Anthony W. Brooks
In churches I’ve attended in the past there was a teaching that, unfortunately, has made headway in churches all over the country. This teaching is the existence of what is called the “carnal Christian” or the Christian who isn’t being sanctified. While they are teaching this they teach the doctrine of regeneration or “being born again”. So basically what they are claiming is that someone can be born again and not grow up. I wish I had a puppy that would do this. But unfortunately biology doesn’t work like that and neither does sanctification.
Nicodemus Learns this the Hard Way
“3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3-5
The first instance of didactic teaching on the new birth in Jesus’ ministry is in John 3. Nicodemus, a teacher of the law, comes to Jesus and inquired of him as to how he does so many great signs and Jesus replies above with the teaching of the new birth. We are “Born again” of “water and spirit”. classically this refers to water and spirit baptism. In Romans 6 this idea of being born again is put in another way:
“2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:2-4
The idea here is that the old sinful man has died and the resurrected man is made alive. So what happens to your sin? “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” If we have died to sin then sin is to be mortified (dead) to you. You are to hate your sin:
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” – Romans 12:9
Sin being evil should be abhorred (hated) and good (righteousness) should be held up as the standard. So in salvation we are to hold fast to the good (do what is good) because we were born to do so, born again that is.
This Flows From Our New Natures
“26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27
Ezekiel is writing the words of God and God told him what regeneration truly means, that when we are saved from death, sin, and the wrath of God we are given new hearts so that we will be caused to “walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ephesians 2 says:
“8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10
We are saved through faith by God’s grace as a gift. Then God prepared works for us that we should walk in them. He prepared these works when? Beforehand. The new person that was born again through faith is to walk in goodness, abhorring evil. And all these good works and right living was ordained by God. Holiness is the goal. To be holy means to be separate. From what?
“1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2
From the world. We are not to be conformed to the world. Why? It’s evil. This is why we have to be born again in the first place. We were born into an evil race of humans, so we had to be born into the kingdom of God to receive forgiveness of sins. But what if we do sin? There’s an answer for that which I’ll cover in the next post.
Soli Deo Gloria!