The Normal Fruits Of Regeneration

 

The Normal Fruits Of Regeneration

 

God has imparted to us His eternal life so we can share in His divine nature in order that we can be suited to living with Him forever. But God has also regenerated us so there can be changes in our daily living here on Earth. Unless real though imperfect changes are seen in our earthly life, we must either doubt we are converted or we must be already greatly resisting the Holy Spirit within us. Romans 6:4 speaks of believers living in their new eternal life here now.

 

The first two fruit or signs of regeneration

 

The great emphasis the New Testament places on fruit being a sign that people are born again can be seen in John’s words in 1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” and 1 John 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” and 1 John 5:1: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”

These three verses taken together reveal that two signs people are born again are:

 

·         they believe that Jesus is the Christ of God.

·         they love others. This love will not be perfectly manifested every moment of every day (see Philippians 3:12 and James 3:2), but it will be not just limited to those people who love these born-again believers (see Matthew 5:46). Because God’s love is in us (see Romans 5:5), it must express itself, in various ways, as fruit in our lives.

 

Born-again believers love God

 

Another sign of being born-again of the Holy Spirit is loving God. In 1 Corinthians 8:3, Paul said: “but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.” (N.A.S.B.). Paul is not here saying we are saved by loving God. But since loving God is a normal fruit of having saving faith in Him, it is little wonder this verse says those who truly love Him are known by Him.

Jesus Christ is God. In 1 Corinthians 16:22, Paul says that anyone who does not love the Lord Jesus Christ is cursed.

 

Another fruit – hating sin and evil

 

Another sign or result of or fruit that people have previously been born again is they will hate sin. All regenerated believers fall into sin (see James 3:2). But deep within them will be a hatred of sin because when they were regenerated, Jesus Christ by His Spirit united with them. Christ abhors sin in any form (see Hebrews 1:9). So people who have received Jesus Christ in the born-again experience will have a Spirit-imparted hatred of sin within them. Christ is not inactive within regenerated believers but makes His thoughts and feelings about various issues known to them in various ways.

In this modern compromising humanistic age, few people totally obey God’s New Testament command found in Romans 12:9: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil…” In the original Greek, the word “abhor” means “to have a strong dislike for…something, implying repulsion and desire for avoidance” [1] or “hate [2] or “to detest”. [3] Paul here links hating or abhorring evil with having a type of love which is not hypocritical in God’s view.

The type of love taught by modern Western culture is a hypocritical type. Under the pretence of “loving” others, many types of wickedness are tolerated. For example, many humanistic do-gooders who claim to be full of “love” do not hate sex outside marriage, pornography, abortion and other evils which God hates.

In the original Greek in Romans 12:9, the expression “without hypocrisy” means “being genuine and sincere, and hence lacking in pretense or show”. [4] In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul said he and Timothy had a sincere love – a love which included no hypocrisy.

A love for others which does not include a hatred of evil is not a God-inspired type of love.

In Psalm 97:10, God commands that those who love Him must also hate evil: You who love the Lord, hate evil!…”

Many compromising humanistic modern churches try to fulfil the last part of Romans 12:9 “…Cling to what is good” without being willing to obey God’s earlier command to “…Abhor what is evil…”

God loves every human perfectly but hates evil intensely.

 

Confessing and turning from sins

 

Another fruit or result or sign of being born-again is a Holy Spirit-inspired desire to confess and turn from every sin into which we know we have fallen.

In Acts 3:26, Peter emphasises that the normal work Jesus Christ does in people at and from the time of their conversion is to empower them to turn away from their sins: “To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

In the original Greek, the word “turning” in Acts 3:26 is in the present tense. The present tense reveals God, through Jesus Christ, is continuously or constantly in a repeated sense enabling believers to turn from their sins. This empowering by God begins in our heart at conversion and has continuous or constantly repeated fruit or results after conversion in our hearts and outward behaviour.

Note Acts 3:26 is in the context of the repentance and conversion, or turning from sin to God, which Peter spoke of in Acts 3:19. So immediately at and from the point of conversion, God, through Christ living in us by His Spirit, is turning us from our sins.

The expression “to bless” in Acts 3:26 refers to God blessing us in turning us from our sins. If we think turning from our sins is not a wonderful blessing from God, we have a great problem.

 

Another sign – manifesting more and more of Christ's nature

 

The fifth sign that we are born again is we will begin to manifest progressively more and more of Jesus Christ’s nature and character.

Romans 8:29 says God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” In the original Greek, the words “conformed to” here is a form of the word “summorphos” which means “having the same form, similar in form as or to something”. [5] Bauer says in Romans 8:29, “summorphos” means “like His Son in form or appearance”. [6]

Even though Romans 8:29 will be perfectly fulfilled at the resurrection of their bodies, believers must begin to see the initial signs of it in their lives today.

 

Another fruit – what we say

 

The sixth sign we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit relates to what we say to others. Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:34-37 refer to this: “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” If we are really born again by the Holy Spirit’s power and not backslidden, we will begin to alter the way we speak because of the changes regeneration has produced in our hearts.

 

Jesus’ teaching on fruit

 

Matthew 7:21-23 says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ and then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” The word “does” here in verse 21 is in the present tense. In context, the present tense here refers to a repeated though imperfect doing of God’s will.

Matthew 7:21-23 does not mean believers must perfectly obey God’s will every moment of every day – in a continuous sense – in order to go to heaven. James 3:2 teaches all believers will sin after conversion. Matthew 7:21-23 refers to the general direction of believers’ lives.

God does not have a certain set total number of obediences to His will we have to do each day in order to go to heaven. Nor does God have set some percentage figure of obediences to His will He requires each day compared to some low percentage limit of disobediences to His will He allows each day in order to go to heaven.

Matthew 7:21-23 shows it is only those who set their hearts on doing God’s will, despite their falls into sin, who show the signs or fruit of a living saving faith (see James 2:14-25). Those who have little or no heart emphasis on obeying God’s will, and have an extremely careless attitude to sin, show the signs of a dead faith which saves no-one (see James 2:17, 2:20, 2:25 and Hebrews 3:12-14).

Matthew 7:21-23 contains a very strong warning to us in the modern Evangelical, Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. In these verses, Jesus declares that we can have what appears as a powerful Spirit-anointed ministry involving great signs, wonders and miracles done in His wonderful Name but be unsaved. [7]

In Matthew 12:33-35 and Luke 6:43-45, Jesus again shows that the state of a person’s heart is partly expressed in whether the fruit in their character, words and lives is good or bad.

In John 3:20-21, Jesus compared unbelievers with believers: “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Note Christ here teaches:

 

·         unbelievers practice doing evil. In Greek, the word “practicing” in verse 20 is in the present tense. The present tense here signifies an ongoing practicing of evil.

·         believers do or practice the truth of the Word of God. In Greek, the word “does” in verse 21 is in the present tense. In this context, the Greek present tense denotes an ongoing doing of the action. So Jesus here shows true believers repeatedly do the truth of God’s Word. This does not mean they perfectly practice His Word each day. But it does mean a real and repeated doing of God’s truth.

·         believers do their good actions or works in God. In Greek, the phrase “have been done” in verse 21 is in the passive voice. In this context, the passive voice emphasises these actions are done by God through us. The expression “in God” used in verse 21 relates to believers’ good actions being done in and through God.

 

Paul’s challenging words

 

In Romans 6:1-2, Paul writes similarly to how John has written in 1 John 3:6 and 3:8-10. Romans 6:1-2 says: “…Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” The expression “continue in sin” here means being continuously ruled by sin.

In Romans 6:2, the word “live” refers in this context to “the conduct of life”. [8] So living in sin in this verse means conducting our lives in a sinful manner. So Paul teaches here that because believers died to sin when Christ died, it is abnormal for believers to be continuously ruled by sin in practical living.

In Romans 6:15, Paul says: “…Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” Here Paul makes sure that people do not misunderstand his earlier comments in Romans 5:20 when he said “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”

Leon Morris says that in Romans 6:15, Paul is rebuking those who would say, “It is grace that saves, not the way we live. Therefore the odd sin is neither here nor there. Once we put our trust in Christ it does not matter whether we slip into sin or not.” [9]

 

Signs of not being members of God’s Kingdom

 

In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul warns that those who either constantly repeat or continuously practice the mentioned fleshly sins, with obviously no repentance, are not members of God’s kingdom: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

In the original Greek, the word “practice” used in Galatians 5:21 is in the present tense. As stated before, in Greek, usually the present tense expresses the repeated or continuous nature of an action. The word “practice” is also used in Romans 1:32 (twice), 2:1, 2:2 and 2:3 in the present tense in relation to the unrepentant, usual or constantly repeated daily living practices of the unsaved.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul states: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

The teaching of Hebrews 10:26-31

 

Hebrews 10:26-27 and 29-31 warns strongly of the results of having an extremely careless attitude to known sin over a period of time: “For if we go sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgement, and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES…How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘VENGENCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Verse 26 above refers to willful or deliberate continuously or constantly repeated sinning after we have come to know Christ. In the original Greek, the phrase “go on sinning” above is in the present tense. Also note in the original Greek, the word “willfully” in verse 26 means “deliberately, intentionally”.[10] Verse 26 does not relate to unintentional sin which we only later become aware of or which remains hidden from our awareness.

Verse 29 above reveals that those who deliberately constantly repeatedly commit known sin after coming to know God’s truth, are treating Jesus’ blood as a common or unclean thing and are insulting the Holy Spirit who operates by God’s grace. Verses 29 to 31 show such churchgoers are in danger of dreadful judgement.

 

Constantly repeated or continuous sexual immorality

 

The fact that God regards constantly repeated and continuous blatant known sin as being extremely serious can be seen in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13. In these verses, Paul told the Corinthians that they must expel a church member who was committing sexual immorality with his stepmother.

In verse 1, Paul said: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles – that a man has his father’s wife!” In the original Greek, the word “has” above is in the present tense. In this context, this tense seems to refer to a continuous nature of the action in progress. This is unless Paul here is saying the man was having sex with his father’s wife frequently, but was not living with her in a permanent adulterous relationship.

 

Saved believers do sin

 

The New Testament does not teach that every form of unrepentant deliberate practicing of various known sins is evidence those doing this are unsaved. This is because in 2 Corinthians 12:21, Paul speaks of some of the Corinthian believers previously practicing numerous known sins: “…I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and licentiousness which they have practiced.”

But note when speaking earlier to the same unrepentant deliberately sinning carnal backslidden Corinthians, Paul had said they were sanctified in Christ Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 1:2 and 6:11) and justified (see 1 Corinthians 6:11). So believers can be in a state of backsliding to some degree and still be saved for at least a certain period of time.

Also, sincere believers who have not backslidden can battle deeply entrenched sinful habits of worry or fear, for example, for all of their lives and remain saved. They may regularly fall into these sinful habits, repent, fall and repent again. If you are a sincere believer like this, do not let Satan deceive you into imagining you must be unsaved.

1 John 5:16 says: “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death…” In the original Greek, the word “sinning” here is in the present tense and “a sin” is a singular noun, referring to one sin.

If John meant the word “sinning” to be taken here in a repeated sense, this means there is a type of repeated doing of a sin which cannot be taken as outward subjective evidence the person is spiritually dead. If John was referring to repeated practicing of sin, he was not condoning it. But he was probably cautioning against concluding all such repeated practitioners were unsaved.

In 1 John 5:16, John cannot be referring to the continuous or never-ceasing practicing of sin. Otherwise he would be teaching that believers can murder, steal, commit adultery and so on every moment of every day and still be saved. Such a conclusion would contradict multiple other statements he made throughout the rest of the Book of 1 John.

 

Believers are not in a state of permanent sinless perfection

 

In the broader context of discussing sinning with our tongues, James 3:2 says: “For we all stumble in many things…” In Greek, the word “stumble” in the above verse is a form of the word “ptaio” and is in the present tense. In the context of this verse, the word “ptaio” means “to make a mistake, go astray, sin”. [11]

James uses another form of “ptaio” in James 2:10 in the context of disobeying the Law and becoming guilty as a result: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

The present tense of the first use of the word “stumble” in James 3:2 means all believers sin with their mouths in a repeated sense throughout their earthly lives. James cannot be using the present tense in a continuous sense. Otherwise in James 3:2, he would be saying all believers are sinning continuously every moment of every day.

But note in James 1:14-15, James warns that allowing sin to become full grown in our lives will result in spiritual death: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” Continuously sinning every moment of every day is equal to sin which is full grown. So the expression “we all stumble in many things” in James 3:2 cannot mean sinning continuously.

Do not look for permanent sinless perfection in your behaviour or character during this earthly life. You will never find it (see 1 John 1:8 and Philippians 3:12). If you wrongly constantly look for permanent sinless perfection in your character or behaviour, you will falsely conclude you are unsaved.

But despite this, never forget the New Testament teaches there are mostly real differences between people’s pre-conversion and post-conversion character and lifestyle.

 

Created in Christ for what?

 

Ephesians 2:10 also refers to the new creation in Christ: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:10 emphasises that as soon as we become new creations in Christ Jesus, this new creation should begin to express itself in good works. The words “created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand” shows God had a specific plan for our lives even before we became new creations. This plan involved us, by His strength, avoiding sexual immorality, all types of impurity, greed, dirty jokes (see Ephesians 5:3-7), stealing, lying, being lazy, bitterness, anger, brawling, unforgiveness (see Ephesians 4:25-32) and so on. God’s plan also involves obeying what His Holy Spirit guides us to do.

Apart from Jesus Christ, we can do nothing of real value in God’s eyes (see John 15:5). In recreating us, God has prepared us to do certain good works in and through Jesus Christ. Christ is our Empowerer or Enabler.

 

Bible Study Questions

 

1.         What are two of the fruits of regeneration spoken of in 1 John 3:14, 4:7 and 5:1?

2.         What does 1 Corinthians 16:22 teach us?

3.         Why is it normal for believers to hate sin?

4.         What does God command us in Romans 12:9?

5.         What did the prophet Amos challenge the Israelites about in his time?

6.         Explain what Acts 3:26 teaches about another normal fruit of our being born-again of the Holy Spirit.

7.         What does Romans 8:29 reveal about another sign of our being born-again?

8.         Explain what Matthew 12:34-37 shows about the sixth fruit of regeneration.

9.         What does Matthew 7:21-23 teach us?

10.     In John 3:20-21, what did Jesus say when He compared unbelievers with believers?

11.     What did Paul teach us in Romans 6:1-2 and 6:15 about God’s grace and sin?

12.     Explain what Galatians 5:19-21 teaches about those who constantly repeatedly or continuously practice the mentioned fleshly sins, with obviously no repentance.

13.     Of what does Hebrews 10:26-27 and 29-31 warn us?

14.     What can we learn from 2 Corinthians 12:21 and 1 John 5:16 about believers sinning?

15.     Explain what the expression “we all stumble in many things” means.

16.     What does Ephesians 2:10 reveal to us?


 

In the time of the prophet Amos, the Israelites were worshipping the Lord with songs and melodies and were regularly giving tithes and offerings to Him (see Amos 4:4-5 and 5:21-23). But they loved their sins and refused to turn to God from these. Amos 5:12 records: “For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: afflicting the just and taking bribes; diverting the poor from justice at the gate.” Read also Amos 2:6-8, 3:2 and 3:9-10.

Note in Amos 4:6, 8, 9, 10 and 11, God repeatedly accused these Israelites of not returning to Him. He said, “Yet you have not returned to Me.” In Hebrew, the expression “have returned” means turning from their sins to God.

In Amos 5:15, God commanded these worldly compromising Israelites: “Hate evil, love good…” God did not instruct them only to love good attitudes and behaviour. He also commanded them to hate wickedness.

 


 


[1] Louw and Nida, page 764.

[2] Bauer, page 100.

[3] Perschbacher, page 49.

[4] Louw and Nida, page 675.

[5] Bauer, page 778.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Refer to Chapter           “Sin is also lawlessness” for more details on Matthew 7:23.

[8] Ibid, page 336.

[9] Leon Morris, “The Epistle To The Romans”, W. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, page 261.

[10] Bauer, page 243.

[11] Ibid, page 727.

 

 


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