Evidence of the New Birth
Compiled by Leon King
How does a person know that he has experienced the New Birth? Can he be sure that he has experienced regeneration? The writer believes that God regenerates men and gives assurance to them that they are born again. In other words, God gave objective criteria in His holy word so that His children may know that they have eternal life. In the paragraphs that follow, the writer will give scriptural proof so that you can be absolutely sure that you have been born again.
1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
First. A regenerated person knows he is born again because of His love for the brethren. When a man is regenerated, God sheds abroad His love through the Holy Ghost, which is given. A man who is truly a believer cannot help but have a special love for other believers. These are his brethren – his spiritual family whom he loves especially. A regenerate man has a special love for all genuine disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love by which kindness is shown in the same way that God sends his rain on both the just and the unjust; but he has a special love for those who are of one mind with him. Like his Lord and Savior, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He and they may be very different in many ways, but they are Jesus Christ’s people. They are his Father’s sons and daughters. He cannot help loving them.
1 John 3:14 - We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
1 John 4:7 - Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
1 John 4:12 - No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Second. A person who is born again does that which is right as an evidence of the new birth. Negatively, the person who does not do right has not experienced the new birth. A regenerate man does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart, will, and whole inclination as an unregenerate man does. Sin no longer pleases him, nor is it a matter of indifference; it has become the abominable thing. He cannot prevent it from dwelling within him, but he can say that he abhors it and the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all.
The regenerate man is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God’s will, to do the things that please God. No doubt he is not perfect. He finds an evil principle within him constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. He does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence. He will generally be able to say with John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be; I am not what I want to be; I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” This is shown in the following scriptures:
1 John 2:29 - “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is born of him.”
1 John 2:3-5 - “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”
1 John 3:7 - Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
Third. A man who is lead by the Holy Spirit of God may rest assured that he is one of God’s children – one who has experienced the new birth. The obvious manifestation of the Holy Spirit with the spirit of a man is in the production of fruit. Fruit is evidence of kind. Be the manifestation ever so small, fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s life is iron-clad evidence of his passing from death unto life. The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Holy Spirit of God in the believer as contrasted to the works of the flesh which are produced by the old un-regenerated nature as we see from the following passage:
Galatians 5:19-23 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Romans 8:14-17 - For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear: but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be we suffer with him, that we may be glorified together.
Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Fourth. A man who is born again believes in Jesus Christ only for salvation. A regenerate man believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour by whom his soul can be pardoned and redeemed; that He is the divine person appointed and anointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and that beside Him there is no Saviour. He may have his doubts and fears. He may sometimes tell you he feels as if he had no faith. But ask him whether he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say. Depend upon it--he would say that, although he does feel weak, he would not give up Christ for all the world.
1 John 5:1 - Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.
Fifth. The man who is born again does not agree with the prevailing opinions of this present world. A regenerate man does not make the world’s opinion his rule of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the stream of the world’s ways, notions, and customs. “What will men say?” is no longer a turning point with him. He loves the praise of God more than the praise of men. He fears offending Him more than giving offence to man. He has counted the cost. He has taken his stand. His eye is upon Him that is invisible. He is resolved to follow wherever He goes. It will be necessary in this following to come out from the world and be separate. The regenerate man will not shrink from going so. His first aim is to please God.
1 John 5:4 - Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.
Sixth. The man who is born again shuns the places and people which would lead him into sin. A regenerate man is very careful of his own soul. He endeavors not only to keep clear of sin, but also to keep clear of everything, which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He feels that evil communications corrupt the heart, and that evil is far more communicable than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy’s country, to wear his armor continually, and to be prepared for temptation. He finds by experience that his soul is ever among enemies, and he studies to be a watchful, humble, prayerful man.
There is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks among those who are regenerate. In some people, they are faint, dim, feeble, and hard to discern. You almost need a microscope to make them out. In others, they are bold, sharp, clear, plain, and unmistakable so that their manifestation is plain. It seldom happens that all are equally manifest in one and the same soul.
But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted the six marks of those born of God. Without these marks, it is vain to fancy you are regenerated according to the scriptures. There must be a certain family likeness between God and His children. Without this likeness, you are none of His. There must be some visible evidence of the Spirit dwelling within you; it should be clear, no matter how small. If you have these marks I have been speaking of, strive to make them more clear and plain. Let your repentance be a growing habit, your faith an increasing faith, your holiness a progressive holiness, your victory over the world a more decided victory, your love of the brethren a more hearty love, and your watchfulness over yourself a more jealous watchfulness. This is the way to be useful and happy on your earthly pilgrimage. This is the way to put to silence the opposition of truth’s enemies. Let others, if they will, have regeneration on their tongues; let it be your care to have it shining forth in your life and to feel it in your heart.
1 John 5:18 - He that is begotten of God keepeth himself.
[In the production of this article, I am indebted to Elders Vernon Johnson, Denton Primitive Baptist Church, Texas, T. P. Simmons, and J. C. Ryle, all of whom wrote essays and articles on this subject.] - - LK