Have I truly been born again as evidenced by a completely new nature that replaced my old one?
INSIGHT: You can love sports without being an athlete, and tragically you can love Jesus without being born again and filled with His Spirit. Claudia, from Australia, saw my story on YouTube and sent me her testimony. She grew up Catholic and had spent years praying to God and loving Him. Tragically, she “died” in a car accident at 21 years old. She left her body and saw the spiritual realms of heaven and hell. Terrified of hell, she was drawn to the light of heaven and was very much ready to enter, when suddenly she heard the voice of Jesus say to her, “You cannot enter; I do not know you. Go back and find Me.” She was shocked and exclaimed, “What do you mean, you don’t know me…of course you know me…I’ve prayed to you and loved you my whole life?”
Tragically, like most Catholics and many “Christians”, she had not been born again. He did not know her because He had not yet made His home in her heart, by His Spirit. Religion, church, prayers, service, and even deep affection for Him cannot save us. We must be born again and have a completely new nature, His nature. We are all born with a body, soul, and a spirit. Our soul is that part of us that makes us uniquely us, (mind, will, emotions, talents, gifts, personality, etc.). Our spirit is the part of us that can discern and relate to God, through His Spirit (Rom 8:16), once it has been made alive, by our being born again.
Human beings are all born spiritually dead to God (1 Cor 2:14). We have to be made spiritually alive to God (born again), by faith in Christ and turning from our sins. God then forgives us and cleanses us by washing us with the "water" of the Spirit (symbolized in baptism 1 Pet 3:21, Eph 5:26, Acts 22:16). He then gives us his Holy Spirit to live in our hearts, who communicates with our newly alive spirit. The way I see it, the more we surrender and yield our heart to the Spirit (by obedience and purity of heart), the more we will be filled with Him (Eph 3:19, 5:18). The more we are filled with Him, the more of His power we have over the sinful nature. This is the main way Paul says we can know if we have truly been born again (Rom 8:9-10).
It is impossible to live in holiness and obedience, from your heart, apart from being born again. This is why Catholics have need for weekly confession (which cannot save them), and why so many “Christians” struggle to consistently live a godly life. Many are stuck trying to live it in their own strength, apart from being filled with the Spirit. They are unsuccessfully trying to force godliness on an unchanged heart, through external pressure (like the Law of Moses) rather than from an internal desire (which comes from the Spirit). The Spirit allows us to tell our sin nature, “You aren’t the boss of me anymore!” (1 Cor 9:27, Gal 5:24-25)