What takes place the moment we believe in the Lord Jesus? We know that something life-changing occurred, but what really happened?
1. We were born again (Jn. 3:5-6; I Pet. 1:23)
At the moment of believing, God imparted to us divine life. In the Bible, this is called “regeneration” “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). The seed of the gospel was planted in our mind (Lk. 8:11). The Holy Spirit used that Word to bring conviction and persuasion of the truth (Jn. 16:8-11). When we believed, the Holy Spirit activated the Word and the new birth took place (Jas. 1:18; I Pet. 1:23). Regeneration is described as God’s work of creation “that in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24). The Scriptures also teach:“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who has created him” (Col. 3:9-10).
2. We became a new person in Christ
The “Old Man” refers to the person we were before we were born again. We were “slaves of sin” (Jn. 8:34; Rom. 6:20). We had a sin nature (Eph. 2:3). When Adam disobeyed God, he took to himself an evil disposition that was no longer favorable toward God. This evil nature is passed to all men in all generations. This explains why Paul wrote in Romans 8:7, “…the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God.” David wrote in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” At the moment of faith in Christ, we were born again or created a “New Man.” The new man is the saved or regenerated person. We are no longer slaves of sin (Rom. 6:17, 18, 20, 22) although the believer still has the old disposition. Romans 7:14-25 and Galatians 5:16-25 confirms this! We received a new nature. I John 3:9 tells us that this new disposition is called “His seed.” We still have the tendency to sin but we also have a favorable disposition toward God that motivates us to want to obey. This explains the struggle we have in the Christian life.
Having a new nature does not automatically ensure we will live a godly or fruitful life. For this reason, we are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19). We will still be tempted to sin, but as we depend on the Holy Spirit, He enables us to resist the temptation (Gal. 5:16). Becoming a new person in Christ does not mean there were any physical changes in us. We still have the same body with all its physical members.
There are no metaphysical changes either. Our personality and our temperament is still the same. There are no DNA changes. We have the same mind and the same IQ.
Laying aside the “Old Man” and putting on the “New Man” are completed realities for the believer. Paul adds an important truth in the Ephesians passage. We are to be “renewed in the spirit of the mind.” The spirit of man seems to refer to the regenerated human spirit which uses man’s mind as its instrument. Our God-consciousness, being made alive in Christ, governs our mental life, which in turn controls our actions.
As a new man in Christ the believer is to put away the characteristics of the old man i.e. those sins which were true of us before our regeneration. So, what took place the moment we believed? God supernaturally imparted to us His Life and made us new men in Christ!
About Charles Fizer