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John 3:1-18

Regeneration Not Reformation

The message of salvation is regeneration—not reformation. Paul says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). The new birth is not an overhaul of the “old wreck,” or a new paint job. The old Adamic nature is so incorrigibly corrupt that even God will not attempt to fix it up. He insists on completely rejecting the old hulk and making a new man. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again’“ (John 3:6,7).

The old nature received at birth is hopeless, and dressing it up with education and culture only makes it more dangerous than before. The more we work on the “old man,” the more deceptive it becomes. Do you know why the sinner must be born anew? Because he was born all wrong the first time. He doesn’t have to be taught to go his own way—it comes naturally to him. But by the new birth he is turned around and headed in the right direction!

Spurgeon told of a missionary who visited a primitive hut and became nauseated by the filthy floor on which he had to sit. He suggested to his host that they scrub the dirty surface with soap and water, but the man replied, “the floor is just clay—packed down and dry. Add water and it turns to mud. The more you try to wash it, the worse the mess becomes!” Yes, the hut needed something besides an earthen floor. So it is with the human heart: it is hard and dirty, and nothing will help it. Man needs a new heart. He must be born again from above!

M. R. De Haan, Our Daily Bread

Resources

  • Bibliotheca Sacra, 135:539:206
  • Ask Him Anything, L. J. Ogilvie, Word, 1981, pp. 105ff
  • Living Dangerously, S. Briscoe, Zondervan, 1968, pp. 17ff
  • Issues and Answers in Jesus’ Day, C. Swindoll, p. 92