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Someone Cares Series
The New Birth
As we observed in our last lesson, God sent His Son to save us "from our sins" that "whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (Matthew 1:21; John 3:16). Through faith in Jesus we receive:
1. repentance for sin,
2. forgiveness for sin, and
3. power to overcome sin.
This work of grace is the beginning of a "new life", which is called the "new birth" or "conversion." In this lesson we will see how this new birth takes place in our lives.
1. How many of us are naturally good?
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: ... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:10, 23).
There is not one of us who is naturally good. We have all sinned and failed to reveal the character of God in our lives. Through Satan's temptations all members of the whole human race have become transgressors of God's Law, but by the sacrifice of His Son a way is opened whereby they may return to God. Through the grace (power) of Christ, they may be enabled to render obedience to the Father's Law.
2. Therefore, what is "most assuredly" necessary if we are going to receive the free gift of eternal life?
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ... Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:3, 5, 6).
As we are all sinners and doomed to die, the only way that we can receive the gift of eternal life is to experience a change of heart. Without a regeneration of the heart through faith in Jesus' blood there can be no passing over or wiping away of sins. In the heart that is changed truth has been working secretly, silently, and steadily to transform the soul. The old inclinations are softened and subdued. New thoughts, new feelings, and new motives are implanted and a new standard of character is set up, the life of Christ. The mind is changed and the faculties are roused to action in new lines. The sinner has been sanctified.
3. Can we change ourselves?
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil" (Jeremiah 13:23).
We cannot change our sinful ways. It is just as impossible for mankind to do good as it is for the Ethiopian to change his skin or the leopard to change his spots. But we may become conquerors through the power of Jesus. Our sinful ways may be overcome and there is hope for the most hopeless through relying on Jesus for strength to resist temptation.
Steps to Conversion
4. The Bible points out three steps to conversions. What is the first step?
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;" (Acts 3:19).
We are called to repent of our sins and confess them to God, that they might be pardoned, and the record of these sins might be blotted out. It is only through Christ that we can be brought into harmony with God. To be converted is to have a change of heart. Our desires, motives and purposes are changed. It is not a true conversion until there is a reformation of heart. Desires for self must be dead.
5. Repentance means to be so sorry for our sins that we do not want to repeat them. Only God can give us that sorrow for sin, for we, by nature, love sin. What will true repentance lead us to do with our past, sinful way of life?
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. ... Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness" (Romans 6:6, 16)?
By God's help we will crucify or put to death all the old sinful ways and desires. True repentance will lead us to make restitution if we have stolen goods or wronged anyone, and we will not want to serve sin anymore. As soon as we yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit, we will cast aside every wrong practice. Then there will be a reformation in the life and we shall become the servants of obedience and righteousness.
6. After repentance, what is the second step?
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
We must confess our sins to God, asking Him for forgiveness and believing that He has forgiven us. After confessing our sins and believing that He has forgiven us, we are not to dwell on our sins. The conditions of obtaining mercy from God are simple and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some grievous thing in order to gain forgiveness. If our salvation depended upon our efforts we could not be saved for they would not be worthy or sufficient. We are dependent upon the One who is behind all promises.
7. Thirdly, after repentance and forgiveness, how are we then to live?
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).
We are to live a new life, a righteous life, through the power of the Holy Spirit. At the time of conversion, we die to all desires to please self, and in baptism we are by faith symbolically buried and resurrected by faith to a new life as we rise up out of the water. Then we will love as Christ lived, being patient, gentle, kind, meek and lowly. Those who experience a new life by the Holy Spirit will receive the divine nature of Jesus.
8. What will happen if we repent of our sins but do not replace our evil deeds with good deeds?
"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first" (Luke 11:24-26).
When one is fully emptied of self, when every false god is cast out of the life, the vacuum is to be filled by the Holy Spirit; otherwise Satan will return to obtain seven times the power over the life. We are to be conformed to the Spirit, and mind the things of the Spirit. All confidence in self is gone and Christ becomes all in all, as we receive with meekness the truth as it is revealed to us. The Holy Spirit recreates, refines and sanctifies human beings, fitting them to become members of God's family.
New Life Through Jesus
9. The end product of conversion is a new life of righteousness. How can we live this new life?
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:2-4).
God has power to help even the weakest sinner to resist all temptations to sin. When Christ dwells in our hearts by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are free from condemnation. Ever since Adam's sin, humanity has been cut off from communion with God, but when Christ came God communicated with us through Christ. He came as one of us, and showed how we could live a victorious life. We are to look to Jesus and believe that He can save us only through His grace. Through faith we can receive the grace of God, but faith is not our Saviour.
10. Who showed us the way to live this new life of righteousness?
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
Jesus is the assurance of every promise, the surety of our deliverance from sin, the assurance of our power to obey the Law of heaven. He suffered the death which was ours that we might receive the life which was His. He was treated as we deserve that we might be treated as He deserved. He was condemned for our sins in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness in which we had no share. It is only through Christ that we receive pardon and cleansing from sin.
11. In demonstrating a righteous life, Jesus showed us three things we can do to enable the Holy Spirit to give us this new life. What is one thing Jesus did, and taught us to do, to live the victorious Christian life?
"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:34-36).
We need to be careful that in this life we are not caught up with all kinds of festivities and cares of this life so that the day of God creeps up on us before we know where we are. We have reached the period foretold in the Scriptures. The time of the end is come, the visions of the prophets are unsealed and their solemn warnings point us to the fact that our Lord's coming in glory is near at hand. Today the desires of this world absorb man's thoughts and they take no note of the rapidly fulfilling prophecies and the tokens of the swift coming kingdom of God.
12 A second thing Jesus did was to study the Bible and to resist temptation by quoting Scripture. What will regular Bible study do for us?
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:3, 4).
When we study the Bible daily, the Holy Spirit fills us with holy thoughts and gives us strength to resist temptation. If we will fill our minds with texts of the Bible our minds will not be so affected by sin. In His Word God reveals what He can do for human beings. He molds and fashions us after His likeness. Through His power we are made to partake of Jesus' divine nature and thus are enabled to overcome all temptation. It is God who gives us power to overcome.
13. Thirdly, after receiving spiritual strength through prayer and Bible study, Jesus mentally and consciously resisted Satan and his temptations, and chose to do right (see Isaiah 7:14, 15 and Luke 4:8). What should we do when tempted?
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (James 4:7, 8).
When faced with temptation we need to submit our will to the will of God and do things His way. The moment we feel the power of temptation we need to flee to the Lord for strength to resist the temptation. God will come to our aid and Satan will have to flee. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. He lifts up a standard against the enemy and the enemy cannot pass this standard. The closer we are to God, the safer we are, for Satan hates and fears the presence of God.
14. These three things -- Prayer, Bible study, and exercising our will in refusing to sin and choosing to do good with the spiritual strength we have thus received -- are the secrets for victorious Christian living. We must combine divine power with human effort. But we must do this every day, even moment by moment. How can we have a growing Christian experience?
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:" (Colossians 2:6).
As we first received Jesus by faith, so we live day by day through faith in Jesus and His cleansing blood. Each day, as we are born anew and consecrate our lives to the Lord Jesus, He renews us by His Holy Spirit. As we daily resist temptation through the power of Jesus, so we will become stronger to resist and overcome. As we study God's Word we get to know His will, we claim His promises, and through prayer we speak to God and receive from Him strength tto choose His way at all times.
15. When we have been truly born again, what will happen to us?
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Anyone who has chosen to follow Jesus and has surrendered his life to Him will have the Holy Spirit come and live in His heart, making him a new person and giving him new desires and inclinations as well as cleansing away cherished ideas and opinions. All the old ways and habits have passed away and the person lives as Jesus lived, obeying the heavenly Father in all things.
Is it your desire to be born again into a spiritual life of righteousness, with Jesus as your example? Will you spend time with Jesus every day in prayer and Bible study, and with the strength you thus receive from God choose to resist sin and to follow the Lord Jesus Christ?
Started with Prophecy"
Page created: 7/23/98 Updated: 11/15/2006
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