16. Relevance of rebirth.(Part 5 of the born again series.)

‘Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17) The relevance of rebirth cannot be understated because it ushers in the most profound change within a person, to the extent that the Bible calls them a ‘new creation’. So what is new in us who are born again? Definitely our bodies are still the same even after the rebirth experience. However, the Bible assures us that a day is coming, when these bodies of ours will be transformed – ‘in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye …’ because  ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God …’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:50-52) ‘Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.’ (Philippians 3:20-21) The deposit of the Holy Spirit in those who are born again is the guarantee that this would happen to them. ‘Having believed you have been marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.’ (Ephesians 1:13-14)

If not our bodies, then what is new in us who are born again? Definitely, our spirits are still the same but the Holy Spirit has begun within us a process of renewal which has eternal significance, because it not only transforms our minds now and will transform our bodies later, at his coming. ‘He has saved us through the washing of rebirth ( by the blood) and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he has poured on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour…’ ( Titus 3:5-6) Since the process of renewal is ongoing, the Bible exhorts us to continually ‘put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.’ (Colossians 3:10) Paul testified to this daily process of renewal in his life when he wrote :‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’  ( 2 Corinthians 4:16) 

So, to the question, what is new in us who are born again, the relevant answer would be that we received the ‘mind of Christ’. Definitely, our souls (the seat of our mind, will and emotions) are the same but it has experienced a dramatic change (Greek: metanoia means ‘change of mind’, repentance, the state of changing any or all the elements composing one’s life: attitudes, thoughts and behaviour concerning the demands of God for right living.) ‘Man without the Spirit cannot accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned … But we have the mind of Christ.’ ( 1 Corinthians 2:14,16) The reason for this assertion is the fact that our minds are now controlled by the Holy Spirit and therefore we have an attitude of mind that was also found in Christ. ‘The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law nor can it do so … you however are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.’ (Romans 8:6-9  The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to ‘be transformed by the renewing of our minds’ (Romans 12:2) Therefore we are admonished ‘to be made new in the attitude of our minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.’ ( Ephesians 4:23) Another reason for the assertion that those who are born again have received the ‘mind of Christ’ is because they are able to discern everything and make right judgements. ‘We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us … The spiritual man makes judgement about all things but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgement.’ ( 1 Corinthians 2:12,15)

As a disciple of Christ, Paul had this attitude towards his fellow men : ‘For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a wordly point of view. Though we once  regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’. ( 2 Corinthians 5:14-17) Do we lack the mind to forgive others inspite of us believing in Christ or do we rake up other’s past,  inspite of them believing in Christ? If so, we haven’t received the ‘mind of Christ’ and our ‘Rebirth’ is questionable! The evidence of rebirth is in our reconciliation with God and men. Many would reconcile with God but will not reconcile with men, though it is expected of them. ‘Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ ( Colossians 3:13) This has become the ‘gold standard’ by which a believer will be measured and if found lacking, this would be what God has to say, on that day : “You wicked servant … Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured … ) “This is how the heavenly Father will treat each one of you unless you forgive from your heart!” (Matthew 18:33-35) We risk being left behind at Rapture, if we are alive at his return or risk being left behind in Hades at the first resurrection, if we die before his return. So it is not optional to forgive but mandatory that we forgive others just as he has forgiven us. 

Not only were we renewed  in attitude towards others but also in our attitude towards God and even concerning our bodies. It is impossible to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ towards God if we persist in unbelief. So the Bible requires that ‘we live by faith and not by sight.’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:7) ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’ (Hebrews 10:38 / Habakkuk 2:4) Moreover, our attitude towards our bodies is revealed in our refusal to defile ourselves. ‘Daniel resolved not to defile himself with royal food and wine’ ( Daniel 1:8) because it was offered to the Babylonian gods as sacrifices. Our rights over our bodies should not end up denying God’s rights over our bodies. The slogan : ‘My body, my choice’ goes against the tenets of Christianity because the word of God says: ‘The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord and the Lord for the body … Therefore honor God with your body.’ ( 1 Corinthians 6:13-20)

Attitudes of our renewed minds match up quite well with what was said early in the article titled ‘Three evidences of rebirth’ – (Part 2 of this series). A ‘fervent heart’ is matched by an ‘attitude of gratitude’, an ‘opened mind’ is matched by an ‘attitude of forgiveness’ and a ‘sanctified body’ is matched by an ‘attitude of consecration’. We live in an age when spiritual words and concepts have come to mean different things, a far cry from what it was meant to be! A ‘watered down’ version of rebirth, which unduly emphasizes water baptism over the inner experience, has shifted the focus away from the true meaning of rebirth. All who are born again have essentially had a Pentecostal experience but not all Pentecostals are born again. As for those who are born again, let ‘your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus …‘ (Philippians 2:5) for you have the ‘mind of Christ’. Amen.

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