9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (I John 3:9-10)
Jesus Christ came to earth to deliver sinners from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin, to destroy the works of the devil and to define, determine and establish children of God. In other words, to choose His elect.
Jon sets forth his initial proposition by stating that “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God” To be born of God is another way of saying being regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
Regeneration, as set forth in the Scriptures is accompanied by repentance. Repentance is a conscious ability in one’s mind, emotions and will to turn from sin and to turn by faith alone to Christ alone for salvation. This ability to repent is a fruit of sovereign regeneration (Ephesians 2:1-5).
Regeneration is also irresistible or effective. It accomplishes and overcomes all resistance. This is set forth in Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemas in John 3:1-8.
One commentator explains that, “When we read Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus, it becomes clear that Jesus teaches our being born again must come before we believe. We cannot see or enter the kingdom of God before our hearts are changed (vv. 3, 5). And since we are saved by faith alone (Eph. 2:8–10), then regeneration precedes faith. The faith by which we enter the kingdom follows our being born again. Moreover, Romans 8:8 tells us that those who are in the flesh—who are controlled by sin and have hearts set on the things of this world—cannot please God. But faith certainly pleases God, for He commands us to believe (John 3:16). People in the flesh cannot exercise faith for they cannot please God. The Spirit must change us first.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul shares that, “The grace of regeneration is irresistible. Jesus likens the Spirit’s work in regeneration to the wind blowing (John 3:8). We cannot see the wind, but we can see its effects as trees sway and objects blow past us. Furthermore, try as we might, we cannot stop or control the wind. When it wants to blow in a certain direction, it will push against whatever impedes it until what is blocking it is knocked down, as those who have seen devastating windstorms know all too well. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. He will finally overcome all resistance to faith in those whom God wants to save. When we say the grace of regeneration is irresistible, we do not deny that people can resist the Holy Spirit for a time. The point is that the Spirit can and will finally overcome all resistance to the truth in those whom God has chosen for salvation. If you are a believer, it is because God overcame your resistance. Thank Him today for doing so.”
Thirdly, regeneration is mysterious. The work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration cannot finally be resisted or controlled and like the wind that blows, you cannot see the Spirit as He regenerates a dead sinner; rather, you can see only the effects of regeneration—profession of faith, repentance, and evidence of a changed life (John 3:8). This is what the Apostle John sets forth when he writes that no one born of God makes a practice of sinning because he has been born of God.
Finally, regeneration is gracious. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” God is under no obligation to enable sinners to believe the gospel but He graciously chooses to do so.
John Calvin explains from Scripture that every part of salvation is authored by God. This includes even our decision to believe.
Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “We believe only because the Lord makes us willing to believe. Apart from grace, we are fully unwilling to believe. Our hearts are dead in sin, and dead hearts—just like dead bodies—cannot move of their own accord (Eph. 2:1–3). We must not stretch the metaphor too far; Paul is not saying that human beings are unable to make choices without God’s grace. Unredeemed sinners, after all, make choices every day. What the Apostle means is that unless God’s grace resurrects our dead hearts, we cannot make decisions that are pleasing to the Lord. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8), and to be dead in trespasses and sin is to be in or controlled by the flesh.”
Meditate upon the doctrine of regeneration today Take time to thank God for granting you a new birth by His sovereign grace alone, through God given faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!