By God’s grace the process of regeneration renews that which became corrupted when Adam changed from his state of innocence. If we look specifically at some of the terms Boston uses to describe this state of man’s nature, it helps us to put it into perspective. He has used regeneration, recovery, and now renewal. All these words have the prefix “re-” which indicates movement to something previous. Understanding that within the process of regeneration, some force is acting on our minds and souls, and returning them to a previous condition. Yet not perfected, our natures are becoming original, that is, innocent.
Regeneration renews our minds by illuminating them to the knowledge of God. Man has an innate awareness of “a” god. If you look throughout all cultures and all times, you will find some form of god worship. All man calls upon some god at some point. What about atheists? Well, they are liars. At some instance in their lives they have or will pray to some conceived benefactor. The pagan ritual of making a wish when blowing out the birthday cake candles is a subtle reminder of how even self prescribed non-believers have a desire to have a god. These higher critics have been enlightened so much in their own wisdom that their knowledge of a god has become darker than the aboriginal man in the deepest jungles of the world, yet not extinguished.
With the knowledge of God comes the knowledge of sin. The awareness of how offensive sin is to this newly discovered God causes the man to loath himself. Becoming aware of his condition drives him to the mercy-seat of his creator.
The knowledge of the vanity of this world and the vast immensity of the eternal kingdom of God makes him long for the great divide to be bridged. The vision of this promised land, though distorted by the heat of this desert he now treads, causes the traveler to feel his weariness. He pants for cooling streams, when before he wasn’t aware of his thirst. The veteran showman sees the smallness of the stage where he has acted out tearful scripts and hears the applause of all the saints in heaven for his soon appearing on the grand marquis.
The soul, as if dead, is renewed to life. It is cured of its inability to do anything good. Like a slave set free from its wicked master, the will now seeks to please its new master. Freewill now exists because the new master grants the slave freedom to choose good at his behest. Before the will was only free to choose evil for its evil master.
This recovering soul regulates the affections. It desires to love God more than itself. The scorn of man is accepted if it comes because of the love of God. This love for God translates into a love for God’s children. Sometimes one of the most difficult traits to see in the soul is the love of the brethren. However, god says it is the mark of the recovering soul to the world, “This is how they will know you, that you love one another.” (John 13:35) The renewing soul wills to overlook the blemishes and stains that still exist in the church, though with degrees of success.
As the mind and soul is enlightened the conscience is energized. The deepest corners of the soul are illuminated where the conscience discovers sin hiding. The result of the discovery is bitter remorse for past transgressions and a magnified scope of present sin. Like a tender wound bleeds afresh when disturbed, regret sends the patient fleeing for the Great Physician who only possesses the skill to heal.
Memory is renewed to recall the expectations of God. It is able to contrast past with present. The memory is allowed to forget past injuries in order for the will to forgive. Resentment is pushed to the back so that comfort can be quickly retrieved. Useless information is discarded or rearranged so that which is useful for the kingdom of God may be stored up.
Remembering that the recovery has only begun the patient must rehabilitate in measured regimen. The physician has prescribed before time what the therapy will include. The extent of the injury may predetermine the pain of recovery and the length of treatment. Radical recovery is rare, though not unknown. Paul was turned on a roadway, but if you read on he will tell you that his complete healing would not come in his earthy life. The lingering pain and discomfort may be as a thorn while you persevere as a saint.