A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
There is a hidden trap that threatens every Christian, whether or not they are genuinely born again. It’s the trap and temptation to become religious. Let me explain the difference.
On one hand, religion is all about being conditioned to certain spiritual or moral rules. When you’re so conditioned you know how to dress, talk and perform acts of worship in ‘appropriate’ ways. You become familiar with and good at doing the right things. You may not enjoy the religious acts, but you do them because you have to. You’re determined to do whatever is necessary to comply.
On the other hand, regeneration is first about being born again. It’s about having a brand new relationship with God. It’s about getting a new heart or spirit from the Lord. However, you’re also obedient to God’s commandments. So how are you different from an obedient, religious person? Here’s how.
The difference is in the heart! When you’re truly born again, you have a new nature (heart or spirit) of God. So you want to please God and do the right because that aligns with your new identity in Christ. You are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works foreordained for you to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).
So you’re not saved by your good works, but you do good works because you’re saved. Your goal is not to meet the minimal religious standards to get you into heaven. You love God so much that there’s nothing you cannot do for Him and His kingdom. You’re not conditioned to act religiously. You’re not merely complying with biblical truths. Rather, you love to worship God. The love of Christ compels you to go over and beyond the call of duty (2 Corinthians 5:14). You serve, give, tithe, pray, witness and do many other Christian acts from a cheerful and willing heart. That’s the difference.