The way of salvation and regeneration
All men inherited a sinful nature. God’s way of salvation is by “sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin.” His Son is without sin, so He alone is able to save. But as He also has the likeness of the sinful flesh of man, so that He can be made “a sacrifice for sin” (Rom. 8:3); this is the work of the cross. The Lord came to the world, took on the likeness of the flesh of sin, and wholly identified Himself with all fleshly men. So, when He died on the cross, all fleshy men were judged to have received punishment for their sins in Him. Accordingly, as the Head of the new race, He included all sinners in Him in suffering the punishment.
The fleshly men who were to receive the punishment now have in Him a sacrifice for sin. It was for sin that He died. Thus, God made the sinless become sin on our behalf. When the Lord Jesus died, He died in the flesh, “being put to death in the flesh” (1Pet. 3:18). When He died in the flesh, the sins borne by His flesh were crucified with Him. This is what is meant by “condemned sin in the flesh.” To condemn means to judge or to punish. The judgment and punishment for sin is death. What is meant here is that He put sin to death in the flesh. It can, therefore, be seen that when the Lord Jesus died, He not only died as a sacrifice for sin, suffering the punishment on behalf of men, but He also brought sin under punishment. As sin was condemned in the flesh of him who is joined to the Lord’s death, sin no longer has the power to harm him.
God’s salvation, which saved people from the deserved punishment of the flesh and the power of the flesh, was accomplished in the cross of His Son. Therefore, when a man believes that the Lord Jesus died for him and receives the Lord Jesus to be his personal Saviour, God gives him a new life, that is, His own uncreated life. This is what the Bible calls regeneration. God does not change our flesh; rather, He gives His life to us. This regeneration is a relationship of real birth between man and God. Just as our fleshly body is surely born of our parents, so our spiritual life is also surely born of God. The meaning of giving birth is “to impart life.” Therefore, to say we are born of our parents, we also received our spiritual life at the time we were born of God.
When we believe in the Lord Jesus, God puts His own life into our spirit and resurrects our spirit. Therefore, the Lord said, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). It is at this moment that the life of God, which is “the Spirit” referred to here, enters into our human spirit and causes our spirit to recover its position. From this point on, the Holy Spirit abides in the human spirit. Therefore, man is transferred into the spiritual realm.
The condition for man to be regenerated is not that he has to do a special work, but that he must believe in the Lord Jesus as Saviour. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Those who believe in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour are born of God; they are the children of God.
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