He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. (Ephesians 1:4)
Living water flows and brings life whereas muddy water is foul, dank, and stagnant, and it brings death. Jesus Christ came so that we can have lives washed anew with the living water of His Holy Spirit and the Word of God. The Bible teaches that sin influences every part of our being from birth because we are children of Adam. Before rebirth, we are spiritually dead. The Bible says that when we become born again, He translates us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light. Everything is made new, old things are passed away, and we become new creatures. In His mercy, He saves us and opens our spiritual eyes:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;). (Ephesians 2:1-5)
Salvation means to be rescued from danger and taken to a safe place.
When the Bible talks about the forgiveness of sin, the turning point is called justification. This means that God forgives us—the guilty ones—and declares us innocent because of the great exchange of our sins for Christ’s atonement that happened on the Cross.
This exchange, or justification, happens instantaneously; we don’t grow into it. That’s why it’s connected to the term “born again.” It’s a change from one state—being “unborn”—to another state—being reborn. The Bible also teaches that as we die with Christ we are raised with Christ (see Romans 6:3–9).
Once we are born anew, we grow in Christ. We don’t grow in being forgiven; we are already forgiven. We don’t grow into being born again; we are born again. But we do grow more and more to be like Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the washing of the Word of God, and through God’s hand and direction in our lives’ circumstances—both in blessings and in trials:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).
This process is called sanctification. It’s also called walking with the Lord or walking in the Spirit. This continues throughout a believer’s life, and it’s not a “happy-go-lucky” superficial Christianity. More often than we would like, it involves suffering, trials, temptations, and sacrifices. Nevertheless, we can experience all these with the risen Lord’s victory and presence in our lives. And He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
It’s also very important to realize that this is not a state of sinlessness. One of the devil’s most effective snares for believers is the temptation to pretend. While we are children of God, we are also at the same time imperfect, fallible human beings. The Bible teaches that every human being has a sinful nature, but that for those who believe, the Lord Jesus’ death on the Cross has destroyed that “old man” under Adam—that old citizenship in the kingdom of darkness. Colossians says:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Colossians 1:13)
However, even though our citizenship in Satan’s kingdom has ended, sin doesn’t disappear. After our re-birth, a sinful nature is still active—the literal term is “flesh.” The good news, however, is that now the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and by walking in the Spirit, a believer needs no longer to be controlled by sin (Romans 8:5, Galatians 5:16).
A new Christian is like an immigrant who has entered a new land and is unfamiliar with its laws and customs. And standing nearby is the devil trying to convince that new babe in Christ that he or she never really left, twisting the Word of God and hurling flaming darts (see 1 Peter 5:8).
First Timothy warns us that there are “seducing spirits” and “doctrines of devils” (demons) that deceive and cause some to “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1).
But the beautiful difference is that now, not only is the mighty and glorious indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit at work within us, He has given us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) and is working to transform and to prepare us to come into the full inheritance kept in Heaven for us (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:26–27; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 1).
God is in the process of renewing the mind of a believer and making him aware of what is pleasing and displeasing to Him. A great deal of the New Testament talks about putting to death the evil deeds of the body by the Spirit (Galatians 5, Romans 6, 8, Colossians 3) as well as renouncing and fleeing from the works of darkness. Repentance is a process that really means turning around in the mind and going in the complete opposite direction. And only God’s Word, through the power and illumination of the Holy Spirit, can transform our minds (see Romans 12:2). This process of sanctification can be difficult indeed, especially for those who have been deceived by Satan specifically in this area of the occult, which is so powerful and increasing in such dominance these days.
This is why it is so important to discern the types of “spirituality” we practice. And that is why the Bible continuously warns the people of God against involvement in worldly and demonic spiritual practices. Christians must separate themselves entirely from any spiritual practice that involves trying to create mystical experiences, something that is clearly not approved of in the Bible. Ephesians warns us:
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15–16)