We were driving home from the pool last week and stopped at a stop sign where I saw a horrible profanity spray-painted on the back of a nearby street sign. My first thought was, “What kind of a person would do such a thing?” God quickly reminded me of myself ten-plus years ago and softly said “Someone like that.” I thought of how familiar I used to be with that word.
I spoke it, heard it, thought it, wrote it–all very comfortably too. Who knows? I may have even spray-painted it if the occasion had arisen? It was a symptom of my condition. I was far from God. I did not desire the things of God–righteousness, holiness or purity.
I thought of my pastor’s sermon from the week prior in which he had preached on Psalm 16. Verse 2 says “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” God made clear to me in those moments that the good that is in me is because of His work in me. The reason I am horrified is because His spirit is in me. I am a new creature in Christ, the old has gone.
All of us are in the same boat, sinners far apart from God until He performs the miraculous work of regeneration in our hearts which allows us to respond to Jesus in faith and receive His righteousness. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 he needed to be “born again.” This is regeneration and it is essential in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
When we are regenerated, our mind is opened to receive the truth about God and His son Jesus. I have said many times that I heard the Gospel for the first time at age 28. The more I consider this, the more I believe I “heard” the gospel prior to that time. On January 24, 1999 I was able to “understand” the Gospel for the first time because of the work God was doing on the inside of me.
In addition to our mind being enlightened, our will is also changed. We lay down self-centeredness in favor of God-centeredness. Our nature is changed and along with that, our desires are brand new. Basically, we are restored into a right relationship with God in Christ.
Psalm 51 talks about “truth in the inner parts” and “wisdom in the inmost place,” also the ideas of being cleansed, washed, having our iniquities blotted out and a pure heart being created within us. These are works only the living God can complete on the inside of us. He is the initiator of regeneration. We are not talking about a makeover or a New Year’s Resolution. We are talking about a radical change, a new creation!
Ephesians 5:8 says though we were once in darkness, now we are light in the Lord and commands us to “live as children of light!” It’s like “I know who you used to be and how you lived that out, but you are a new creature now and I want you to ACT like it!!” (See also 2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
It was the understanding of who Jesus was and the significance of His death on the cross that changed the Apostle Paul’s perspective. Before his conversion, Paul knew Christ as merely another man. After his conversion, this understanding had changed his whole point of view!
This is really the key:
How do you view Christ’s death on the cross? As a historical fact or as a vital part of your personal history?
Does His work on the cross have personal implications for you?
Does it impact your future, your eternity?
What are the symptoms of your condition today?
There is a definitive change that takes place in regeneration. If you haven’t experienced this change would you call out to Him right now?