We may define regeneration as follows: Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. This is sometimes called “being born again” (using language from John 3:3–8). – Wayne Grudem
While justification may be called a courtroom term, Regeneration can be called a delivery-room term, for in it we discover the new birth each of us have in Christ.
The Apostle Paul says in Titus,
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7 ESV)
If you are a Christian, then you have lived your life as two different people. There was the you that was born, and the you that is born again. There was the first birth, and the second birth.
Let’s talk about the first birth.
The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that all mankind has one representative: His name is Adam. It says in Romans 5:12 that through Adam sin entered the world, and death through sin. This means that you, me, and everyone else is born with a sin nature just like Adam’s. Since God is Himself holy and separate from sin, He cannot let sin exist without punishing it; and because of this sin, we were born with a trajectory towards Hell, the justice we all deserve.
Before Christ you were spiritually dead. You were enslaved to sin- sins of every kind, that come in every shape, and every form. You were a slave to drunkenness, and lying; to lusting and to cursing; to hating your neighbor, to worshiping everything but God, envying others possessions, and stealing. You were a slave to adultery, to pornography, to drugs or whatever poison you chose. This was a slavery that bound you while convincing you that you were in control. These were the marks that symbolized what the Scripture means when it says to be dead in sin: for the wages of sin is death. Your soul was lifeless. Your soul was condemned and a guilty sentence hung over you. The wrath of God was on you because of your sin. Unless you were revived, you would be killed by the very sins that promised you life.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 says,
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Without Christ, our hearts are sick. Our hearts deceive us. Our hearts condemn us.
This is why Ezekiel 36:26 tells us that the problem is not outside of us, but inside us. We need a spiritual heart transplant. We need God to replace our hearts of stone- hearts that are spiritually dead- and give us hearts of flesh.
To give you a heart that is alive. A heart that beats after Him. A heart that desires holiness.
To illustrate this reality even more, Jesus paints an even bigger picture. Jesus says in John three, that unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Picture that for a second: Born again. Not, change your ways. Not, avoid certain things. Not, pay God back. But, be born again! This means the first birth was not good enough. Nicodemus thought Christ was referring to a physical birth, when He was actually referring to a spiritual birth. He says we need a new birth. A new life. To be recreated. Meaning, unless you become a new person, you cannot enter fellowship with God. But, how is that possible? No man has ever created himself. The only way you could be born again is not by your actions, but by God’s supernatural work inside of you.
That is when you cry out to God, and become like the man in Matthew who said, be merciful O’God, to me a sinner! Where you admit your condition and acknowledge your guilt. Where you place faith in Christ to bear the weight you could not carry. That is when He changes you, and everything changes with it.
You see, you may have woken up in the same bed the next morning. Wore the same clothes and drove the same car and left to work the same job. But, the you that got out of bed that morning was not the same person the day before. You are a Christian now, and just like how everything before came from your identity in Adam, so now everything about you flows out of your identity in Christ.
Your representative is no longer Adam, but Christ(1 Cor. 15:21-22). And in Christ you have a righteousness that isn’t your own (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ bore your sin, and gave you His righteousness. God washed and regenerated you (Titus 3:5-6), and will not hold a single sin against you from now until the the rest of eternity (Psalm 103:12). You are no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:1-12). In Christ you have the freedom to obey (Rom. 8:1-4), whereas before you were powerless to obedience. Your life is on a whole new trajectory, towards heaven (1 Cor. 2). Your life is reconciled to God (Rom. 5:1). The old you died when Jesus died on the cross (Gal. 2:20), and the new you walked out of the tomb when Jesus walked out and left the grave behind (Col. 3:1-3).
You are in Christ, and there is no greater joy than to know that you are His, and He is yours. This is what it means to be Regenerated.