What Changes When You Are Born Again?

John Ankerberg: Erwin, the thing I want people to get is that Jesus is talking about, after you’re born again, there is actually something within you then that was not in you before you were born again. Talk about that.

Erwin Lutzer: John, this is so exciting. There’s no other religion in the world that can make a claim like that. All of the religions of the world, if you took a piece of paper you could write all of them on one side: works are necessary for salvation: here’s the Eightfold path; here’s the Fourfold path. Christianity comes along and says it is a free gift. But also it creates a new nature within us.

John Ankerberg: Which is so important, Erwin, because we have so many people that have come to us and said, “Look, I’m hooked on this,” or “I’ve gotten addicted to this kind of behavior, and I can’t change.” They need a new heart. And this is exactly what Jesus is talking about; a new nature, okay? Not only does He legally declare you justified before God, that your sins are forgiven, but He also gives you the Holy Spirit who comes in and gives you the power to change. Your life is changed. You have a new set of desires.

Erwin Lutzer: “If any man be in Christ,” Paul says, “He is a new creation.” Now just think about this miracle. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4, he says the same God who spoke light into existence, the Light that came out of darkness and said, “Let there be light,” is the same God “who has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The same creative ability by which God created the worlds is the same creative ability by which God actually saves us. Now, let me mention my testimony.

John Ankerberg: Okay.

Erwin Lutzer: Here I am. I’m born into a Christian home. I’m told I have to accept Jesus as my Savior. I do it over and over again. And I don’t feel any different. 

John Ankerberg: Yes.

Erwin Lutzer: But at the age of 14 my parents say, “You have to get this straight. Christ has to be received by faith whether you feel differently or not.” So, there in the little farmhouse we got on our knees. And that night, as best as I knew how, I said, “I receive Christ and trust Him,” alright? John, the next day I knew that I knew God. I mean, the presence of God was so overwhelming. Why? The miracle of the new birth had happened in my life. And there are people out there who have never experienced it. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to see angels; and, you know, you’re going to necessarily always feel different. But it does mean the fact that Jesus comes into our heart, to use another expression; the Holy Spirit of God is resident within us, and the miracle happens.

John Ankerberg: It’s also an answer to those who say, “Hey, you guys say that you can accept Jesus and all of your sins are forgiven and then you can live like the devil.” No, you can’t. Because when you invited Jesus to come into your life; you put your faith in Him; He gives you the Holy Spirit who changes you and gives you this new nature. And you don’t want to live like the devil. You want to live more like Jesus Christ.

Erwin Lutzer: Because our desires are changed by God. 

John Ankerberg: Right.

Erwin Lutzer: We begin to love God. We begin to call God Father. And this is so essential to understand. Let me ask you this, John. Let’s use this as an illustration, okay? Here’s a man who asks a young woman to marry him, alright? And she knows he’s absolutely trustworthy, so she can trust the engagement. Does she say, “Well, now that my marriage is secure, it’s going to happen, I’m going to go sleep with some other men”? Of course not.

John Ankerberg: Of course not.

Erwin Lutzer: She loves him. And therefore, when we are changed, we are not only loved by God, but we love God. I remember a woman who struggled with alcoholism, because even though we have a new nature, we still struggle with sin. But every time she prayed, she always began by saying, “Father, I know that I have sinned against You,” and she was in grief over her sin. She knew that the word “Father” came out of her mouth. Why? Because Romans 8 says the Holy Spirit of God, when He comes within us, changes us, and we begin to call God Father.

John Ankerberg: Yes. I love this, Erwin, because of the fact that the Greek actually, when Jesus says, “You must be born again,” actually means, “You must be born from above.”

Erwin Lutzer: Right.

John Ankerberg: God’s got to do the changing in your life. And Jesus called that being born again.

(Extracted from our series “How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God – Part 2.”

About Dr. John Ankerberg interviews Dr. Erwin Lutzer

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