9 Characteristics of the New Life

What Does It Look Like to Be Born Again?

By Charles F. Stanley
  • May 23, 2018
  1. It’s a spiritual experience. The new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He convicts us of sin and helps us understand that our good works are insufficient in His eyes and will never make us fit for heaven. But He also assures us of God’s love and leads us to confess and repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.

  1. It’s a definite experience. Like physical birth, there’s a specific point at which a person is born again. It starts with conviction of sin and the realization that Jesus Christ died on the cross as payment for the penalty for our sin. We call out to Him for forgiveness, turn away from our old sinful lifestyle, and in faith accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. It’s not a slow process but a radical change. There must be a transformation within our hearts that is so clear that we will know beyond a shadow of doubt that we have been born again. For some people, this moment may have occurred in childhood and they may no longer have a specific memory of it. Or, they may have been born again as an adult but may not have understood what was happening at the time. But as long as there is full faith in Jesus, they have been born again.

  1. Jesus is the only one who can make us fit for heaven with a new birth. All other religions rely on good works, but no one can be good enough for God because we’ve all sinned against Him. We may seem righteous in our own eyes, but when measured against the perfection of God’s standards as found in His Word, we have no hope of heaven.

  1. We are not saved by our righteous acts but by God’s mercy and the regeneration of the Spirit (Titus 3:5). If we could be good enough, then the cross was a horrible mistake because it would have been unnecessary. However, only the shed blood of God’s Son could make forgiveness possible. This is the evidence of God’s awesome love and power—that He would reach down and save sinners.

  1. It’s a lasting experience. Being born again changes us forever, but this doesn’t mean that we will be perfect. Our old sinful nature is still present in us, but as we confess our sins, Jesus’ blood continually cleanses us. We are now called to a life of holiness, obedience, surrender, and love for God. There must be external evidence that proves there’s been an inner transformation.

  1. There’s a change in our relationship with God. Until Jesus becomes our Savior, we are enemies of God. Although we may be quick to deny that we are against Him, there is no neutral ground. We have either been reconciled to God through His Son, or we are at odds with Him.

  1. There is a change in our position. The separation and enmity between God and us has been removed. Now we’re a part of His kingdom and members of His family. Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and we will never lose our salvation.

  1. There’s a change in attitude. The Holy Spirit works in us, sealing us as God’s children, transforming our hearts, and living out Christ’s life through us. He gives us wisdom, reveals truth, and guides us throughout our lives.

  1. There is a change in our destination. Jesus said, “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). The Holy Spirit’s presence in us is our guarantee that we are forever children of God, and our eternal destiny in heaven is secure.

If you are born again, what fruit in your life gives you reassurance of that? How has your life changed? Reflect on the goodness and love of God in your life and give Him praise for the saving work He has done for you.

This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “What Is the Meaning of Being Born Again?” which airs this weekend on TV.

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5 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,

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

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