Regeneration is God implanting a new life, a new disposition within us. In that moment, we go from our natural mindset that opposes God to a new spiritual mindset that knows and loves God. Such a change is so drastic, Jesus said it’s like being born again (John 3).
A newborn shows signs of life by crying, moving, eating, etc. As Lloyd-Jones says, “You cannot have life without some kind of manifestation of that life and that is as true of spiritual life as it is of any other form of life” (96).
But, what are the signs of a person who has been born again?
We continue our study of of “Great Doctrines of the Bible (vol. 2)” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) by looking at chapter 10, “A Child of God and in Christ.”
7 Signs of Spiritual Life
The first sign is simply a belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. “No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). While people can make false confessions, it’s certainly the case that a regenerate person will confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The second sign is keeping the commandments. “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). Not only does a regenerate person strive to obey God, but they enjoy walking in obedience. Even though we all fall short, the regenerate person wants to obey because their disposition has changed to desire the things of God.
The third sign is the receiving of the Holy Spirit. “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Gal. 4:6). If we have the Spirit, he testifies that we are children of God. We see the evidences of the Holy Spirit as the fruits of the Spirit become more visible in our life.
Fourth, someone who has been born again has a love for the brethren. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). MLJ refers to the “mystical union of all believers with the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore with one another” (98). We are God’s children and love to be with our spiritual family. God has ordained that we would gather together each week for mutual fellowship and instruction in the word. Our hearts should long for this time.
Someone who has been regenerated is conscious of the struggle within. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other…” (Gal. 5:17). If we have been given the Holy Spirit and a new disposition, yet we still have the flesh and its desires, then we’ll see/feel/experience this battle within us. An unregenerate person can simply live according to the flesh without conviction, but the believer is not able to do so.
The sixth sign is a desire to know God. A child of God wants to know their Father more. They don’t just seek his blessings, they want him. The unregenerate mind is at “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7) and does not desire him. A believer declares: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1).
Finally, another sign of new birth is a hatred of sin. Not merely a hatred of the consequences of sin but actually hating the sin itself. Unregenerate people may not like the consequences of sin but they are not convicted of sin nor do they see its vileness. True believers hunger and thirst for righteousness…they want to be holy.
Next time, we’ll look at chapter 11, “Union with Christ.”