Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
People commonly view the New Year as a new fresh start, a time for turning over a new leaf. So we make all kinds of New Year’s resolutions and try to leave the baggage of the last year behind us.
Why do we feel this drive for newness?
Human beings inwardly long for a new beginning. Sensing we’re “old” and worn out, we try different things to make ourselves feel new. We look for a new hobby, embark on a new exercise program, try a new diet, get a new haircut, or buy new clothes. And sometimes we do feel new, for a time.
But sooner or later we discover that nothing actually makes us lastingly, genuinely new. Everything eventually becomes old, and we’re back where we began, feeling like both our situation and we ourselves are old.
The only way we can really be new is for us to be renewed. And the New Testament speaks much about being renewed.
What does it mean to be renewed?
Oldness isn’t simply a function of time or age. Even the youngest person can feel old. Oldness is a result not of age but of something we’re missing; we need a new element. And only one element in the entire universe is new—God.
God is eternal, but He never grows old. He is ever fresh, new, and living. For us to be renewed, we need God, the One who is newness, added into us.
Being renewed starts at regeneration
Titus 3:5 says this:
“Not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
Before we were saved, we were part of the old creation, the creation created by God, but that doesn’t have God Himself in it. Then one day we received the Lord Jesus as our Savior. God, the One who is new, came to be life in our spirit! This was the first step of our being renewed. When we were born of the Spirit in our spirit, the eternal life of God was added to us. This made us a new person with a new life, even a new creation, as the apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Being renewed continues after regeneration
On one hand, we are a new creation in Christ, but on the other, we are in the process being renewed. This is because God came as the Spirit to live in our spirit, making our spirit new. But what about the rest of our being?
This excerpt from note 4 on Titus 3:5 in the New Testament Recovery Version helps us see the relationship between being born again, or regenerated, and renewing:
“The washing of regeneration begins with our being born again and continues with the renewing of the Holy Spirit as the process of God’s new creation, a process that makes us a new man. It is a kind of reconditioning, remaking, or remodeling, with life. Baptism (Rom. 6:3-5), the putting off of the old man, the putting on of the new man (Eph. 4:22, 24; Col. 3:9-11), and transformation by the renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23) are all related to this wonderful process. The washing of regeneration purges away all the things of the old nature of our old man, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit imparts something new—the divine essence of the new man—into our being. In this is a passing from our old state into a wholly new one, from the old creation into the status of a new creation. Hence, both the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit are working in us continually throughout our life until the completion of the new creation.”
Our regeneration was once for all; our spirit will never again be old! But the rest of our being must undergo the day by day process of being renewed, remade, remodeled with God’s life. The new life in our spirit needs to spread into our soul, and especially into our mind, our soul’s leading part.
How to be renewed day by day
Since everything gets old so quickly and our outward circumstances wear us out, how can we be renewed in a practical, daily way?
Our spirit is the key. In order to be renewed, we have to turn to our spirit, where the life-giving Spirit dwells in us. As we do, He imparts life into the rest of our being. When we set our mind on our spirit, pay attention to our spirit, and exercise our spirit, we give the Spirit opportunity to spread into our mind, emotion, and will.
To turn to our spirit certainly can be challenging, especially in the midst of trying circumstances. But we can exercise our spirit by means of two helpful practices.
Call on His name
One precious gift the Lord gave us is His name. First Corinthians 12:3 tells us, “No one can say, Jesus is Lord! except in the Holy Spirit.” When we call, “Lord Jesus,” or “Oh Lord Jesus,” or tell the Lord, “Lord Jesus, I love You,” we turn to and contact the renewing Holy Spirit in our spirit. As we do, we allow Him to spread a little more into our being. When we call on the Lord in all the situations of our daily life, we receive more of His life within. In this way, the Lord is remodeling us inwardly with His life.
Receive the Spirit in the Word
We have not only the Lord’s name but also His Word. Ephesians 6:17-18 says, “And receive…the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition.” Every day, especially in the morning, we can exercise our spirit by prayer to receive the Spirit in the Word. As we pray with the Word of God, we are revived with a fresh supply of life. Not only so, we’re also renewed a little bit more as the divine life spreads in our soul. The more we receive the living Spirit in the Word, the more our inward parts are renewed. The oldness of our natural thoughts, our natural feelings, and our natural decisions is purged away, and the new element of God is added to us, renewing us in every part of our being until we become a new creation.
This year, let’s enjoy more of the rich supply of God’s new life to be reconditioned, remade, and remodeled within. As we stay in this process of renewing, our mind, emotion, and will eventually will become as new as our spirit, and we will fully express God as the new One!
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