“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:1-3).
Upon hearing this, Nicodemus did what many of us might have done, he took it literally. Of course, because God has loved us enough to give us His textbook for life, we know that He did not mean to literally go back into your mother’s womb.
What Jesus was talking about was a spiritual rebirth, a shedding of the old Adam for the new. It’s laid out nicely in 2 Corinthians 5:17 when Paul says to the people of Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
To be reborn in the spirit means to surrender your old life that is corrupt and sinful for a new life of righteousness. To experience rebirth, one must cling to Christ even in a world that works to separate you from Him. It’s certainly not easy and it takes a dedication you might never have thought you could possess, but God has given you every tool necessary to get the job done.
First and foremost, among these gifts is His Holy Spirit at work within us. This is not something that we could ever do on our own. It takes the power of a merciful God to accomplish the goal. Titus 3:1-7 explains this when it says, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Jesus was born so that this rebirth might be available to us. By His death and resurrection, we were given a new life and a new hope. By His example He has taught us how to live a life of righteousness guided by His Holy Spirit.
God also gave us the gift of Holy Baptism to cleanse our lost souls in the waters of salvation. Jesus said in John 3:5-8, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
In Holy Baptism we witness the work of the Holy Spirit ushering us into redemption, delivering us out of our lost state into the family of the Most High. Baptism saves us by water and Word so that we might live a new life free from the threats of sin and eternal death. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
God has given us free will to choose new life in Him. Unfortunately, the world takes up so much of our time and attention that we fail to make the right choices along the way. The stresses and trials of life rob us from the innocence we once had. Jesus warns us in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Finally, rebirth requires a conscience decision made in humility and trust, so He has given us repentance and forgiveness as gifts working toward rebirth. God knows that under the influences of worldliness, we will have times of failure. But He loved us enough to allow us to shed our worldliness for His godliness. Through repentance and forgiveness, we are allowed to shed the mistakes of the past towards a life that is dedicated to God.
If you are looking for rebirth, you can only find it in the loving arms of your Savior. Surrender the old and rejoice in the new. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us to live again for You. Guide us to a greater understanding of your grace and mercy as we become born again. Amen.