Evidence of Regeneration

“The renewing, new-creation work of the Holy Spirit in our lives necessarily makes itself known. The Spirit leaves His ‘fingerprints’ unmistakeably on every life He indwells…There are, however, two evidences of the Spirit’s renewing presence in our lives that are not often considered.

First, the Spirit’s new life within leaves us looking forward to the final ‘regeneration’ at the end of the age (Matt. 19:28). By His resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ became the ‘firstborn among many brethren.’ In the new birth, we are born again into the family of God, and the new light of the world to come begins to irradiate our lives. We yet live in ‘this present evil world’ (Gal. 1:4), but we live the life of the world to come because it has already come in the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit, the Spirit of God’s new and proper Man, Jesus Christ. The Spirit’s indwelling, renewing presence imparts a new direction, even trajectory, to our lives.

Second, the Holy Spirit’s regenerating presence and power create and inspire within us a godly self-examination. A converted life is, at heart, a deeply penitent life: a ‘broken spirit and contrite heart are the abiding marks of the believing soul.’ (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 116) Where there is no broken spirit and contrite heart, there is, and can be, no regeneration, and therefore no conversion. This is a missing note in evangelicalism today. My point is not that we should be constantly examining ourselves. The Puritans often said that for every one look you take at yourself, your should take ten looks to Christ. However, it is right that we lay our lives alongside that of our Savior and see, however dimly, the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in us (cf. 2 Cor. 13:5). This work is not assurance by self-examination. It is noting the gracious work of God’s Spirit in our hearts, perhaps especially in creating in us ‘a broken spirit and a contrite heart.’ The Spirit is the ‘Holy’ Spirit. He cannot but give us both a heart-hatred of sin and a heart desire after holiness.

The regenerate life cannot be a hidden life; by its very nature it is a converted life. It is a life that is modelled on the life of the spiritual Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose life we share.” – Ian Hamilton, “Regeneration and Sanctification” in The Beauty and Glory of the Holy Spirit