All men are by nature the children of wrath, and are under the power of
darkness. In this state men are not the subjects of Christ's kingdom
and have no fitness for heaven. From this terrible state they are
unable to deliver themselves. (I John 5:19; Romans 5:6) Out of this
state they must be supernaturally called.(I Peter 2:9; Colossians 1:13)
This divine "call" or work of grace is called in Scriptures as:
REGENERATION (Titus 3:5); TRANSFORMATION (II Cor.3:18); THE NEW BIRTH,
ILLUMINATION (II Cor. 4:6); SPIRITUAL RESURRECTION (John 5:24). This
inward call is attended with justification and adoption and
conversion,(which includes faith and repentance). (Romans 8:30; Eph.
1:5; Eph.2:1-10) Thus leading us to the EFFECTS OF REGENERATION.
Jesus in John 3:8 tells us of this matter, speaking of the blowing of
the wind. Man is unable to originate, order or regulate the wind. Man
knows very little of the cause which controls the wind, yet the
presence of the wind is unmistakable; and its EFFECTS are plainly
evidenced, "SO IS EVERY ONE THAT IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT." BUT THE
TRANSFORMING RESULTS BECOME PLAIN.
The illumination of the understanding Gen. 1 "In the beginning God
created the heaven and the earth." Then:" the earth was without form
and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Next: "And the
Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," and God said: "Let
there be light."
So it is when God begins to restore fallen man: "For God who commanded
the light to shine out of the darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to
give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of
Jesus Christ." (II Cor. 4:6)
This Divine illumination is not by dreams, visions, or mere feelings,
but the revelation of things to his mind and soul which have been all
along in sacred Scriptures. Now the blessed Holy Spirit removes the
blindfold from his eyes and opens his heart to receive the written
Word. (Acts 16:14) Then He begins to powerfully apply to the mind and
conscience some portion of it. The result is that the one renewed is
able to say, "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
To be more particular, The sinner is now enlightened in the knowledge
of his own terrible condition. He may earlier have known many Bible
facts, even doctrinal statements, received much instruction; BUT NOW,
the solemn declarations of God's Word concerning his fallen state are
brought home in piercing power to him. He no longer justifies himself
by comparison with his fellow man, he measures himself by the law of
God. He is now terribly convicted by his own uncleanness and wickedness
before a thrice holy God. ( Isaiah 1:6; 64:6)
By this new spiritual light which God communicates in REGENERATION he
now sees that the "wages" he has earned by sin deserve eternal death.
That he has placed himself under the awful wrath of God. He now
realizes that he has lived his whole life in utter independence of God,
having no regard for His glory, what pleased and displeased a holy God.
He is thus brought to cry out "WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?"
He now understands truly the awful malignity of sin, as being not only
contrary to the whole law of God, but contrary to the true nature of
God Himself. He is convinced of the absolute impossibility of
contributing anything to obtain his own deliverance. He no longer has
any confidence in himself; he has been brought to the end of himself.
As Paul wrote "He is without Christ and without hope in this world."
Thus his mouth is stopped and he confesses himself GUILTY BEFORE GOD,
and justly liable to His awful vengeance, both because of the plague of
his own heart and his numerous transgressions.
HE NOW SEES THE SUITABILITY OF CHRIST
By means of this illumination the renewed soul, under the Holy Spirit
through the Word, now perceives (comprehends) how WELL SUITED Christ
Jesus is to his poor wretched condition. The only hope he clings to is
the prospect of obtaining deliverance from the "wrath to come" through
the vicarious life and death of the Lord Jesus (i.e. Jesus Christ lived
for and died right in the very place of a people). This keeps his soul
from being overwhelmed with grief and from sinking into complete
despondency because of the SIGHT of his sins.
As the Holy Spirit (through the Word) presents to him the infinite
merits of Christ's obedience and righteousness, His tender compassion
for repentant sinners, His great power to save, desires to share in
that work now possess his heart. He is now resolved to look for
salvation in no other. (person, working, or church) Under the gracious
influences of the Holy Spirit, the soul is drawn by such words as
these: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest." or "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast
out,"and he is led to apply to Him for pardon, cleansing, peace,
Other acts besides turning to Christ, such as REPENTANCE, which is a
godly sorrow for sin, a hating of sin as sin, and an earnest desire to
forsake and be completely delivered from its pollution. In the light of
God, the renewed soul now perceives the utter vanity of the world, and
the worthlessness of those former worthless toys and perishing trifles
which the godless strive so hard to acquire. He has been awakened from
the dream-sleep of death, and things are now seen in their true nature.
Time is precious, not to be frittered away. God in His awesome Majesty
is an object of godly fear and reverence. His holy law is accepted as
just and good. All of these perceptions (new sight, or new way of
seeing what the Word has stated) and actions are included in that
holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. In some these actions
are more vigorous than in others, and consequently, are more seen by
the man himself. But the fruits of them are visible to others in
THE WILL FREED FROM BONDAGE
By nature,(the state into which all men are born), the will of man is
free in only one direction: AWAY FROM GOD. Sin has enslaved the will,
therefore, do we need to be "made free" (John 8:36). The two states are
contrasted in Romans 6: "free from righteousness" v20 and "free from
sin" v 18, when we have been made alive unto God. At the new birth the
will is liberated from the "bondage of corruption" (Rom. 8:21 cf II
Peter 2:19), and rendered conformable to the will of God (Psalm
119:97). In our unregenerate state the will was naturally rebellious,
and its language was, "Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?" (Exodus
5:2) But the Father promised the Son, "Thy people shall BE WILLING in
the day of thy power" (Ps.110:3), and this is accomplished when God
"worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil 2:13;
"A new heart, a new spirit...I will take out your stony heart...and I
will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes."
(Heb.8:10; Ezek.36:26-27) The regenerated freely consent to and gladly
choose to walk in subjection to Christ, being anxious now to obey Him
in all things, even though imperfectly. His authority is his only rule,
His love the constraining power: "If a man love me, he WILL KEEP my
words." (John 14:23)
The will is so emancipated from the power of sin to be enabled to
answer the Divine Command.
ELEVATION OF THE HEART
Rightly does the Lord claim first place as Creator, Owner, and
Redeemer. "My son give Me thine heart" (Prov.23:26) expresses God's
claim. They "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (II Cor.8:5) is
the response of the regenerate. For before they were born anew, by
natural birth they are "lovers of their own selves" and "lovers of
pleasure more than lovers of God" (II Tim.3:2,4). When a sinner is
renewed, his affections are taken off his idols and fixed on his Lord
(I Thess. 1:9). Hence it is written "with the HEART man believeth unto
righteousness" (Rom.10:10).And hence, also it is written, "If any man
LOVE NOT the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed" (I Cor.16:22).
In Deut. 30:6 we read: "And the Lord God will circumcise thine heart,
and the heart of thy seed, to LOVE the Lord thy God WITH ALL THY
HEART." This is the renewing of the heart, severing its love from all
illicit objects. None can truly love God supremely till this miracle of
grace has been worked in him. Then, and only then, is it that the
affections are refined and directed to their proper objects, He who
once was despised by the soul, is now the "altogether lovely" One. He
who was hated (John 15:18) is now loved above all others. "Whom have I
in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides
Thee." is now their joyous confession.
The love of God is now become the governing principle of their life.
(II Cor.5:13) What before was drudgery is now a delight. The approval
of His Saviour is now his concern. Gratitude moves his will to glad
obedience. Then his heart goes out to members of Christ's family, no
matter their nationality, social position, or church connections: "We
know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the
brethren" (I John 3:14).
"A NEW HEART ALSO WILL I GIVE YOU..."
A CHANGE OF CONDUCT
A tree is known by its fruits. Faith is evidenced by works. The
principle of holiness manifests itself in a godly walk. "If ye know
that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness
is born of Him" (I John 2:29). The deep longing of every child of God
is to please his heavenly Father in all things, and though this longing
is never fully realized in this life-"NOT as though I had ALREADY
attained, either were already perfect" (Phil.3:12)- nevertheless he
continues "reaching forth unto those things which are before."
A change will take place in the conduct of the most oral unconverted
man as soon as he is born from above. Not only will he be far less
eager in his pursuit of the world, more careful in his selections of
companions, but he now realizes that the holy eye of God is ever upon
him, marking not only his actions, but weighing his motives. He now
bears the sacred name of Christ, and his deepest concern is to be kept
from everything which would bring a reproach upon it. His aim is to let
his light so shine before men that they may see his good works and
glorify his Father which is in heaven. That which gives him concern and
distress is not the sneers and taunts of the ungodly, but that he fails
to measure up to the standard God has set before him, and that
conformity to it after which he so yearns. BUT ought not the Christian
to "grow in grace"? Yes, indeed. Yet it must be emphatically said that
growing in grace most certainly does not mean an increasing
satisfaction with myself. No, it is the very opposite. The more I walk
in the light of God, the more plainly I see the vileness within me. The
only relief from this distressing discovery and the only peace for the
renewed heart is to look away from self to Christ and His perfect work
for us. Faith empties of all self-complacency and gives an exalted
estimate of God in Christ.
OCCUPIED WITH CHRIST
A growth in grace is defined, in great part, by the words that
immediately follow: "...and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18). It is the GROWING realization of the
perfect suitability of Christ to a poor sinner, the deepening
conviction of His fitness to be the Saviour of such a vile wretch as
the Spirit shows me I am. It is the apprehension of how much I need His
precious blood to cleans me, His righteousness to clothe me, His arm to
support me, His advocacy to answer me on high, His grace to deliver me
from all my enemies, both inward and outward.
The more the heart is occupied with Christ, the more the mind is stayed
on Him by trusting in Him (just camped right there, JCS) (Isaiah 26:3),
the more will faith, hope, love, patience, meekness, and all spiritual
graces be strengthened and drawn forth into exercise and action to the
glory of God. The MANIFESTATION of growth in grace and in the knowledge
of Christ is another thing. The actual process of growing is not
perceptible either in the natural or in the spiritual sphere; but the
results of it are, mainly so to others. The chief EVIDENCES of
spiritual growth in the Christian are a deepening hatred of sin and a
higher value put on spiritual things, a yearning after them, and a
fuller recognition of our deep need and dependency on God to supply it.
"The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold
from them that walk uprightly" (Ps.84:11). Grace and glory are not to
be separated. Grace is glory begun. Glory is grace elevated to its
perfection in the eternal state. In I John 3:2, we are told that we
shall be like Him, reason? "WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS." The immediate
vision of the Lord of glory will be a transforming one, the bright
reflections of God's purity and holiness cast upon the glorified will
make them perfectly holy and blessed. BUT there is to be a resemblance
of that here in the lives of His people. And too comes from BEHOLDING
HIM. (II Cor.3:18)
"But we all...beholding...the glory of the Lord, are changed into the
same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
(Excerpts from A.W. Pink on
Regeneration and the new birth)