What is Regeneration?, by Witness Lee


The Life of God

The first and primary thing we receive through regeneration is the life of God. All of the capabilities, functions, and activities of a living being originate with its life. Even its appearance and outward expression are determined by its life. God has the highest life. All that God is and all that is in God, are in the life of God. The divine nature of God is also contained within the life of God. All that He is—whether truth, holiness, light, or love—is derived from His life.

Included also in the life of God is that great power which resurrected the Lord Jesus from the dead. When the Lord Jesus entered into death, death used all its power to hold Him, but the Lord broke through the holding power of death and arose. He was not restrained by death because in Him is the powerful life of God (Eph. 1:19-20). This is the very life we receive when we are regenerated.

The Law of Life

A law is a regulation, a constant and unchanging rule. The law of life is the natural characteristic, the innate, automatic function of a certain kind of life. The higher a life is, the higher is its law. Since the life of God is the highest life, its law is the highest. This highest law is the functioning of the divine life. With every kind of life, whether it is vegetable, animal, human, or divine, there is an automatic and innate function. That function is the law of that particular life. For example, a peach tree has a life-law that causes it to bear peaches. A peach tree does not need someone to teach it to bring forth peaches rather than apples. There is an inward law which does not allow the peach tree to produce apples and which causes it spontaneously to bear peaches.

The law of life which the life of God brings into us contains the laws mentioned in Hebrews 8:10, which God has put into our minds and inscribed on our hearts. These laws are different from the laws of the Old Testament. The laws of the Old Testament were written on stone tablets outside of man (Exo. 34:1, 28). The laws of life are the laws of God which God has written with His Spirit on our heart. The laws which were written on the stone tablets are outward laws, laws of letter, dead laws, and laws without power; they are laws which are unable to accomplish anything within man (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 7:18-19). But the laws which are written on the tablet of our heart are inward laws with great power; they enable us not only to know the heart-desire of God and to follow His will, but also to know God Himself and to express God Himself.

The divine life we receive by regeneration is living, spontaneous, active, and aggressive within us. It is always regulating our behavior from within, enabling us to know how God desires us to act and behave. Because of this, even the youngest Christian does not need outward teachings and rules, but rather needs to pay his fullest attention to the regulating of the inward law of life.

“The law of the Spirit of life” mentioned in Romans 8:2 is the law of life which is in us. Because this law is derived from the life of God, and cannot be separated from the Spirit of God, Romans 8 calls this law “the law of the Spirit of life.”

A New Heart

Ezekiel 36:26 tells us that when God cleanses us, saves us, and regenerates us, He gives us a new heart. What is a new heart? A new heart is an old heart that God has renewed. After this verse says that God gives us a new heart, it says that He takes away our stony heart and gives us a heart of flesh. Thus, God gives us a new heart by renewing our old heart.

Before we were saved, our heart opposed God, did not desire God, and was as hard as stone toward God. So it is called a “stony heart.” But when the Holy Spirit regenerated us, He caused our heart to repent of sin and to become soft toward God.

Our heart represents us with regard to our inclination, affection, delight, and desire toward things. Before we were regenerated, our heart was inclined toward sin and the world, but it was cold and hard toward God and spiritual things. Once we are regenerated and saved, our heart inclines toward God, loves God, and desires God. It also desires and delights in spiritual and heavenly things. Whenever such things are mentioned, our heart rejoices.

(What is Regeneration?, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)