New birth is about casting off our old, mortal life and entering into a new kind of life: the eternal life! By putting our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, by accepting the beauty of the truth that he has died for our sins, we can start the process of Christlike growth and maturity.
We all fall short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). But admitting our sins to ourselves is only the ﬁrst step. We need to learn how to take our guilt, anger and pain and transform it into love and compassion. We must learn how our sins can be washed clean so that we can once more become clean in the eyes of God. We must, as Jesus told Nicodemus in the Gospel of John, be “born again” (John 3:7).
In Rebirth We Find Grace
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
When we give ourselves up to the power of Christ, we are not only changed but also radically reborn. It is through this power of the new birth that we are saved (see Titus 3:3 – 7). While in the past we may have acted in a manner counter to God’s will, now, as we follow Jesus Christ, we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us to live a more Christlike life. This sacred new birth is our living hope (see 1 Peter 1:3). Just as Christ was restored to life on this earth, so too we can be restored to life in Christ.
We are More than Conquerors Through Jesus’ Love
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37 – 39
Even when we have experienced new birth through Christ, it can be easy to doubt God’s love for us if we focus on the evil in the world and the turmoil we often find in our lives. But if we truly want to turn our lives around as followers of Christ, we must grasp on to God’s love for us. God has shown us through the sacrifice of his Son that his love has conquered even death. There is nothing that can send us beyond the limits of his boundless love. There is nothing that should cause us to live lives marked by fear and sorrow. Jesus has conquered death, and we have the hope that someday we will too! When we believe in the promises of this passage in Romans, we know that God loves us no matter the situation, and we can live joyfully and victoriously changed lives as a result.
Loving God Sets Us Free
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
The first step in turning your life around as a Christian is allowing yourself to experience all-encompassing love for God. This is not a love that we should offer only during a weekly church service or when we cry out to him during desperate times. Rather, Jesus commands us to love God always, that at every hour our priority should be God.
While this sounds like a challenging task, focusing our love on God will allow us to experience his love and share it with others (see John 14:21 – 24). Loving God means freedom from the earthly desires that torment us and imprison us. Lust-filled desires for power, fame, riches and sex can distract us from the true message of the gospel. Love for God, however, can be so strong that it counters these lesser desires, setting us free for the first time.
We are Called to Love All God’s Children
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 1 Thessalonians 4:9
The first step toward turning your life around is loving God — learning to become liberated from your old earthly desires and needs by focusing your heart, soul, mind and strength on the Lord. This first step leads naturally to another step — learning to love others. Once you enter into the light of the Holy Spirit and are cleansed of your sin, you will be able to see the world with new eyes. Your love for God will be reflected in your love for the world.
Ephesians tells us that we must bear with one another in love in order to keep the unity of the Spirit (see Ephesians 4:1 – 6) — joining together in one body and one Spirit. With the Spirit’s help, we can love others by looking for opportunities to “do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).
First Things First
Confession of sin is critical to the Christian life and the process of new birth. If we refuse to admit that we are sinful, we refuse to acknowledge our need of a Savior and as a result we cannot be cleansed from the sin in our lives. The Bible tells us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteous ness” (1 John 1:9). We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, but when we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, he freely gives it to us by his love and his grace (see Ephesians 2:3 – 5).
In order to keep our souls clean for God, we must pray, as the sinner in Jesus’ parable prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). This prayer — and the humility that accompanies it — is the ﬁrst step toward a redeemed life.
Content drawn from study material in the NIV Essentials of the Christian Faith New Testament
The NIV Essentials of the Christian Faith, New Testament is perfect for outreach and evangelism. It includes specially written articles that give an overview of fourteen key tenets of the Christian faith, such as Who Is God?, Why Go to Church?, What Is Faith? and What Is God’s Plan for Me? Learn More