Regeneration/New Birth: the Spiritual Start of Something Great
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)
Way back before Jesus’ incarnation and even before creation, God purposed to conform all who believed in Jesus into the very likeness of Jesus. This doesn’t mean we physically look like him, but spiritually, our attitudes, our motives, our values, our loves, our priorities, every little dimension of who we are, God wants to root out the effects of sin and replace it with what healthy looks like. Jesus is the picture of health.
But how do you do that? Quarantine? Spiritual antibiotics? Spiritual chemotherapy? God’s plan is way more radical than that. This transformation requires an actual new birth. A whole new start. A complete do-over. The theological word for this is regeneration.
- “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” (John 3:3)
- “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)
Let’s focus on the Titus verse a little. The first part describes the mercy of God in justifying us according to his mercy—not our works; not our doing—but God’s doing on our behalf. Notice that the last clause explains the first. “He saved us…by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” What Jesus calls born again, Paul calls regeneration.
God’s solution? A complete reboot. A whole new start. By the washing of regeneration. Regeneration is God creating a whole new nature in us. A new life. A new heart. A new power and desire to live to please God. The old nature delights in sin and cannot please God. The new nature delights in righteous living and wants very much to please God. This means for the Christian, sin is no longer our master and we no longer have to live under its bondage. That is great news!
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2014 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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