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Born Again: Understanding The Infant Stage of New Birth
[1 John 2:12 NKJV] I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
What does "little children" mean to us? The Greek means...teknion = an infant, i.e (plural figurative) darlings (Christian converts) :- little children.
GOD'S GOAL FOR YOU: To be freed from the lifestyle of spiritual crime. Deliverance from sinful habits takes focus and effort, and you must learn how to receive God's grace for the power necessary for freedom.
From 1 John 2:12, we can see he is talking about brand new Christians, and like brand new babies the only thing you can say is, "Praise God, you are alive, like a new born baby!" The only truth that the new convert knows and has experienced is that their "sins are forgiven." But, the believer comes with a lot of old baggage, habits, false ideas, wrong attitudes, selfishness, pride, and all kinds of disgusting things to God. In the first steps of repentance and salvation, the sinner admits all known sin, accepts God's mercy of Christ's substitutionary death for their crimes, and surrenders to His Lordship.
So what does the new Christian need, now that they are babes in Christ?
More Repentance! Full and complete REPENTANCE! If we can picture a real baby here it will help. What needs to happen to a new baby? They must leave their worthless existence of just lying there helpless and weak; and grow, get stronger, mature, learn to sit up, crawl, and walk. They need to develop communication skills, become self sufficient, then understand the need to care for others, etc. Change needs to happen! A new Christian needs to learn how to grow in grace in order to receive the strength and balance necessary to learn to walk in the Spirit. This simply means to leave the overwhelming weakness of sin and get to the place that they can stand and live rightly through the powerful grace of Christ now pouring out of their spirit.
Yes, pouring out from within them! When you are born again, you are a new creation, all things pass away, and all things become new. The Holy Spirit of God invades your being literally, flooding you with eternal life, God's Spirit with all the power, strength, wisdom, etc. that you will ever need. The old life of sin must be killed off completely, so that godliness can grow and take over.
Here is the old sinful weaknesses according to Galatians 5:19 NKJV, "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." A modern translation breaks it down this way...
19 Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. I've told you in the past and I'm telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [Gal 5:19-21 (GW)]
Our culture and government preach the opposite of what God demands. Free sex, worship what you want as long as it makes you happy, party hard as long as you don't hurt anyone, believe in yourself and force your way to fulfill your dreams no matter what. While Hollywood glorifies this lifestyle, and your old friends will think you are weird and judgmental, the Lord demands the opposite from you now. These are spiritual crimes punishable by eternal damnation in hell! How many people do you know that love to party? Get smashed and take drugs? Look again at this list of common everyday practices of the people around you. You can no longer be “normal.” True faith creates a counter-culture from the norm.
All have sinned, and so the first thing God wants of you is to begin drinking in His Word, the Bible, for the purpose of convicting and convincing you of all the wrongs you have been practicing, and continue your humbling process of admitting your sins and repenting of them all. Repenting does not mean you mentally agree they are wrong, but begin to feel like God does about the above list. HATE THEM! Be repulsed by them. Grow in your desire to rid them from your life. Beg God for mercy, forgiveness and the power to turn away from them permanently. This demands diligence on your part to agree with God, leave it forever, and mature.
Think again of a little child. They persist diligently trying to roll over, then sitting, then crawling, and finally standing and walking. It seems to be a growing desire in them to change and mature. Yes, they fall, stumble, and trip; but they get up and try again and again. And when they finally learn to walk, they are weak, unsteady, and inconsistent. New Christians have the same weak, unsteady life that a young child has. Sin keeps dragging them down, tripping them, and causing them to fall. But, this will pass just like it does for a little child.
What Process Of Maturity Is Being Done By God?
As quickly as a child learns to change and grow, so the Christian has the same supernatural process going on inside them as the Comforter [The Holy Spirit coach and counselor] helps them as they do their part of reading and diligently studying God's Word [1 Peter 2:2 "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"] to understand and know God, His ways, and His will for them. And make no mistake, His will is that as quickly as possible you must learn to "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife" [ 2 Timothy 2:22-23 NKJV]. Grace continues to flow like energy from God pushing and shoving the new baby to hunger for the truth of His Word, hunger for fellowship with the Father, and hunger for a connection with other believers. This relentless process is like the relentless growth of a baby as it puts on weight, enlarges in size, and increases in knowledge.
1/ So the desire of the sincere milk of the Word is the grace of God electrifying and energizing your spirit and soul with holy impulses from the Holy Spirit life within.
2/ Then the constant flow of grace enriches your life to a powerful place of strength to obey His commands and to repent from the dead works of disobedience.
What Does The New Christian Need To Understand?
1. You must learn to love God through obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ!
[Matt 28:18-20 THE MESSAGE] Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: 19 Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 20 Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." All the commands of Christ must be understood, fully implemented, and practiced. There are at least 49 commands that the Lord gave to pass on to each generation of disciples. So, the major focus must be to fully repent of all sins, by mastering all His commandments. This is now possible with the grace of God rushing through your spirit.
2. Also the new believer must understand the importance of devoting themselves to the fellowship of the church.
As you just read the disciples are to train the next generation of Christians. The new babies must see the importance of clinging to mother [the church]. This clinging is explained in Acts 2... "Therefore those who accepted and welcomed his message were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls. And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord's Supper] and prayers." [Acts 2:41-42 AMP]
All four commitments are absolutely necessary for healthy spiritual growth. This is group devotion to the apostles' doctrine, group devotion to fellowship, etc. Not individually doing these on your own. There is nothing wrong with praying and studying by yourself, but like a baby, you do not know anything! Humble yourself and listen to your elders!
3. There is responsibility on the new believer to wrestle with their past,
be honest about their sins, start a campaign to get support from your fellow believers, fight through old dirty habits, and plan on being clean from sin; like drug users or alcoholics do to get freedom from their destructive habits. Most do not see that they are in trouble with sin, or that bad. But, this is God's will for thorough repentance!
Peter explains, "... to those who have received (obtained an equal privilege of) like precious faith with ourselves in and through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace (God's favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy)..." [2 Peter 1:1-5 AMP]
Virtue is moral excellence, permanent godly character, which again, clearly means, to fully and supernaturally obey all Christ's commands. Your heart must be committed to this total makeover. With the grace of God flowing inside, the Word of God giving strength, the mature saints showing you by example, and training you through teaching your life will change dramatically!
What is the Milk of the Word Spiritual Babies Must Study?
1. Milk is baby food.
Without teeth you cannot eat steak! So before you get ahead of yourself, make sure you fill yourself with what God calls spiritual milk. Even the first century churches got in trouble by not focusing on the foundational teaching before they jumped ahead to more exciting stuff!
[Heb 5:12-14 AMP] "You actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God's Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food.  For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!  But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law."
2. Here is a list of the milk of God's Word...
[Heb 6:1-3 AMP] "THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity."
1/ "Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God," Even though our culture always screams this is negative and the God they want accepts them as they are, it is clear this is not God's ways, His ways are never man's way. He loves us too much to leave us stuck in the sins that destroy us.
2/ "With teachings about purifying," because sin is like a disease that contaminates and ruins us, we must learn how to resist and overcome our past. We must set our minds and hearts on change and study the Word of God until we understand the reason, the process, and the will of God. We cannot be satisfied, but determined, to change completely. The milk helps you focus and grow spiritually. Don't just read it, wrestle with the truths. Study Matthew 5-7 and expand from there. Memorize the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20. Make sure you know want is pure and right so that you can pursue it.
3/ "the laying on of hands," has everything to do with submitting to authority. God establishes human authority and delegates and uses them to accomplish His love for us. His protection and provision come from our authorities. Parents provide for and protect their children [Ephesians]. Government uses force to punish the criminals to protect it's citizens [Romans 13]. Husbands must love their wives in the same way [Ephesians]. The church leaders show their spiritual authority by commissioning Christians to mission projects and ministry responsibilities [Acts 6:5-6; 13:3]. It is visually and symbolically expressed by "laying hands upon individuals" showing publicly that God's servants are under His authority. This isn't normal to Americans who do what they want without looking to authority for guidance [Hebrews 13:17].
4/ "the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment." Learning that life is eternal for all people, through all of time, in every culture gives us purpose and motivation to live for Jesus Christ. All people will face the Lord Jesus Christ for final judgment. Justice will be administered according to the rules and laws of God, not man. Hell was created for the devil and his angels (Matthew 23), and it is only fair that people who break the same laws and also rebel against their creator receive the same punishment. Just like a police car driving down the Interstate motivates people to slow down and obey the law, Judgement Day must drive people to rethink their actions. To a child, the pressure of the threat of punishment motivates them to act rightly until they mature enough to do what is right on their own.
But the joy of being with God forever, because of His great love for you, is the greatest motivation of all. The infant knows a little of this, but a child greatly responds to loving care and nurturing. To understand the danger and destruction of sin first, frees you to pursue and appreciate what God has really done through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He laid down His life to free you from sin and eternal death. When you are excited to leave all this old life behind because of love, His love for you and your love toward Him, you have an exciting adventure of abundant life ahead!
Do you notice the milk focuses on helping you turn from sin, and fully obeying Christ as His disciple! Well, this ends the overview we will offer a lot of teaching to help you through this spiritual phase of eternal life! If you have questions remember to contact us personally. God bless as you grow up in the faith!