Many of us know we were born again after repeating words after a preacher, during a crusade or church service. But how do we explain the realities of susceptibility to sin, which sometimes even lead us to question our faith? What really happened to us when we got born again? This article will expose us to the misconceptions and truths about our salvation.
What did not happen
Our bodies didn’t change. Our biological bodies did not change when we got saved. If you were short, you remained that way. If you were tall, short, kinky-haired, blonde, slender, big, dark-skinned, light-skinned, or coloured, you realize that none of that changed. God created us with bodies (Genesis 1:26-27) that, except for external occurrences like accidents or other forms of harm, remain the same as when we were physically born. Our bodies are not meant to experience any change just because we are born again.
Nothing was deleted. Unlike computers or other tech gadgets, the human mind has no delete button that can, for example, erase everything we did in the past. As a result, even though we get saved, some old ways of thinking, attitudes, and other things that we engaged in and had adverse effects on our lives will remain with us. Our minds have the power to hold things we indulge in, such as thoughts and memories. Stuff we watch on TV or in movies stays in our minds because the mind holds them in. Hence, we are called to be transformed in the mind (Romans 12:2) and also to guard our minds (1 Peter 1:13-16). Paul reminds us that we need not let sin reign over our mortal bodies (Romans 6:12-23, Colossians 3:5). Why would he say that to already regenerated people if their bodies were changed at salvation? Paul understands that our bodies still have the same tendencies. However, we have been given the power to fight sinful dispositions. Therefore, Paul exhorts us to ensure that we do not continue giving ourselves (our members) to the wicked ways we had known before salvation.
Sin did not die. Just because we are born again does not mean that sin and its tendencies have stopped pursuing us (John 8:34, Romans 6:16, Colossians 3:7, Ephesians 2:1-4). The reality of sin is seen in the fact we still get tempted to submit to our old ways. We would only qualify the death of sin if we were never drawn to sinful practices. But we are tempted every day; therefore, we know sin is alive. As believers, we need to be reminded that our temptations point to the existence of evil. You and I will be tempted because sin is still with us!
We received a new heart and spirit. The prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36:25-27) promised a time when God would give us a new heart in contrast to the one we had without God (Jeremiah 17:9). The exchange is not necessarily physical but rather an internal transformation that miraculously happens by the grace and power of God. Jesus said it is out of this heart (Matthew 15:19-20) that proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, and other forms of wickedness.
When this miracle happens, there is a change of behaviour. 1 Samuel 10:1 says that Saul changed when the Spirit of God entered him. He moved from being an average nobody to the King of Israel–the power of God transformed his entire outlook. The hearts of sinful humanity are so hardened that we cannot even seek God on our own (Romans 3:11), and that’s why Jesus said no one could come to Him unless the Father first draws him (John 6:44). We desperately need new hearts. A change of heart toward God requires a supernatural transformation. Jesus called it being “born again” (John 3:3). Therefore, the spirit of a man is the centre of one’s thought, reason and motivation. The new spirit is the spirit of God given to man that causes him to be responsive to the work of God. When we got born again, God gave us a new heart and spirit, making us able to obey the commands of God and his desires. Today we can (if we are born again) do all that God requires of us because he has given us the ability by His Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:15-18).
We received a new Master. After God performs this miracle in us, he becomes our new Master. A master is a ruler or leader of another–this subject pays homage and ascribes honour and worship. Before being saved, we were under an evil master–the devil (Ephesians 2:1-3, John 8:44, 1 John 3:8). Our desires and longings were all guided by satan in the sense that all we ever did was in line with what he wanted (regardless of how well-meaning they were). But now we have a new Master, Jesus, our Lord. Paul emphasizes this in Romans 6:15-22 when he cites the truth that we are slaves of the one we obey, either sin, which leads to death, or obedience, which leads to righteousness. In the proceeding verses, he also points to the fact that, after salvation, we have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God. Slaves, not as if God is pushing things down our throats and bossing over us, but rather that God is the one to whom our allegiance belongs; and because he is a benevolent Father and gracious to lead us in love and not bondage! Therefore, we have a responsibility to resist the evil desires that the flesh, the world and the devil bring our way.
We became a new creation. An essential aspect of our faith is the truth that we are new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us as much. Paul in Galatians 2:20 says that our life is by faith and that Christ lives it out in us. The newness is, first of all, an integral matter, expressed in our lives in the way we live, the attitudes we carry and even the way we carry ourselves around. For example, a life of obedience to parents, sincerity in relationships, faithfulness in marriage, and finances, is an excellent testament to the power of the gospel at work in us. And basically, what happened is that Christ, by his death on the cross and resurrection- caused in us an eternal and spiritual transformation. Though my body did not change, my heart and attitudes changed, and there is evidence of how I live my life and how now I’m not fond of the dishonourable things I used to love before salvation.
I walk in the fulness of these truths by applying them in my life by faith. The more I value the truth that my life changed, the more I want to live life as a transformed person. Knowledge is power, and knowing what the Son did when he set us free will walk us towards a joyful sanctification journey. We are new creations in Jesus Christ; he transforms us daily into his image and likeness (Colossians 3:9-10). May we live as so.