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Rebirth

The Christian’s new life should begin with an understanding of what has taken place within him as a person. Scripture tells us that first, he was chosen: Christians were chosen by God before He created the world:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Eph. 1:4)

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;  that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Pet. 2:9).

This shows us something of the significance of that choice. Christians are called out of the darkness of this world into the marvelous light of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). They need no longer stumble about in the darkness of their former ignorance but are now able to discern and appreciate God’s truth. They are chosen persons that are all priests; i.e. in direct, personal touch with God; they are a holy nation and a totally new and radically different kind of people. They should show the world, by the kind of life they live what God has done for them. They are the seed of the woman that God spoke of in the Garden; they are the new, born-again humanity in Christ.

Second, every one of these chosen persons is remade into a new creature:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor 5:17)

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (Gal. 6:15)

This is a sweeping transformation, one so great that it can only be described as a change in nature. They retain the same outward appearance but are so different inwardly that God sees them as new creatures. They are the same as others externally but, because of the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, they are radically different inwardly.

It is all too easy to minimize the force of these passages, especially in an environment that has already minimized much of the power of Scripture. All too commonly, Christians play down the significance of this change. “All things” becomes “some things” and soon is demoted to “a few things.” A “new creature” becomes a “changed person” and then, a person with a “new outlook.” This tendency to detract from God’s declaration is sinful; it demeans God’s word and seriously limits the Christian impact on the world. The believer that has a realistic appreciation of the vast difference between him and unbelievers, is a far more dedicated and powerful influence on his surroundings than one that lacks this appreciation.

This new creature though, is new only in principle. He is still a sinner that has yet to go through a life-long process of sanctification and development as a world-changer for Christ. He is a diamond in the rough with great potential but he doesn’t yet have a sense of how great it might be and how useful his contribution could become. These new creatures still need to develop and mature in their newness of being.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world:  but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:1-2)

Reasonable service! we are saved for a reason, not because God saw something good in us but rather something he wanted us to accomplish in His name. The true Christian is very different from what he was before. The difference though, is not immediately visible or apparent. It is potential and needs to be developed, which requires effort. They are told here that it is reasonable for them to so completely dedicate their lives that it is described as presenting themselves as living sacrifices to God. This dedication begins with a deep desire, first to hear and understand God as He speaks in Scripture and then to obey Him.