The Effect of the New Birth
by James Smith, 1860
Real religion is of God, making us like God, and so preparing us to dwell forever with God.
It begins in regeneration,
is carried on in sanctification, and
is consummated in glorification.
Real religion sets the heart against sin, and will ultimately free us from the very indwelling of sin. It is distinguished from all its counterfeits, in that it gives sin no quarter, nor allows the believer to make the least excuse for sin. It is strikingly set forth by the Apostle John, when he writes, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1 John 3:9.
The New Birth.This is of God. Of God alone. Hence we are said to be born from above — born again — born of the Spirit. It is a change of nature — not merely a change of opinion, or a change of feeling, or even a change of conduct. A new, a spiritual, a divine nature is imparted; so that we become new creature, and are a new creation, created anew in Christ Jesus, unto good works. It is a change from death to life, from darkness to light, from sin to holiness. Its design is to fit us for the service of God on earth, to equip as well as to do the will of God here, and then to enjoy the presence and blessedness of God in heaven.
The EFFECT of the New Birth."No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." Sin is not his element, as before; it is not his trade or business, as it was once; he is not its servant, or slave. Sin annoys him, troubles him, and at times overcomes him — but it does not rule him. He can say with Paul, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
He may fall into sin, as David did — but he will
not live in sin — but repent of it, and rise above it. He may fall
more than once as Peter did — but like Peter he will weep and be restored.
He is not sinless, for as James testifies, "We all stumble in many ways."
But he . . .
flees from sin,
mourns over sin,
prays and strives against sin,
renouncing it, and refusing to acknowledge it as his, because he does not act freely in it. As the Apostle said, so does he, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it!" Romans 7:15-20
The Reasons Assigned for Not Continuing to Sin."No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." This is called "the root of the matter," — "the incorruptible seed that lives and abides forever" — "the engrafted word," — "the grace of God."
It is that divine principle imparted in regeneration, which is powerful, active, and immortal.
It enlightens us to see our duty and avoid evil;
it furnishes us with motives for the performance of all good works;
and it regulates the conscience, keeping it clean and tender.
"He is born of God." Therefore his nature is divine, for
that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit. The new nature in the believer
is holy, even as God is holy; and it leads us . . .
to love holiness,
to sigh for holiness, and
to strive to be holy in body, soul, and spirit.
His object now is God's glory; as therefore God is dishonored by sin — he avoids it, shrinks from it, and fights against it. And as God is honored by holiness — he seeks to be holy in thought, word, and deed.
His way is holiness. In this path he walks, pressing forward in it, keeping his eye upon its end, which is perfect holiness.
His fellowship is spiritual, and therefore holy. He walks in fellowship with spiritual people here below, the living members of Christ's church; and he continues in fellowship with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
His mark is heaven. There all are holy, and as his heart is set upon it; and he lives in daily preparation for it. Let us beware then of mistaking the meaning of God's word, or we shall bring our souls into bondage and distress. Let us beware of indulging in any sin — for he who indulges in sin, and lives in sin — is not born of God, nor can he have a good hope of glory.
Reader, are you born of God? How do you feel toward sin and sinful company? Are you like a fish out of water, when in company with the ungodly? Do you feel at home with saints, and especially happy with them, when, saint-like, their conversation is savory and spiritual? The Holy Spirit always makes those holy, in whom he dwells. The grace of God that brings salvation, teaches us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts — we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world. Nor can we have any assurance of a title to heaven — but as sin is dethroned within us — and holiness becomes our element and delight. Blessed Spirit, teach me so to live, that I may prove to all around me that I am born of God, by avoiding sin; and may I prove that because the seed of God is in me, I cannot live in sin.