|Dr. Couch, what is the difference between Justification and being born again? Or is there a difference?|
"Justification" is a legal term that shows God has done something to the believer that makes him acquitted, declared righteous, that satisfies His divine requirement. Being "born again" has to do with spiritually becoming a child of God.
The Greek words "righteous, righteousness, just, justification, justify" all come from the one word "to legally acquit" (dikaios). These Greek words are all related to the Hebrew word "tsadeek" as found in Genesis 15:6. "Abraham believed God and "it was reckoned," "accounted," "declared to" him for "righteousness."
In other words, the Lord declared Abraham as righteous in His divine mind, or divine declaration. Abraham then was seen as righteous in the eyes of God. My illustration below helps me understand what God does when He declares one righteous:
If you put a million dollars in my bank account, it could be said that I now have a million dollars applied to my account! But I didn't earn it; it was applied to me; or reckoned, account to me; I did not work for it, but I am now seen as a millionaire. If you looked at my bank account you would see me as a millionaire though I did not earn it (I could not work for it) but it is now seen as mine by God's declaration!
We do not earn righteousness by works; it is the righteousness of God that comes through Christ and is given to us in His divine purpose. God now sees me as righteous!
The apostle Paul said that Abraham's faith was "counted, imputed to him for righteousness" (Rom. 4: 3, 5).
And "God imputed, accounted righteousness to him without works" (v. 9).
And "not by works of righteousness are we saved" (Titus 3:5).
"Righteousness comes by faith [not by works]" (Heb. 11:7).
"Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (James 2:23).
"To be born again" means "to be again birthed." By this, I become a child of God and I am related to Him by faith. There are two classes of people in the world. Those born of God by faith and those who are the children of the devil (1 John 3:10). By faith, we are now sons of God (v. 2).
God has exercised His power whereby we become children of God (John 1:12). Before, we were by nature children of wrath (that is, due wrath) (Eph. 2:3). We are now "followers of God, as dear children (5:1), and we are to walk as children of light (v. 8).
Both expressions, (1) to be made righteous, and (2) to be born again, work together in Titus 3:5, though they are separate ideas. The verse reads:
"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done (in, by means of) righteousness (or righteous acts), but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration (again generating, again birthing, new birth) and renewing (again newing, remaking) of the Holy Spirit."
The expression "children of God," or "child of God" comes from the Greek word "teknon" which is a masculine word. It is sometimes translated as "son" or as "children, child" of God. Take your choice.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (1/11)