“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Ro 6:4 AV)
That perpetual battle popped up again today. This is one of those struggles between Calvinists and the rest of the Body of Christ that will never cease until the sound of the Trump. When are men regenerated? Before faith or after? Before rising in newness of life or after the old man and his foul deeds is buried? I cannot understand the mind that states the old man is regenerated before faith is evidenced and a new creation (which is what being regenerated refers to) rises in Christ. It makes faith of absolutely no consequence to being born again or saved. Of course our Calvinist friends attempt to separate being born again from being saved but they do so out of a philosophical construct rather than clear scripture. In effect, Calvinists must defend the unscriptural notion of two separate regenerations, one creating a “new old man” and a second regeneration, a new creation, rising out the death of the old man. In a discussion earlier today, a Calvinist fellow suggested that this rising as a new creation, this walking in newness of life following the death and burial of the old man was not being created new or regenerated but was a process of sanctification. While I do not doubt an on-going sanctification as a work of the Holy Spirit in every believer’s life, at some point one has to acknowledge there is a newness of life following a death. To regenerate is not to kill but to make new, to recreate.
Paul uses the expression “walk in newness of life” to proclaim the Christian expectation in opposition to the charge of antinomianism. We are to be who we are, new creatures in Christ, born again with the Spirit of God as our guiding light. The passage noted above is not suggesting we will become something new at some point down the road. No, it is an admonishment to become what we are, to bring our condition in Christ at par with our position in Christ. We are already new creations in Christ and God Forbid, as the Apostle put it, that sin should be our norm, our desire or what gives cause to our thoughts and actions. Sinful is not who we are. We are the Righteousness of God by being in Christ and submissive to the desires of the Holy Spirit. We became new creations when that old man of ours, full of sin and deeds uncountable, was put to death through our faith in the LORD Jesus Christ and we rose out of that grave as something new, something not held by our sinful past and one with the LORD instead of enslaved to sinful desire.