Regeneration: The New Thing God is Doing in You
This week, I have been reflecting on this particular passage from Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus: With the Lord's authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But that isn't what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy. (Eph. 4:17-24)
What really stood out to me about this passage is God's desire that we throw off our former way of life, to step into the new life that He has to offer us. Paul paints an accurate picture of what life before Christ was like. We were hopeless and confused. Our minds were clouded by darkness. We wandered far away from the presence of the Lord. Our minds were closed and our hearts were hardened against Him. I believe that many of us, although we have surrendered our lives to Jesus, still hold on to fragments of our broken pasts.
I have been guilty of this as well. There have been several situations and people in my life that have inflicted deep wounds upon my heart. I can't say my first response has always been to allow God to do the healing. I have become quite adept at building walls and creating defense mechanisms to protect myself from future harm. At times I have been guilty of protecting myself against hope itself, fearful that if I hope for anything I would only face discouragement and disappointment. I have at times viewed my world through a lens of brokenness and have missed out on the joy of living in the moment. In this manner, I have taken my wounds and layered on bandaids. I have learned to walk with a crutch.
However, this is not how God does healing. God not only heals us, but he also regenerates us. According to Theopedia.com, regeneration is the spiritual transformation in a person, brought about by the Holy Spirit, that brings the individual from being spiritually dead, to becoming a spiritually alive human being. In biology, regeneration is defined as the process of renewal, restoration and growth that makes organisms resilient to events that cause disturbance or damage. For example, a sea cucmber, when attacked by a predator or when it encounters damaging materials is able to extrude it's damaged organs from it's body and regenerate new ones within two months. If a sea cucmber is cut into two or three pieces, each piece will grow into a new animal.
This is the type of work God desires to do in each one of us. God doesn't do surface level healing. He desires to completely renew and restore all that is dead inside. Notice how Paul words it: Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. It is the Holy Spirit that does the work of renewal within us. Before our actions and outward behaviors can change, their needs to be a change in our hearts and our minds. God desires to give us an entirely new nature that He designed to reflect His likeness, His character and His heart.
In order for us to experience the fullness of the healing that God has to offer, we have to be willing to set aside our crutches and tear off the bandages. We have to allow our wounds to be exposed to the light. Although it might be painful, we have to allow ourselves to experience the pain, in order that God can root out all that is dark within us. We have to be willing to open ourselves up to Jesus and to hand Him every fear, every lie, every hurt and every insecurity. When we allow Him into even those places we so desire to keep shut, He brings newness, in ways we could have never possibly imagined.
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Phil. 3:13-14)