Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Birth vs. Conversion

The spirit must be reborn and the soul converted

new-birth-vs.-conversionMost Christians believe that the new birth and conversion mean the same thing. Confusion regarding the difference in these terms can generate mistaken theological paradigms.

The Bible says it is necessary to be born again. It is logical that new birth includes the initial aspect of conversion. What is new birth? It is the new birth of the human spirit. The Holy Spirit re-creates the spirit and begins to live in it. It is a regeneration of the spiritual life. We call it salvation. The spirit is born again instantaneously. All you have to do is believe in Jesus and make a decision to follow him. This faith comes supernaturally from repentance through the message of the gospel. It is easy to be born again.

But there is another word: conversion. Conversion has a completely different meaning. Conversion is the continual process of regeneration of the soul. This takes time and it has its costs.

Therefore, being born again is an instantaneous regeneration of the spirit, and conversion is a continual process of deliverance and regeneration of the soul. Salvation is free, but to become a disciple costs everything.

You can be saved and not be converted. Why is this? The answer is because conversion takes place in the soul and salvation takes place in the spirit. You can be saved, have the Holy Spirit within you, live in God’s presence, be a new creature in Christ and still not be converted in your soul; your thinking, feelings and will.

What is your soul? You are a triune being: a body, soul and spirit. Your spirit is you; the real you that God created. Your soul is basically your mind, your will and your emotions. Your body is your house. Jesus can save your spirit in an instant, but your soul requires much more time to be converted.

Nothing is more dangerous than one who has been saved but not converted. You know that you are born again but you still think with your old mind, your old habits still dominate you, and many of your old opinions, sins, desires and ways of life continue to be struggles for you. All negative convictions still remain. Evil thoughts still frequent your mind. Corruption, bitterness, and hate continue to remain in you. You still fight with some uncontrollable desires. But you are saved. You may not know how long the Holy Spirit will contend with your fleshly attitudes, but you must know that you have been born again and thus you are God’s child and your spirit is eternally saved. Now it is up to you to cooperate with God so that your soul (mind, will and emotion) may be converted and this involves the lifelong process that we call “sanctification”.

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SPIRITUAL LEGACY OF PARENTS

Spiritual legacy of parents“You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot”. (1 Peter 1:18,19)

While on one hand many people recognize that the main channel through which God blesses us is our parents, on the other hand, the above passage speaks of the futile legacy of empty tradition, which is capable of stifling our behavior and compromising the development of our personality.

Our ability to keep traditions is Satan’s favorite target through which he attempts to establish and perpetuate his own purposes. In this way, he can seize not only one generation, but a whole family lineage.

“Those from among you shall build the old waste places, you shall raise up the foundations of many generations, you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” (Isaiah 58:12)

Many ways or paths must be restored. Many have not only lost their house key – they have lost their way home. They are distant, lost, their family has been ruined and its foundations have been destroyed. This becomes a chronic pattern that passes from generation to generation. God is seeking for intercessors in each family. God wants to find you; someone who has the understanding to repair the breaches, map out the roots problems, and rescue the family from the devastating accusations of the enemy.

It is necessary to better explain what is meant by the futile way of living which, through tradition, we receive from our parents. Spiritual breaches left by our parents produce consequences and influences in successive generations. It is important to point out that children inherit the consequences but not the guilt of the sins of their fathers. When Adam chose to sin, death entered his descendants who we refer to as the human race. That is a consequence of Adam’s sin. We inherit not only the sin of Adam, but the debt and its respective consequences. For example, if a woman has AIDS and gives birth to a child, is the child guilty of being born with AIDS? Of course not! However, even though the child doesn’t bear the guilt, he or she will suffer the consequences. This is the definition of a legacy. In Lamentations Jeremiah explains the situation of the people of Israel in captivity by stating this principle:

“Our fathers sinned, and we know more, and we bear their iniquities.” (Lamentations 5:7)

These consequences come in the form of curses, bondage, misfortunes, pernicious spiritual influences, physical illnesses and many other problems which make life difficult and which attempt to provoke the same behavior that sustains the breaches that were opened in previous generations. This is the principle of how the spiritual legacy is created.

We must not interpret these legacies in a fatalistic manner, but rather, as realities which can and should be changed through the restoring power of Jesus. Jesus emphasized this perspective when his disciples asked him about a man who was born blind:

(And his disciples asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2, 3)

In this situation, Jesus chose not to emphasize the “why” of the situation, but the “so that”. They already knew the “why”, but they were still blind regarding the “so that”. There was a dose of fatalism that needed to be removed. Together with the whole picture of necessities, misfortunes, curses and possibilities, the impossibility of a miracle coexists. Jesus is this possibility of a miracle.

Therefore to sum up all of our problems by virtue of this hereditary component is a mistake, but to ignore it is a more serious mistake. We need to deal not only with the guilt regarding our own sins, but also with the consequences of the unresolved or un-confessed sin of our parents and grandparents. In this way, we will stop speaking about hereditary curses and start talking about hereditary blessings.

When a scene is repeated across several generations it can be defined as an iniquity. Iniquities can cause curses which bring whole family lineages into bondage that need to be confessed in intercession.