By Mike Taylor
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6).
There is no other doctrine that is more central to the Christian faith as when Jesus spoke with Nicodemus and proclaimed that a man must be born of water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was obviously very confused, as written about the account of the meeting the Pharisee had with Jesus coming to Him after sundown. Nicodemus was thinking in physical terms and could not understand the concept thinking that he must he enter the womb of his mother and be born again? He wasn’t thinking in spiritual terms and it seemed totally illogical to him at that moment.
Many Christians use the term to describe their being a believer of Jesus Christ, but do they fully understand in Spiritual terms exactly what Jesus was driving at? Many use the label to describe themselves as this believer in Jesus Christ, but is belief enough? Remember what James said in James chapter 2:19?
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
Let us examine what it means to be “born-again.”
As an illustration, when I was a young man I used to be only concerned with myself. I was single and single-minded of what I wanted. But when I got married and especially when we had a child between us, I changed. My identity of who I was changed dramatically. Oh, before when I was a happy go lucky young man, without the responsibility of being a husband and then a father, I would have been happy with a condo on the beach.
That would have been wonderful. But now, my focus was on someone else. My money went to take care of a wife, and then a new life born into our family. I changed and my focus changed. My identity changed. I was no longer responsible for just myself. I now had a wife and baby and I was a father. My focus was different. I was a changed man.
So it is with becoming “born-again.” We change. Our identity is changed. Our core being is changed. We are not the same. Know one thing, my brethren. God is not doing a remodelling job on the same old house. He’s not coming in and saying, “Let’s knock out this wall, or let’s put in a new refrigerator over here, and put up some new nice curtains for the windows.” No, God comes to us and since our life was built around being lost in our sins, objects of His wrath, and considered a walking dead man, spiritually, God started from scratch.
It’s like an episode of, This Old House. The old house is so much in disrepair, with rotting walls full of termites, leaky roof, a foundation that is falling part, that they come in with a bulldozer and tear it all down and start over completely. There is just no way to repair what is unrepairable. They dig a new foundation, pour new concrete with cement blocks for a foundation and build a whole, brand new structure. That’s what we become; a complete new creation or a “new structure.” The old is gone, and the new has come. We were changed at our very core. Our being was changed inside. Oh, we may look the same on the outside, but spiritually we are different and God has taken the old man and killed him and buried him with His only Son, Jesus Christ, and raised him to a new life.
Ephesians chapter 2:1-3: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
We were hopeless, lost and objects of God’s wrath. We were walking dead men who didn’t realize it until the Holy Spirit drew us to the foot of the cross of Calvary. There we believed John 3:16-18 and the surrounding gospel message of Jesus and Him crucified for the sins of the world. Then by obedience to the Lord’s example we were baptized by immersion into a watery grave just as Jesus demonstrated when baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:14-17).
Why do we immerse a person? Why not just sprinkle some water on his head, or stick his head in a bowl? Because the water of baptism is a symbol of the grave; we died to the old man. We were raised to newness of life. But the question raised, is baptism necessary for salvation? No, but as mentioned, it is a sign of obedience and knowing that we have died to the old man and raised a new creature. Romans 7:4-6:
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
The law has no hold on us, in that it condemns us, because we have been baptized into the death of Jesus Christ and the old man has died and we are now raised with a changed identity. Oh, we still have that sinful nature, because we are still mortal. But Paul addresses this conflict of the flesh waging war against the spirit.
Romans 6:12-15: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
In Paul’s day, it was thought by a heretical belief held by a sect called the, Gnostics, that we could sin all the more; so that grace could be even more grace. Paul says no, for we are not under the law, but under grace and dead to sin. He continues in verses16-18 of Romans 6:
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
You see, because of grace and the mercy of God, it doesn’t allow us to willfully sin and act like nothing ever happened. Some people feel if they come down to the front of the church, shake hands with the preacher, join the church and “believe by being an assenting Christian” in Jesus Christ, that they are fine. (Party time now, because it’s all good I can live like I want, do what I want and I’m covered, past, present and future.) I just got my free ticket to heaven…. See there is a difference between believing as the demons do, by assenting to the fact that Jesus is God, and becoming a follower of Jesus and being conformed to His likeness. It’s speaks to the level of your faith, and decision to allow Jesus to be Master of your life.
WOULD YOU BE THANKFUL?
Let me ask you a hypothetical question. If you came to your doctor and he pronounced that you had advanced stage IV cancer and prescribed a treatment that cured you, would you be indebted to that doctor? Most certainly you would be. You might even hug the man, or kiss him, because he just saved your life. What has God done for you then? He just saved your life. You were dead, dead, dead. But He has made you alive in Jesus Christ and promised you eternal life and a future beyond your wildest dreams. Would you be indebted to Him? Would you follow His plan for your life in humble submission to a Father in heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ who just gave you a pardon from a death sentence?
Colossians 2:10-14: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”
God our Father gave us a new life, with endless possibilities and future heavenly rewards, apart from the blessing of this temporal life we live. He made us glorious promises found in God’s Word to those who love Him.
Romans 8:32-33: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Did you catch that? He will freely give us all things, and the greatest of these is a life without end, eternal life. As Paul testified in Philippians chapter 4:19: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
BUT STILL YOU SIN?
But you lament, and struggle with the complaint, “But I still sin.” Yes, we are still mortal. We are still afflicted with a sin nature. But Paul spoke of this seemingly conflicting paradox of those buried with Jesus Christ and find that when they say something they should not have, or look at something they should not be looking at, or think a thought that is not very Christ-like they are convicted and the need for repentance is strong, even as Paul lamented in Romans chapter 7:14-17, 19-20).
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”
But he identifies the solution to be a mortal man and having God’s Holy Spirit living inside us in the verses further down in the same chapter:
Romans 7:24-25: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
It seems to be a conflict that is present all our lives. We are “born again” but still mortal that has this war going on inside us. But with God’s Holy Spirit within us, strengthening us, leading us in the paths of His righteousness. When we sin because of the frailness of our mortal flesh, it is not our identity that is doing it, because we have become the children of God (sons and daughters), but it is the sin nature that is doing it and not my changed spiritual identity, but the sin nature that lives as a part of my flesh.
When we sin because of being flesh and mortal, we bring that failure to our Lord and repent and ask forgiveness and the fellowship that was hindered is restored completely. We will finally overcome the sinful nature, when the deposit of the Holy Spirit that melded with our spirit finally overcomes.
Ephesians 1:13-14: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest (deposit) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
When will we finally overcome? 1 Corinthians chapter 15:52-55:
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
Then the deposit of our purchase possession will be changed into His likeness at His coming for His church. As Paul spoke of in Philippians chapter 3:21:
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
And in another place: 1 John 3:2-3:
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
Jesus hinted at what we will be when we are finally changed into the likeness of our Savior when talking with Nicodemus, and as He displayed to the Apostles after His resurrection, coming full circle, again in John chapter 3:8:
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
As Jesus could come and go at will right before men’s eyes because He was now flesh and bones with a resurrected body, we will have the same body that He possesses now. We will be able to be touched, possibly eat as Jesus did, but come and go as a breeze through the trees that Jesus described. We will be the purchased possession, as the deposit of the Holy Spirit has now quickened our mortal bodies into eternal spiritual bodies with properties and powers that no mortal man can describe save what the Scriptures define. All I can say is, I can only imagine. And I want it, more than anything…Do you?
A DECISION TO MAKE
Have you been really “born again?” Have you accepted the only payment for the purchase of your soul to live eternally with Almighty God, a loving Father and His only begotten Son? Are you an assenting Christian believer in your mind, or a true follower of Jesus Christ, in Spirit and in Truth in your heart of hearts?
You must ask yourself these questions, as signs and symptoms of the closing of this church age is growing exponentially louder and more pronounced with each passing day. As any minister would give an altar call at the end of a message, I call you now, by God’s Holy Spirit and the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to repent of your sins, accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Master of your life, and be changed forever inside your very core of being. Become a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, our soon coming King and Lord…Be ye, BORN AGAIN!
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying for you to be born again in the kingdom of God. If you should have a need, would like prayer, counselling or just a listening ear, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you all, till we meet at Jesus’ feet.
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