Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
The regeneration of our spirit begins the day when we believe in Jesus’ baptism and substitutionary death. Our faith in the baptism Jesus received from John the Baptist at the River Jordan fulfills all Righteousness of God, Matt 3:15. It foreshadows the OT sacrificial system when all our lifetime sins were once and for all passed upon the body of Jesus. He subsequently died and rose from the dead on the third day according to Scriptures. Faith in the baptism, death and resurrection are indispensable components that constitute the Righteousness of God that saves one’s soul. In this age, the greatest miracle is God undoing the internal damage to man’s spirit, soul and body. The process of bringing the harmony and balance He originally designed for us is called regeneration.
Paul amplifies this when he says in 2 Cor 5:17, “therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away behold new things have come.”
What were those old things that passed away? Basically, our “Old Man” passed away. That’s everything we were in Adam: spiritually dead, hostile to God, under the Law, headed for eternity in hell, obliged to serve Satan, dominated by our soulish life in the flesh, not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, unrighteous, condemned and self centered. The Apostle Paul named this fact of the “old man” having been crucified as the basis for all those things we were in Adam losing their power over us. Knowing this, that our Old Man was crucified with Christ, that our body of sin might be made powerless and we should no longer be slaves to sin, for we who have died is acquitted of sin. Rom 6:6-7 paraphrased.
As I have always said, there is no particular power in simply being dead. We went into the grave as the Old Man but we came out in our resurrection with Christ as a New Man. Paul stresses that in Col 3:2-10. Here he tells the believers to set their minds on things above, not on the things of earth, for we have died to those things and are simply to consider this as a fact. Paul then urges us to put aside things like anger, wrath, ill-will, foul language and lies because we have laid aside the Old Man (self) with its evil practices and have already put on the New Man (self) who is in the process of being regenerated into the image of God.
Not only did the old things passed away when we were born again but all things became new in our relationship with God and inside of us. Everything that is true of us now that we are in Christ – whether we are actually experiencing it or not – is a New Man that we have become. This is the real us that God looks at. Now, in actual behavior, all things haven’t become new yet. We still have many of the old hang ups we had before we were born again.
Hence, the reason God calls us New Man is that He always looks at us in the light of the finished product He is making us into. This attitude of God toward man has a creative power in it that actually brings our behavior into line with the way God sees us.
Paul talks about this New Man in Rom 7 who hates to sin but unfortunately he still finds himself sinning. He laments that this new man wants to do good but somehow doesn’t seem to have the power to perform the good he wants to do. He finally concludes that even though we are a New Man in Christ and God will always look at us that way, we still have the old rebellious flesh and it still wants to control us and often does. It expresses itself through our attitudes as well as our actions. Paul’s despair in Rom 7 leads to its biggest discovery, one that could come by personal experience. That is, the New Man has no power in itself to overcome sin and live for God, it has desire but no ability to do what it desires. Then he writes the whole 8th chapter of Romans to show what all of his defeat has taught him. That is that the power of the New Man is in the indwelling Holy Spirit and He must be depended on by the believer in order to overcome sin and live for God.
Victories To Be Claimed
Regeneration takes place in the human spirit because that’s the part of us that needs new life. The repercussions take place throughout our whole being as our souls and bodies come under the rightful domination of the spirit again. This is the whole purpose in regeneration, to bring the original unity and harmony back into the relationship between the body, soul and spirit. From the moment we are born again, our spirits are indwelt by the Holy Spirit because He is the actual agent of our new life. In fact, Paul says that if anyone doesn’t have the Spirit in him, he doesn’t belong to Christ. Rom 8:9 However, whether the Holy Spirit is allowed to fill (control) our soul and flesh is a matter of our personal decision. The soul still has free will and it must decide moment by moment what will dominate the life – the Holy Spirit, living through our reborn spirit or the flesh (sin).
It’s to the free will in the souls of men that Paul makes his plea in Rom 6:11-13, “reckon yourselves to be dead to sin…do not let sin reign in your mortal body…Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.”
These are commands that can be ignored or followed whichever the mind decides. Our responsibility is to decide to obey and then the Spirit goes into action in us and pours the power into us to do what we have decided. We are never relieved of the responsibility of deciding to follow the Father’s will, but the actual power to do it comes from the Holy Spirit. That’s what Paul meant when he said, “for it is God Who is at work in you both to will and to do” Phil 2:13. The willing part comes from the presence of the New Nature within us and the doing comes from the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
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