Spiritual Regeneration: Colossians 2:13
Now that we have looked at the importance of remaining loyal to Christ alone, we should turn to our second type of modern application: the value of focusing on spiritual matters every day of our life. Although attention to earthly matters is of some value, we benefit most greatly when we approach life from a spiritual perspective.
When we come to faith in Christ, a miraculous thing happens — our spirits are renewed within us. Before we come to faith, we are dead on the inside, unable to respond positively to God. We are God’s enemies not only because we have sinned against him and deserve his judgment, but also because we hate him and will not submit to him.
But God loves us so much that he refuses to allow us to remain his enemies. And so, he sends the Holy Spirit to renew our spirits so that we are inwardly restored, and so that we eagerly repent of our sin and submit to our Lord. At the same time, the Spirit of God indwells us, uniting us to Christ, and guaranteeing our future blessings in him.
Our salvation does not depend upon our earthly pursuits, but upon the spiritual realities of our restored spirits and our union with Christ. And it is for this reason that Paul encouraged the Colossians to focus less on earthly matters and more on spiritual ones.
Theologians often describe those who have not come to faith as unregenerate. By contrast, the term regenerate is applied to those who have faith. These terms identify the state of the spirit or soul of each person. To be unregenerate is to be spiritually dead, and to be regenerate is to be spiritually alive.
Those who are unregenerate are under God’s judgment because of sin. Also, they have no moral ability; that is, they cannot do things that God counts as morally pure. Moreover, they have no moral desire; that is, they do not want to do things that God counts as morally pure. In short, the unregenerate are not saved, cannot save themselves, and do not want to be saved by God.
On the other hand, those who are regenerate are forgiven because they are united to Christ, who died for their sin according to the requirements of God’s law. Further, their renewed spirits possess moral ability so that they are able to obey God, as well as moral desire so that they also want to obey God.
It is hard to overestimate the value of the spiritual change that takes place within us when we come to faith. Regeneration makes us new people. We are not just forgiven; we are also spiritually changed. Regeneration is the spiritual change that Paul described in Colossians 2:13, where he wrote:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins (Colossians 2:13).
We were once dead in our sins, meaning that we were under God’s judgment. But then God made us alive and forgave our sins. We were also dead in our sinful nature, meaning that we had evil natures with no moral ability or desire. But again, God made us alive. As a result, we now have the ability to desire good and to do good.