Just like the natural birth, the New Birth undergoes three stages – Water, Blood and Spirit. When a woman is giving birth to a child, the first thing that comes forth is water, then blood, then life (Spirit). Being born again is a similar process with three stages: (1) Justification by water, (2) Sanctification by the Blood, and (3) Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We can categorically say that justification alone is not a new birth, justification and sanctification is also not a new birth. The new birth consist of the combined processes of justification, sanctification and baptism of the holy spirit. The same process goes even for the earth’s redemption. The earth was baptized in water in the days of Noah. It was then sanctified when the blood of Jesus Christ was shed on Calvary’s hill. It will be baptize with the fire of God during the battle of Armageddon, before God can finally dwell on it during the millennium.
Just the same way, before God can ever dwell in a person through the baptism of the Holy Ghost (man-being a temple of the Holy Ghost) that man has to undergo these three stages. Justification, sanctification, and Holy Ghost Baptism. God will not dwell in a filthy, unconverted sinner. Man need to repent of his sins, be forgiven, be cleansed, be justified, be sanctified, before the Holy Ghost, can ever dwell in him.
FIRST STAGE – JUSTIFICATION
The first work of God’s grace in the sinner’s life is justification. Romans 3:24 tells us that we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. Therefore, God sovereignly and freely justifies the sinner by calling him/her by the preaching of the word to acknowledge that they’re sinners, and to repent and receive Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord. Through the blood of His own son, God looks beyond our sin, not laying it to our charge, and offers us (free of charge) salvation and deliverance from the power and influence of Satan and the old sinful nature of our flesh – this is justification. He declares us righteous in Jesus Christ, and through the Gospel He invites us to accept, take possession of His free gift.
Justification by faith (Rom 10:17) requires believing (acknowledging, accepting) the word, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth” (I Peter 1:22). Then Repentance and water Baptism must follow. Acts 2:38 gives the process eternal prescription thus “Repent, everyone of you and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
REPENTANCE is “sorrow for sin”, “a complete turning away from sin”, and such a “regret over one’s sins so as to decide to change one’s ways like the prodigal son”. “laying aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21-22)
Scripturally, repentance has three main elements: (1) CONVINCTION, (2) CONTRITION and the (3) DESIRE TO BE CHANGED.
CONVICTION is the state of being sensible of wrong doing. (Jonah 3:1-10, Acts2:37). It is God’s red flag of warning us that we are going in the wrong direction. Being born in sin, we continue on in sin, doing that which is right in our own eyes without due regard for what God requires in His word. Therefore, God, through the preaching of the word, brings conviction that we need to change our ways to line up with His word. I John 1:8-10 states, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
CONTRITION: Broken hearted for sin, grief of heart for sin. It is a “sincere sorrow”, a godly sorrow and brokenness for our sins (2 Cor 7:10). The Bible says, “the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as to be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalms 34:18) Contrition is a sincere regret over past sins and an earnest, humble desire to walk in a new path of righteousness, according to the instructions laid out in God’s word. Contrition include “humbling” ourselves to God’s ways. When we stand at the cross of Calvary and see what our sins cost God, our hearts should be broken and contrite-humbles; and we should cry out like the publican cried, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
The Bible tells us that when Peter considered how he had ignored and denied the Lord three times, he went out and wept bitterly because of his sin (Matt 26:75)
THE DESIRE TO BE CHANGED: This is to forsake. This is the third element of “Repentance”. It is the desire for God to change your thought pattern, change your attitude (posture), change your ways, change your motives and objectives in life, to conform to His ways and His will for you. In 2 Corin 7:10 the Bible says, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation”.