What Does it Mean to be Born Again?

What does it mean to be born again? The late bible teacher RA Torrey addresses this important subject in his book, Heaven or Hell.

What does it mean to be born again? A good definition is given in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The new birth is a new creation. It involves a radical transformation by the power of the Spirit of God in the depths of our beings. We receive a new will, new desires, and new thoughts. We were born with a perverted will, corrupted affections, and a blinded mind. By the power of the Holy Spirit, in regeneration, God transforms our wills, our affections, and our tastes. He transforms our way of looking at things.

Every man and woman by nature has a perverted will that is set on pleasing self. What pleases us may not be evil in itself. Perhaps we do not get drunk or swear or lie or do anything vicious or vulgar. But our minds are bent on pleasing ourselves.

When God, by His Spirit, imparts to us His nature and life, our wills are changed along with the whole purpose of our lives. Instead of pleasing self, our wills are surrendered to God, and we live to please Him. We may do a great many of the things we did before, but now we do them because they please God.

Our desires are corrupt by nature. We love the things we should not love and hate the things we should love. For example, many women love to read romantic novels more than they love to read the Bible. If a great many Christian women told the truth they would say, “I would rather read a good love story any day of the week than read the Bible.”

You love to go to nightclubs, which God hates. I don’t say God hates the people in the nightclubs-He loves them, but He hates the nightclubs. Perhaps you would rather go to the theater than to the gathering of God’s children. If you had your choice between going to a first-class opera or to a place where God’s Spirit was present in power, would you choose the opera? Would you go to a card party rather than to a quiet meeting of God’s people where they knelt down and prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

When God, through the power of the Spirit, gives you a new nature, you will love the Bible more than any other book in the world. You will love the places where God manifests Himself better than any places of worldly entertainment. You will love the company of God’s people better than you love the pleasures of this world. The beautiful thing is that in a moment of time, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, the change comes. New tastes and new desires take the place of old tastes and old desires.

All Things Become New

Nobody loves worldly entertainment more than I once did. I used to attend four to six dances a week. I played cards every day of my life except on Sundays. You could not pay me to do those things today. I would never go to a nightclub unless I went there to get some poor soul out. I love the things I once hated, and I hate the things I once loved. In those days, I would rather have read any novel than read the Bible. Today I have more joy in reading this Book than in any other book on earth. I love it. My greatest intellectual joy is to study the wonderful pages of this Book of God.

Many people are blind to the divine authority of the Bible. They believe all the nonsense that people try to tell them about the contradictions in it. When you are born again, your mind will be so in tune with the mind of God that you will believe everything His Word says, in spite of what others might say.

Some people cannot believe that Jesus took our sins in His own body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). The preaching of this doctrine is “foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor. 1:18). But when you are born again, the doctrine that the Son of God died on the cross of Calvary will be one of the sweetest doctrines to you in all the universe.

Being born again means having a new will set on pleasing God instead of pleasing self. You will have a new desire to love the things that God loves and to hate the things that God hates. Your mind and heart will believe the truth of God.

Have you been born again? If not, you are not saved. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

How can we tell whether we have been born again or not? “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29). If you have been born of God, you will do as God does. God does righteousness. If you are born of God, righteousness will be the practice of your life.

To do righteousness means to do the things that are right in God’s sight. A man who is born of God will study the Word of God to find out what God’s will is as revealed in His Word. When he finds out, he will do it. Are you studying the Word of God daily to find out what God wants you to do? When you find out what God wants you to .do, are you doing it?

“Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). That is, he does not make a practice of sin. To commit sin is to do something you know to be contrary to God’s will. The man of God will not, when he knows God’s will, disobey it. He may make mistakes. He may do something that he did not think was against God’s will. But when he learns that it was wrong, he will confess it as sin. Or he may be overtaken by a sudden temptation and fall. But as soon as he sees it, he will confess it. He will not go on day after day doing what he knows to be contrary to the will of God. Anybody who is making a practice of something that he knows is contrary to the will of God has reason to doubt whether he is born again.

A young man stopped me on the street and asked, “If a man is born again and lives and dies in sin, will he be saved?”

“Why,” I said, “a man who is born again will not live in sin. He may fall into it, but he will not stay there.”

Do you know the difference between a hog and a sheep? A hog will fall into the mud, and he will stay there. A sheep may fall into the mud, but he gets up as quickly as he can. Many people who we think are Christ’s sheep are only washed hogs. A hog that is washed will return to the mire, but a sheep will not stay in the mud. (See 2 Peter 2:22.)

If you are only outwardly reformed and externally converted, in a few weeks you will go back to your sin and your worldliness. You are only a washed hog. The person who is outwardly converted, but not inwardly transformed, will give up after a little while. But if you have been born again, you are transformed from a hog into a sheep, and you will never wallow in sin again.

You Cannot Be Born Again Without First Dying to Self

In an earlier article, I had touched on the importance of being born again as a condition for inheriting eternal life (Proof text — John 3:3 [NLT; with emphasis mine]: “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.””). Now, let me show you what it means to be born again.

However, a person cannot be born again, unless he/she first dies:

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3; New American Standard Bible; emphasis mine)

You might ask, “What do you mean to say that I must die? Are you asking me to commit suicide?

No! (and God forbid that you attempt suicide!) It is to self that you must die of, as the Aramaic Bible in Plain English version of Colossians 3:3 makes clear: “For you have died to yourselves and your lives are hidden with The Messiah in God.” (emphais mine)

The specifics of what this entails is detailed for us further in the chapter:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10; NIV)

In addition, you need to die to the things of this world:

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2; ESV)

But you might protest and say: “What you ask is very difficult to do!

Indeed, it is, which is exactly why the Lord Jesus Christ told those who wished to be His disciple to “count the cost“:

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-33; Authorised KJV; emphasis mine)

Washing and “Renovation” of the Inner Person (Titus 3:5)

In April this year, The New Paper reported of an elderly couple living in Eunos, Singapore, where the wife hoards things, and every night, her husband has to sleep on a sofa surrounded by mountains of newspapers, bags of leftover food and piles of plastic bottles.

New Paper photo of Eunos hoarder Source:  The New Paper website

This elderly couple’s home is so dirty that it is infested with cockroaches, and in the photograph below, the husband gamely presents some dead cockroaches.

New Paper photo of Eunos hoarder_2

Source: The New Paper website

Fortunately, agencies within the government eventually stepped in and helped the couple to clean up their home.

Cockroahd-infested flat being cleaned up_Straits Times_8May2015

Besides a major washing, perhaps this couple’s home could do with some renovations.

Do you know that the bible also speaks of washing and ‘renovation’, albeit of the inner person?

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5, NASB; emphais mine)

The Douay-Rheims bible translates this verse as “…he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost” (emphasis mine).

So, the bible tell us that inner man needs washing and renovation, just as a dilapidated, cockroach-infested house is also in need of it. The bible also tells us that washing and renovation is necessary for a person to get saved (“…He saved us through…”; Titus 3:5, NIV). If a person is not saved, he/she is earmarked for destruction, just as old unrestorable houses would.

With regards to the “washing”, this is also what is known as the second birth (see International Standard Version translation of Titus 3:5) or rebirth (see New International Version translation of Titus 3:5), or what Christians commonly refer to as being born again (please see my earlier post entitled ‘What Does It Mean to Be Born Again‘).

However, the “washing” alone is insufficient. A person who professes belief in Jesus Christ needs to constantly allow the Holy Spirit to renew his/her nature (see Weymouth New Testament tranlsation of Titus 3:5) — and herein lies the problem for many believers; they resist the Holy Spirit’s attempts to renew them, or in other words, perform renovation on their lives.

In Singapore, many of us look forward to renovations performed on our homes, because we know that our standard of living can be vastly improved upon its completion. Similarly, let us not resist the renovation of the Holy Ghost (see Douay-Rheims translation of Titus 3:5) in our lives.

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? Chew Chor Meng and His Born Again Experience

The Lord Jesus Christ said that those who wished to inherit eternal life must be born again (John 3:3).

However, many have wondered what it means to be born again.

The born-again experience is a wonderful, supernatural experience in which a person’s nature undergoes a drastic change (in particular, old sinful habit get removed), and as a result of the change (and as the name ‘born again‘ implies), it is as if the person has become a ‘new person‘ or has become ‘reborn‘.

T.V. celebrity, Chew Chor Meng, shared about his born again experience in the short Youtube video clip below where he said that, without his realisation, he had lost the desire to swear (and to get angry easily) and to gamble (a pastime that he had enjoyed in the past).

It is important to note that the disappearance of these bad habits did not come by self-control or self-will (indeed, he was not conscious of the lost of his old bad habits until a colleague had mentioned it to him, leading to him suddenly becoming very alarmed and seeking advice from his good friend, Rayson Tan). Chew’s bad habits disappeared because of the amazing work and power of the Holy Spirit in his life, even though he was not aware of it.

Friend, are your bad habits destroying your life and the happiness of your family? To effectively get rid of your bad habits, you need to be born again, which can be obtained through prayer (that is, talking to God):

“Lord Jesus Christ, I confess to You my bad habits [name them specifically], and I wish to be born again. I now surrender my life to You, and ask that You please change me and make me new. Amen.”

If you have said this prayer aloud, and your heart has been sincere about wanting to be born again — congratulations! Like a seed that is planed into the ground, this prayer marks the beginning of new life in you, although you may not notice it immediately (but for some people, it happens a lot sooner).

Now, just as the seed that is pushed into the ground needs to be watered and nurtured for it to grow up strong and healthy, likewise, this new life that has begun in you can only thrive through regular prayer and reading of the bible.

If you need further advice on being born again, I’d love to help you, so please do not hesitate to reach out to me by clicking the ‘Leave a comment’ link beneath the title, and write “Please contact me” in the ‘Leave a Reply’ box that appears next. God bless you!

How to Inherit Eternal Life

The bible teaches us that to inherit eternal life, we need to take the following 4 steps:

Step 1:   Believe in Jesus Christ

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:40, NIV)

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31, NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved… for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13, NIV)

Step 2:   Repent / forsake all your sins

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32, NIV)

But unless you repent, you too will all perish. (Luke 13:3b, NIV)

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-38, NIV)

Step 3:   Be baptised

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-38, NIV)

Step 4:   Lead a pure life (by constantly yielding to the Holy Spirit)

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7, NIV)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22, NIV)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8, NIV)

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3:15, NIV)

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5, NIV)

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:19-24, NIV)

Will Christians Go to Heaven if They Keep on Sinning

Sorry to say this, but the answer is “no”.

People who claim to be Christians, but who persist in their pet sin(s), are not true believers. True followers of Jesus Christ simply do not make a practice of sinning:

We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. (1 John 5:18, NLT)

The bible warns that there are many who fellowship within church walls, but whose conduct exposes them to be really enemies of Christ, and whose destiny is damnation:

For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction (Philippians 3:18-19a, NLT)

The bible warns us not to be deceived, that a person (regardless of whether he/she professes to be a Christian) will reap what he/she sows, and that those who sows to please their flesh will reap destruction:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8, NIV)

It is therefore important for the disobedient Christian to stop sinning, to put off the old self, and to put on the new one:

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24; NIV)

How to Know If Someone Truly Believes in Jesus Christ

A young man confessed to a young lady that he had been her secret admirer, that he loved her and hoped for an opportunity to advance their relationship.

The young lady admitted that she also had feelings for him, but wanted to be sure that he truly loved her.

What followed next were bouquets of flowers, gifts and countless of love letters that were sent by the young man to the young lady’s home.

Belief, just as love, is intangible; it’s reasonable for the individual (or even God) to require proof of its genuineness.

To that end, how can one know if someone truly, genuinely believe in Jesus Christ?

The major hallmark of the individual who genuinely believes in Jesus Christ is that he/she is born again (i.e. born of God):

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (1 John 5:1, NIV; emphasis mine)

And what does it mean to be born again? It means to take on the new divine nature, and to as if one has become a new person:

 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)

There are three major hallmarks of those who truly believe in Jesus Christ, and who are born again:

1. They do not make a practice of sinning

We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. (1 John 5:18, NLT)

2. They overcome the world (as opposed to being enamoured by it)

for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4, NIV)

3. They have love for fellow believers

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7, NIV)

Overall, although belief is intangible, it can be proven. It is like the wind — although it cannot be seen, it can be felt (and indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ used that analogy to explain those who had truly believed and been born again).