By Sin Depraved, By Grace Restored: The Regeneration of the Heart


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One of the most amazing saving benefits of the cross is the regeneration of sinners. Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit in which he gives life to dead hearts (Eph. 2:1). Regeneration is the theological terminology for the new birth (John 3:3). From birth (Ps. 51:5), all of Adam’s children have hearts disposed to sin against God. This is one major aspect of the curse of the Fall. When Adam sinned, the image of God was broken. Only in Christ is the image of God restored. For our hearts to be re-disposed and for the image of God to be restored in us, the Spirit of God must regenerate our hearts and unite our hearts to Christ. This doctrine is defined quite nicely by Yahweh himself: “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19).
The fact that the Spirit regenerates unworthy sinners as part of God’s redemptive plan is unfathomable and miraculous. May we never grow tired of hearing the good news of the Spirit’s regenerating grace.

It would do you well to meditate on this doctrine from time to time. There are two reasons meditation on the Spirit’s regeneration of broken and dead hearts is important for the Christian.

Firstly, meditating on the doctrine of regeneration leaves you in awe of God’s grace. Spiritual rebirth is the result of God’s sovereign grace alone. Thinking about this doctrine will heighten your worship of the God who changes sinners from the inside out into the image of Christ.

Secondly, meditating on the doctrine of regeneration leaves you with a humbled view of yourself. The moment you begin to exalt yourself in anything that you are doing, think about the state you have been regenerated from. You were dead in your sins (Eph. 2:1). You were disposed in your heart to hate God, for you could not please him (Rom. 8:8). The only thing we have to legitimately boast in is the cross of Christ. Boasting in anything else is grievous to the Holy Spirit.

Meditate on regeneration to rejoice in the glory of God’s grace. Meditate on regeneration for the humbling of your soul.

Worship and humility are by-products of meditation on the doctrine of regeneration.

I recently came across a heart-wrenching meditation on the doctrine of regeneration that served my soul well. It is from the Puritan pastor and writer John Flavel. J.I. Packer writes of Flavel, “Flavel is clear-headed and eloquent in the plain Puritan style, orthodox, Christ-focused and life-centered in his subject-matter, with his mind always set on advancing true godliness, with peace and joy in the Lord.” This compliment is well grounded as evidenced even in the following short excerpt. I pray your worship and humility are affected by Flavel’s meditation on the regeneration of the Holy Spirit:

Man, by his apostacy, is become a most disordered and rebellious creature, opposing his Maker, as the First Cause, by self-dependence; as the Chief Good, by self-love; as the Highest Lord, by self-will; and as the Last End, by self-seeking. Thus he is quite disordered, and all his actions are irregular. But by regeneration the disordered soul is set right; this great change being, as the Scripture expresses it, the renovation of the soul after the image of God, in which self-dependence is removed by faith; self-love, by subjection and obedience to the will of God; and self-seeking by self-denial. The darkened understanding is illuminated, the refractory will sweetly subdued, the rebellious appetite gradually conquered. Thus the soul which sin had universally depraved, is by grace restored (John Flavel, Keeping the Heart: How to Maintain Your Love for God, pp. 17-18).

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