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05. Seven Marks of a Regenerated Christian

Chapter 5

 Seven Marks of a  Regenerated Christian

Second Blessing?

It is disturbing that many Christians are slow to grasp the basic things of the Christian life. Many people spend their lives with­out experiencing the reality of regeneration and the new life in Christ. As a result, some Christians think that they need a “second blessing,” as it is called in some churches. Insofar as this so-called second blessing has anything to do with God’s Word then, upon examination, it is really nothing other than the regeneration exper­ience, and is not something additional to it. There is nothing in the second blessing that is not already included in regeneration.

If, however, “second blessing” is meant to refer exclusively or prim­arily to an experience of speaking in tongues, then it isn’t necessarily a regeneration experience at all. That is to say, a person who speaks in tongues is not necessarily regenerate. And he who is not born anew, or born from above, is certainly not filled with the Spirit. Hence to encour­age an unregenerate person to speak in tongues is to lead him into self-deception or, even worse, into the devil’s deception. To encourage “Christians” who are still unregen­erate, not having repented of their sins or yielded their lives to the lordship of God, to speak in tongues is to open them to the danger of being filled with the wrong spirit, i.e. some evil spirit. This, sadly, has happened not infrequently.

I have been reading accounts of people who have gone through the “second blessing”. The things they experienced should have been part of the “first blessing” of being born anew, which they didn’t experience in the first place. For example, they speak of a renewed intimacy with God, or a sense of God’s presence, or a deep inner joy. All these things, in fact, are part of regeneration, which they should have experienced at the beginning of the new life in Christ.

Some people in their “second blessing” see the need to stop living in their own strength and live instead by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that is given to those who belong to Christ. But this, too, is a part of the basic regeneration experience. The one fundamental blessing that God has given us is the blessing of regeneration.

Many Christians embrace the idea of a second blessing either because they have a wrong understand­ing of regeneration or be­cause they have not experienced regeneration in the first place. They may have been attending church for many years without ex­periencing the abundant Christian life. The idea of a second blessing is especially popular in the Western world where many people have been baptized as infants, or have been converted at evangelistic meetings but without being born from above in the biblical sense. They somehow think that their initial decision to accept Christ is the same as regeneration. Before too long, however, they run into spiritual problems and find their Christian life unsatisfact­ory. They search for something better, and when they find it, they call it a “second blessing”.

The “second blessing” teaching em­braced by our Pentecostal and charismatic friends has given rise to much debate within many churches. Arguments have arisen because other Chris­tians would say to the Charismatics, “You’re wrong. We received the Holy Spirit when we became regenerate.” That may be true in theory, but the Charismatics are also right in replying, “But you haven’t experience the fullness of the Spirit, have you?”

The confusion arises because some teachers have sliced regener­ation into two blessings: a first and a second. To dispel this miscon­ception, let us look at the seven marks of regeneration as we find them in John’s writings. These seven marks are part of regen­eration, with or without a “second blessing”.

The Seven Marks of Regeneration

In the last chapter we considered only one mark of regeneration, namely, victory. That particular mark of regeneration ultimately follows from, or is a consequence of, the seven marks we are about to consider. The regenerate man always lives in triumph. 1 John 5.4 says, “Whoever is born of God over­comes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” This we have already considered in some detail, and we won’t repeat it. It is good, however, to remind ourselves of the important fact that every regen­erate Christian lives in victory. If your Christian life is a defeated and miserable one, then something must be fundamentally wrong with it. You may be in need of regeneration.

Let us now consider the seven marks of regen­eration in the Johannine writings; these include John’s Gospel, the three letters of John, and the Revelation.

First Mark: Authority to be Children of God

In John 1.12-13 we read:

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (RSV)

In our natural or physical birth, we were indeed “born of blood,” and “of the will of the flesh”, and “of the will of man”. But in our spiritual birth, we are “born of God” (regenerated).

The statement, “He gave power (or authority) to become children of God,” is deep, and it would take a whole sermon to expound it. For our present purposes, we focus on the word “power”[15] which John uses. Without God’s power, we cannot be children of God. That’s because we don’t have the power to save ourselves or to cause ourselves to be born anew. It is God’s power through His Holy Spirit in our lives that causes us to be born from above. We cannot be true Christians in the Biblical sense without God’s power. That is the fundamental doc­trine of grace.

The power to become children of God is not a one-time past exper­ience. Even at this very moment, long after we have been born anew, we continue to live as children of God by that same power.

Some people want to live as true Christians, but they fail miser­ably for lack of power. True Christianity becomes to them an unattainable ideal. We may sing the hymn “Oh, to be like Thee” in all earnestness, but can we attain it in practice? It is utterly futile to try to live the Christian life in one’s own strength. It will lead to a never-ending cycle of begging for forgiveness from dawn to dusk: “Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me.” This pitiful begging for forgive­ness is the result of being powerless to live the Christian life. Why would anyone want to live in constant failure?

There are some who even suppose that it is pious to spend the whole day begging for forgiveness. There is certainly a place for repentance and forgiveness, but is the Christian life not something more than this?

The fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace and so on—conveys a picture of spiritual abundance. But if our Christian life is an unending cycle of confession and receiving forgiveness, we are in effect saying to God, “You haven’t given me the strength to live the abundant life,” thus placing the blame on Him. Have we experienced the reality of the God-empowered life? Should we not be living a life that glorifies His name?

If we keep on asking for forgiveness, we are declaring one of two things. These are the only two logical possibilities; I can’t think of a third. Either we are unwilling to live as sons of God (in which case our salva­tion is in doubt) or we are unable to (in which case our salvation is also in doubt).

Are you unwilling or unable? If you are unwilling, how can you consider yourself a child of God? If you are unable, you need to receive God’s saving power into your life.

Of course no one is absolutely perfect in the present age. Occasionally we do things that are unbecoming of children of God. On such occasions we beg the Lord’s forgiveness. We failed because we were careless, not because God’s power was inadequate. God’s power was there all along, but we failed to draw from it.

In this generation there are multitudes of weak Christians who make no impression on the non-Christian world. The non-Christian sees the Christian as very ordinary. So he is justified in saying, “If Christians are like that, why should I become a Christian?” It is God’s life and power operating in us that draws people to His light. That power is given to us in regen­eration.

Have you become a new person in Christ? Do you live as a child of God who enjoys a certain sweetness of com­munion with God? I qualified the statement with “a certain sweetness” because we are still progressing in the Lord. The sweetness will become sweeter. Our Christian life might not yet be perfect in every detail, but it should have the quality that befits a child of God.

The power or authority that God gives us is real, and we can experience it. Either God is real or He is not. If He is not real, there would be no spiritual power to talk about. We could try to work up a psychological feeling or do things in our own strength, but that would be mere moral reform by human effort and has nothing to do with Biblical salvation.

But if God is real, then His power is available to us. People who have been born anew experience God’s sustaining power, and are conscious of His reality. They know that the power comes not from themselves but from God. If God is only a theoretical or a psychological abstraction to us, then we are still unregenerate. We cannot separate these three things: regeneration, God’s reality, and God’s power in our life.

All this is progressive. God will become more real to you as you experience more of His work in you and through you. As your eyes open wider, one day you may catch a vision like the one granted to Elisha and also to his servant (2 Kings 6.17). Surrounded by formidable and danger­ous enemies, they were given a vision of Yahweh God’s army and chariots of fire. Elisha, though he lived in the Old Testament era, sur­passed most Christians in terms of knowing the living God. If we are truly regenerate, we too will know God in a real way even if our knowledge of Him is still in its infancy.

Second Mark: Seeing the Kingdom of God

In John 3.3, Jesus says to Nicodemus, a prominent teacher of the Jews: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The positive form of this important statement is: If you are regenerate (born anew), you will see the kingdom of God.

The “kingdom of God” is the kingship of God. Everyone who is born anew sees God’s kingship even in this dark world where His kingship is hidden from the natural eye. The natural man looks here and there, but doesn’t see God’s kingdom. But the spiritual man, with eyes of faith, looks beyond the present situation and catches a vision of God’s kingship.

The Syrians were determined to capture the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 6.13) because they found him more exasperating than all the armies of Israel combined. How could one man stir up so much trouble for them? That was because Elisha knew everything that the Syrian king was discussing in his secret meetings (vv.8-9,12). That was why the king wondered, “How does Israel know our secrets?” His advisors told him that Elisha knew every word that the king spoke. That made him more dangerous than all the soldiers and chariots of Israel put together.

The Syrian army eventually tracked down Elisha and sur­rounded him. Early one morning, Elisha’s servant woke up and saw an army equipped with impressive horses and war chariots. There was no escape. The anxious “servant”[16] cried out to Elisha, “Alas, my mas­ter, what shall we do?” (v.15). Elisha told him, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha had complete peace of heart because he knew the living God. That kind of inner peace is beyond understanding—even irrational—to those who don’t know the kingship of the living God. Elisha prayed, “O Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes that he may see.” And what did his servant see? “Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (v.17). Yahweh God’s mighty army was there to ensure His servants’ safety.

Pontius Pilate, who exercised Roman imperial power over Judea, said to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” but Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above” (Jo.19.10-11). Jesus knew that his life was in his Father’s hands, not in Pilate’s. Pilate could do nothing to Jesus, not even touch a hair on his head, unless his Father permitted it.

If we profess to be born-anew Christians, can we see God’s kingship? In a world plagued by pollution, strife, economic instab­ility, and life-threatening diseases, where is God’s kingship to be seen? Yet he who is born of the Spirit sees the kingship of God.

The kingship of Yahweh God is the first and basic element of prophetic visions. Isaiah’s first vision was that of “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isa.6.1). It was a vision of God’s kingship. In verse 5 Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me … for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” That vision of the Lord as King dominated Isaiah’s prophetic ministry and pro­clamation. When lowly Israel was sur­rounded by great world powers—Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon—Isaiah surveyed the world situation and declared, “My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Elsewhere Isaiah proclaimed, “Your God reigns” (52.7; cf. 43.15, 44.6).

Jeremiah’s vision of God’s kingship is seen in these words: “Is Yahweh not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (Jeremiah 8.19)

The great prophet Daniel did not, however, use “King” as a title for Yahweh God. That was because the title “king of kings” was already appropriated by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2.37). As a result, Daniel felt that the title “king” had been devalued, and he sought an alternative. He therefore referred to Yahweh God with the greatest title of all: “The Most High” (six times in Daniel chapter 4 alone). Daniel was in effect saying to Nebuchadnezzar, “You may call yourself ‘the king of kings,’ but there is another title which is the highest by definition: ‘the Most High’. The Most High is higher than you, O ‘king of kings’”. In Daniel 5.18, Daniel refers to Belshazzar as “king” but refers to God as “The Most High God”.

The prophet Zechariah was content to use the title, “the King, the Lord of hosts” (Zech.14.17). Zephaniah spoke of “the King of Israel, Yahweh” (Zeph.3.15). We can go on and on through the prophets (e.g. Mal.1.14). Every prophet from Elisha to Isaiah, Jeremiah to Daniel, Zephaniah to Zechariah, saw Yahweh God as King.

Elisha’s vision of God’s kingship was so real that he was unimpressed with earthly kings and the great ones of this world. He said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? … As the Lord of hosts lives, whom I serve, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah (a godly king), I would neither look at you, nor see you” (2 Kings 3.13-14). The prophetic vision enables one to see God as the Most High, the real King of kings, who executes His counsels in the world. Likewise, those who are born again “see” the kingdom, or the kingship, of God. “Your God reigns” (Isa.52.7).

Do we have this vision too? Like Paul, we must look at eternal things, not at the things which are passing away (2Cor.4.18). If we see God’s kingship, our sense of values will be radically transformed; formerly it was focused on transient material things but now it is focused on what is spiritual and enduring.

Have you been born of the Spirit? Just take a look at your sense of values. Which is more important to you, the transient or the eternal? How do you look at your job, your career or your future in the world? What sense of values governs your decision-making? If you have been born anew, you would have a new sense of values through a transformed mind (e.g. Ro.12.2).

Third Mark: Controlled by the Spirit

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3.8).

One can understand the comparison with the wind if one knows that the word for “wind” and the word for “Spirit” are one and the same word in the original Greek text of John’s Gospel.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you cannot predict its direction. Everyone who has sailed a boat knows that the wind is erratic. He keeps an eye on the sail boom because it could sud­denly swing around and hit him on the head. Some people have drowned after being knocked into the water by the boom.

The wind blows where it wishes. The weather vane spins unpredictably with the blowing of the wind.

Then Jesus goes on to make a startling statement: “So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit—the Spirit “wind”—is sovereign in the world and carries out God’s purposes. The Holy Spirit acts according to God’s wisdom and power. God is not controlled by man; He moves this way or that way as He chooses.

God’s mind cannot be understood in human terms. His thoughts are above our thoughts. “Who has directed the Spirit of Yahweh, or as His counselor has instructed Him?” (Isa.40.13). “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” (Ro.11.34). We don’t know God’s mind, but regardless of how He deals with us, it is always our spiritual benefit that He has in mind.

The statement, “So is everyone who is born of the Spirit,” means that every regenerate person lives under the control of the Holy Spirit, and acts according to divine instruction. If we profess to be born of God, do we live under the Spirit’s control? If the Spirit tells you to go this way, do you go this way; or that way, and you go that way?

If you do, then you in turn become unpredictable and unintellig­ible to the natural man. He doesn’t understand you because the natural man doesn’t understand or accept the things of the Spirit, these being foolishness to him (1Cor.2.14). For that reason, neither can the natural man understand you if your life is controlled by the Spirit of God.

You may be having a great career and making good money when suddenly the Spirit intervenes, and you swing in the opposite direction. People are puzzled: “What’s happening with him? He quits his job and wants to serve God. He spends all his time reading the Bible instead of the magazines he used to enjoy.” The natural man cannot understand you because your life is guided by the Spirit of God.

But the spiritual man understands spiritual things. Therefore, if you are governed by the same Spirit that governs the spiritual man, he would understand you very well. That is why those who are gov­erned by the Spirit have one heart and one mind, for it is the same Spirit who moves in all of them. But where there is dis­harmony, there must be someone who is not being governed by the Spirit of God. That person will create disharmony in the church. When that situation arises, those who are entrusted with the welfare of the church must keep watch and intervene speedily.

Do you understand the things of God? Or is it the world that under­stands you very well? You have good reason to worry if the world under­stands you. But if the world doesn’t understand you, you can thank God for that. Perhaps you are now living under the control of the Spirit.

Does the world find you predictable? Do you go where the money or the reputation is? Are you attracted to money as bees are attracted to honey, or as cockroaches to garbage? That is why Christians have no witness in the world today. The non-Christians say to them, “You Christians are just like us. You pursue the things that we pursue, things such as money and status.” Non-Christians see nothing in this kind of Christian that challenges or convicts them. But if non-Christians react to you with wonder, or even hostility or confusion, that’s good! At least you are making an impact! At least the natural man finds you unpredictable and unintelligible—like the Spirit of God Himself.

Our Christian life ought to make the non-Christian say, “I don’t quite understand him. Why is he like that?” That’s a good sign! Now he is asking questions, and he may find an answer that could well lead him into God’s kingdom. Many people have entered His kingdom who were at first violently opposed to God, as was the case with the apostle Paul.

Is your life under the control of the Spirit of Yahweh God? If not, then there is no regeneration to talk about. Living a life governed by God is the mark of every man of God, indeed of everyone who is born of God.

During a busy itinerary in England, D.L. Moody, that great servant of God, was fully booked for evangelistic meetings. One big church invited him to speak at one of their meetings but he declined the invitation because he already had too many engagements. This church felt snubbed. “An invitation from our famous church is a great honor. We invited you but you turned us down.” At a board meeting one person stood up and said, “Since we invited Mr. Moody and he is not coming, I would suggest that he doesn’t have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. We can invite someone else.” Another brother stood up and asked the chairman, “May I say something?” The chairman said, “Yes, go ahead”. And he said, “I think the reason we invited Mr. Moody to preach here is not because he has a mono­poly on the Holy Spirit but because the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on him!

That expresses the essence of John 3.8. The wind blows where it wills, and so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit has a monopoly on this person, and he does whatever the Spirit tells him to do. Does the Holy Spirit have a monopoly on you? If yes, then you have been born anew, and you are walking with the living God.

Fourth Mark: Doing Righteousness

We come to the fourth point. I am proceeding according to the order in which regeneration is mentioned in the Johannine writings. 1 John 2.29 says, “If you know that God is right­eous, you know that everyone also who practices righteous­ness is born of Him”.

Again it is not hard to see the basic message: If God is righteous and if we are born of God, it follows that we will have His nature. Righteous­ness characterizes all His actions, so we too “practice righteousness”. “Like father, like son”, goes the saying. In the Greek, “practice (or, do) right­eousness” is in the present continuous tense, indicating ongoing activity.

What does it mean to “practice righteousness”? It is to do what is right in God’s eyes. God’s standard of righteousness is usually offen­sive to human thinking. Whether it offends us or not will depend on whether we ourselves are prac­ticing righteousness. When Stephen stood up and spoke the word of God in righteousness, his listeners covered their ears while shouting at him (Acts 7.57), and then stoned him to death, because his life was righteous and theirs were not.

To better understand the meaning of “practice righteousness,” let us consider Acts 10.35 where similar language is used: “But in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.” The whole chapter is an account of how God arranged for Peter to meet Cornelius, a God-fearing military officer, a centurion. This eventually led to a momentous event: Cornelius and his house­hold received the Holy Spirit. Later on, Peter had to explain to his fellow Jews why the Holy Spirit was given to Cornelius, a Gentile. In verse 34 he said, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality.” That is absolutely true, for God grants the Holy Spirit to Jews and to Gentiles without partiality. In verse 35 Peter explained further why God showed favor to Cornelius: “In every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.”

God accepts you and me not because we speak spiritual-sounding language or have some Bible knowledge, but because we do right­eousness. We do this not in our own strength but in God’s enabling power. In other words, God accepts you when you live according to the power He makes available to you. If you keep on saying, “Sorry Lord,” He may stop listening to you because you are not living according to the power He has given you.

God accepted Cornelius because he feared God and did right­eousness. What kind of righteousness did he do? Acts 10.3-4 gives the answer. An angel of God appeared to Cornelius in a vision, and called to him, “Cornelius!” Trembling with fear, Cornelius asked, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now dispatch some men to Joppa, and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter.”

We tend to think that when God deals with us, He must have some­thing bad in store for us. Why do we have this concept of God? He may talk to you in order to give you good news, even to tell you that your prayers and alms have ascended to God as a memorial before Him. How wonderful that would be!

Do we have a memorial in God’s presence? Cornelius’s memorial was the righteousness that he did. There is no reason to think that this situation is unique to Cornelius. The righteousness that you do will also stand as a memorial before God, reminding God of you and your deeds. Our God is a God who is concerned about our deeds, good or bad (cf. “I know your deeds” three times in Revelation 3 alone, verses 1,8,15). Would to God that we have more memorials up there, so that He may remember our deeds—and us!

If you want God to remember you, start building a memorial through prayers and almsgiving. Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Regiment, was a devout man who feared God together with his whole household. He gave much alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually (Acts 10.1-2). He gave alms to the poor with liberality, not being one to drop a miserly few coins into the charity box.

Giving to the needy is an impor­tant ministry of the people of God. It is a concrete expression of love and of prayer. On the spiritual level and on the practical level, Cornelius was not found wanting. A memorial of his deeds stood in God’s presence, and God sent the apostle Peter to Cornelius so that he and his household could receive the Holy Spirit.

As Cornelius did righteousness, so does every­one who is born of God. Every regenerate person will give liberally to the brothers and sisters who are in need. I thank God that a good number of people who have encour­aged my heart because of the practical and generous care they have given to people in need and to the Lord’s work. I have no doubts that they have a memorial before God.

But there is the other aspect: prayer. As God’s people we pray for one another, upholding one another not just mater­ially but also spiritually, not just spiritually but also materially. The two go hand in hand.

Fifth Mark: He Does Not Sin

For our fifth point, let us turn to 1 John 3.9, a verse that some people find difficulty with: “No one born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

In this generation, no verse is more important to emphasize than this one. Today many churches consider holiness as optional, unes­sential, and irrelevant to salvation. For this very reason we must proclaim the Biblical call to holiness with yet greater urgency.

The Scripture clearly says, “No one born of God commits sin.” These are startling words. Some people water down these words, but I don’t have that kind of “boldness”. I dare not water down or distort God’s Word. That statement is made without any ambiguity: “No one born of God commits sin.” When we are born of God, we will not sin deliberately or continuously.

Paul teaches the same thing, as we have seen. Romans 6 repeatedly says that we have been freed from the control of sin: we are no longer slaves to sin (v.6); he who has died is freed from sin (v.7).

If our lives show no evidence of holiness, it means that we haven’t become new persons even if we profess to be Christians. But when we are born anew, the new life in us causes us to lose the desire to sin, and we find ourselves no longer under compulsion to sin. When these two things are in place—no desire to sin and not being under compulsion to sin—is there any compelling reason for sinning? If not, it means that we can live in holiness.

It doesn’t mean that we have become absolutely sinless. Some people read the statement, “No one born of God commits sin,” to mean, “The one born of God is absolutely sinless.” The regenerate person is not perfectly sinless in the sense of being unable to sin. Was Adam sinless? He was sinless for a time, but only in the sense of not having com­mitted sin. He was not, however, absolutely sinless or absolutely perfect. The fact that he fell into sin proves it.

A newborn baby in the cradle has never sinned; is he not as sinless as Adam was? But the baby has the potential to sin insofar as he has flesh (just like Adam). As he grows up, sooner or later he will commit actual sin. The newborn baby, like Adam, has a body of flesh that inclines him to sin. So long as we are still in the flesh, we will be tempted to sin. We will never be absolutely perfect or sinless so long as we remain in this body of flesh. I have a body of flesh which is subject to temptation, and I am thereby capable of sinning.

He who is born of God can still sin if he chooses to sin, but he does not have to. If his new nature, which is empowered and governed by the Holy Spirit, is the dominant factor operating in his life, he cannot sin because, unlike our old nature, the new nature has no desire to sin, for it is God’s own nature in us (2Pet.1.4). It is important to understand this truth.

John says, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God”. God’s “seed” abides in us when we become new persons in Christ. A seed carries life; in this case, it is God’s life in us. God’s life is embodied in the divine nature implanted in us by His Holy Spirit.

A seed must grow, and it grows when provided the proper conditions. In 2Peter 1.4-8 we see this very thing with reference to the divine nature in us. Here we are taught to encourage the growth of this “seed” in us. If we follow these instructions, then, as summed up in verse 8, the qualities of the divine nature in us will be “increasing” (pleonazōπλεονάζω—the Greek word also means “growing” or “multiplying”), and we won’t be “unfruitful”.

Justification is not merely the declaration of righteousness whereby God forgives us. That is only one part of justification. The other part is God’s imparting His nature to us, making us righteous. Or, as in 1John 3.9, God’s implanted “seed” abides in us.

If we accept one part of the doctrine of justification but omit the other part, we will get into serious problems. The two must never be separated. God forgives us, but He also makes us righteous.

How does He do this? Precisely by giving us His Holy Spirit and putting His own nature in us. This is why the regenerate Christian can consistently triumph over sin. This makes the Christian life joyful and meaningful.

Sixth Mark: The Evil One Does Not Touch Him

We have something more to praise God for. The born-again Christian enjoys a two-fold protection against sin: an inward pro­tection and an outward protection. Internally, the true Christian has God’s nature and God’s Spirit. Externally, he is protected from the attacks of the evil one.

1 John 5.18 says, “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but he who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him”.

The first half of the statement is a reminder that the new man in Christ does not sin. The second half tells us that the Lord Jesus himself (“he who was born of God”) protects him from the devil. That is double assurance! Internally you have God’s righteous nature; externally you are protected by God Himself. He watches over you as the apple of His eye. Zechariah 2.8 says, “He who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.”

Why is Jesus here referred to as “he who was born of God”? That is because in this section, the true Christian or the new man in Christ is referred to as one who is “born of God”. Both Jesus and his disciples are “born of God”; they have this vital reality in common.

To be born of God is to be His son. Jesus was called “the Son of God” and believers are called “the sons of God”. The disciple shares the same nature with Jesus his Lord. The new man and his Lord are powerfully united in a strong bond. That is why Jesus will protect his redeemed ones as the apple of his eye!

God protects us day and night, physi­cally and spiritually. If it weren’t for His protection, I could have died on at least three occasions in the past two years. Yet each time He brought me through without injury, not even to a strand of hair on my head. I am sure that many of you have had similar experiences.

We need God’s protection because Satan seeks to destroy those who are born of God, just as he wanted to destroy the infant Jesus. But his machinations were foiled, for God safeguards His people phy­sically and spiritually. If it were not for God’s protection, Satan could have wiped us out many times over.

Seventh Mark: Love

1 John 4.7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” The true Christian exper­iences love flowing from his or her heart like a river of living water.

We reserve this important subject for a fuller discussion in a later chapter (Chapter 25).

Let God examine our hearts. Are we born of God? Are we Christians in the Biblical sense of the word? Do we know the living God? Are these seven marks of regeneration real in our lives?

 


[15] Exousia, έξουσία, means “power, authority to do a thing” also “abundance of means, resources”. A Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell, Scott, Jones; Oxford, 1973. Also, Arndt, Gingrich, and Bauer, A Gk-Eng. Lexicon of the NT: 1. “right to act,” 2. “ability to do something, capability, might, power,” 3. “authority”. It is clear that in giving us the right to become “children of God,” God did not just give us a name or a title, but with it the “power,” the “right to act” or to function, as children of God. We did not merely receive a name without the sub­stance. On the contrary, God supplied us with an “abundance of resources,” and therewith the “capability” to live as children of God.

[16] This almost certainly refers to a disciple who accompanied and attended to his teacher; the same Hebrew word (שׁרת, translated here in 2Ki.6.15 as “servant” in most English versions) is the word used of Elisha himself in relation to Elijah, 1Ki.19.21, and of Joshua in relation to Moses, Josh.1.1.

 

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