind, and you slam the door, stay your mind on Christ and the truths of Scripture; then the uplifting and transforming power promised in today’s verse will give you victory over every ugly thought, and you will partake more and more of the divine nature. As you form the habit of thinking Godward from His Word, thinking God’s thoughts after Him, gradually, according to 2 Corinthians 10:5, this will be fulfilled: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
It is the word “Christ” that makes all the difference in this verse. Last year I visited in the home of a woman who was deep in the study of science of the mind, and she was constantly struggling to think positively, but was always being defeated in her positive thinking. She reminded me of the little boy whose mother told him at long last that if he did not sit down, she would punish him. Well, he sat down, but soon he said in a rebellious voice, “I’m sitting down, all right, but I just want you to know that I’m standing up on the inside!”
This dear woman would put on a veneer of control, but inwardly she would be boiling! She wasn’t a Christian, and when she gave up her negative thinking, she had nothing factual to hold into. She did not have Christ to help her or all the wonderful truths of God’s Word to think on. What an advantage the Christian has.
Note this verse again: “Casting down everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” I believe in positive thinking, and there is a science of the mind, but there is no salvation or eternal life in either.
God’s Word says there is no other name given among men under heaven whereby we can be saved, and in none other is there salvation. (See Acts 4:12.) Meditate upon these scriptures. David said, “Thy testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99). And 2 Corinthians 11:3 says, “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
At first it is not easy to deliberately, by the act of the will, put your mind on God, His Word, His love, His truths. But gradually, by the principle of repetition, your thoughts will be brought into captivity to Christ. Remember, God never asks you to do what can’t be done! He never asks us to do what we’re unable to do.
This is His Word, and His Word is true. God cannot lie. His Word stands unchanging, everlasting, steadfast. God says it, and it’s so because God says so.
Let’s have a word of prayer about it. We thank Thee, Father, for this precious Word of Thine, so wonderful in its helpfulness, so true! We pray that You will quicken faith for Thy blessed Word, that when we will read it we will know that it’s God that is speaking, and its truths will take hold of our hearts.
We pray, Lord, that nothing in our lives shall be exalted or lifted up above the mind of God, but we might have that mind in us which is also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), until at last we can say with the psalmist, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (Psalm 119:147–148).
God bless you and make you a blessing. Remember, He is still on the throne and prayer changes things.
From a transcript of a Meditation Moments broadcast, adapted. Published on Anchor March 2023. Read by Lenore Welsh.