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“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Romans 6:5–8).

IT IS A POPULAR MISCONCEPTION THAT “BORN AGAIN” CHRISTIANS ARE DIFFERENT FROM ORDINARY CHRISTIANS. Let’s look today at three biblical descriptions of what happens when a person obeys the gospel of Christ, all of which point to the same experience. These descriptions emphasize the deep, inward nature of the change that takes place when a person turns to Jesus Christ.

Forgiven. At the very least, accepting salvation in Christ means being forgiven of our past sins. But it also means having the comfort and hope that come from continual access to God’s grace. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Saved. This aspect of our conversion to Christ is probably not emphasized enough these days, but we dare not forget that if we are in Christ, we are among those who have been rescued. “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9).

Born again. In Christ, our “before” and “after” are so radically different that it can be said that a new person has come to life. We died to our old self, and a new self has been born. And this is not just for some Christians; it is for all of us. Jesus said, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

As you can see, to be forgiven/saved/born again is no small experience. When Peter said, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19,20 NKJV), he was imploring his hearers to do nothing less than turn from death to life. No greater — or more decisive — change is possible for us in this world.

“Have you made the following decision about sin — that it must be completely killed in you? It takes a long time to come to the point of making this complete and effective decision about sin. It is, however, the greatest moment in your life once you decide that sin must die in you — not simply be restrained, suppressed, or counteracted, but crucified — just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world” (Oswald Chambers).

Gary Henry — +

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