Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Characteristics of the born again

We may say we believe in Jesus, think we are saved by reason of being born again (“second birth” ) but do we really live our belief?  Do our thoughts and deeds AND how we live life, evidence our belief? Are we really born again? H.A Ironside’s summary of 1 Peter 2* provides a great checklist. Here it is (paraphrased and expanded):-
(a)    Do we lead a pure life? Do we lead  life as “aliens” and “temporary residents” or “strangers” and “pilgrims” of this world, abstaining from fleshy desires that are contrary to God’s Word? (v 11);

(b)   Do we act and speak with honesty? (v12) (Nevermind that you did not murder or commit adultery but did you commit the “accepted”  (“everybody does it therefore it is acceptable” sins? Did you return the change over paid by the cashier? Did you pop that grape in your mouth without paying? Did you toss that sweet wrapper out on the road? Did you “cheat” company time? Did you say “my kid is under 3 so no charge” when your kid is over 3 years of age? Did you say “tell him I am busy, cannot come to the phone” when you are not?); 

(c)    Do we obey the law? (v 13-15). We may be free from human law because we are God’s and subject to His authority but we have no license to use our freedom to disobey the law (Paid taxes? Created faked tax deductable receipts?). We are freed from human law but made subject to God’s law which requires obedience to human law! We obey for Him (v 16);

(d)   Do we revere God and consider other men in our everyday thought, choice and action? Do we love especially our sisters and brothers in Christ?(v17);

(e)   Are we obedient to our employers? Nasty and nice ones. (v18). I would say obedience to the nasty ones makes us different. Non believers and believers alike have little issue with obedience to the nice ones;

(f)     Are we patient under false accusation? (v20) Do we trust God to vindicate us? Holding back our impulse to retaliate or to react or to fret and fester or better yet having no such impulse arising at all, resting in God entirely;

(g)    Do we follow Christ? (v21-23) Do we hold Him up as our “idol” worshipping Him, adoring, admiring, praising Him?;

(h)   Do we consider ourselves dead to sin because of His death and are living in righteousness? (v24) Not that we will not sin but that when we sin we are quick to be contrite and to repent;

(i)      Do we see Him as our shepherd (our authority, our Lord) and live accordingly and submit ourselves to His care ? (v25- He is guardian of our souls).
The Holy Spirit who lives in the new born enables the new born to manifest living a pure life, acting and speaking honestly and so on. It is because one is truly Christian that pure living emerges. One does not do good to become a Christian.  I add that the Holy Spirit also ignites in this new person a desire to seek God, spend time with Him and please Him. This new person gets interested in knowing what He has to say by studying His Word, particularly studying Our Lord Jesus ( He is the image of the invisible God  Colossians 1:15) in order that he may follow in His footsteps and in order that he may know that which pleases Him**. If we do not know what pleases the one we seek and love how can we please our love?

*James and 1 and 2 Peter- An Ironside Expository Commentary, H.A Ironside
** A great book to pick up on what pleases God is John Piper’s “Pleasures of God”

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