In John 3, Nicodemus seeks out Jesus in the evening and begins speaking with Him about the teachings of God. The discussion turns toward the idea of being born again, a process Jesus says people must go through to be part of God’s kingdom – a process Jesus describes as involving water and the spirit. This concept of being born again is prevalent in Christianity, and, in this same chapter, we find John baptizing in Selim where there is much water.
Our Spiritual Rebirth
Being born again necessitates action on our parts. Jesus says it must happen to see God’s kingdom. There is no way to get around this fact. Staying in John 3:7-8, Jesus makes it clear that this rebirth is not a physical reformation of one’s body. It is a spiritual process. Like the wind, this rebirth cannot be seen itself, but its effects on the individual are observable. We physically remain the same person, but our character changes – again requiring effort on our own parts.
This regeneration, in II Corinthians 5:17, results in a new creature. The old melts away for the new. Ephesians 4:23-24 describes a new man who follows after God, created in holiness and truth. We take on family characteristics that reflect our heavenly Father. Again, this is not in physical traits but the behaviors and attitudes in which I engage. My actions reflect the qualities of our God. I am given a fresh start as a child of God.
Romans 3:23 describes the problem of sin that separates us from God, and Romans 6:23 describes sinful behavior as deserving death. Our actions cannot be justified before God. However, in that same verse, we receive free salvation through Christ Jesus. He can bring us out of the death of sin into the life of forgiveness. Titus 3:3-5 contrasts our former selves with our new identities in Christ. This is more than turning one’s physical life around. It is a submission to the washing of regeneration – the rebirth of water and the spirit.
Being born again does come with many benefits and privileges, but certain obligations go with these blessings, with this reformation in God’s likeness. We are sons and daughters of our King, and this relationship impacts the way we conduct ourselves. How we act, how we treat others, the way we think – all of these are impacted by our rebirth.
Colossians 3:1-3 calls upon us to change our focus, and John 13:34 calls upon us to demonstrate love as people who follow Him. Changing how we think affects how we behave. Galatians 5:16-26 describes the struggle between our bodily desires and the Spirit, and Paul calls upon us to change our conduct and turn away from those immoral actions we might have participated in before. He describes behaviors that might have been in our past and lists qualities we should now be focusing on instead.
One born into a family develops certain characteristics of that family. When we are baptized, we are born of God, and, from that point forward, our lives should begin reflecting those qualities we see in God and exemplified in our Savior. We are no longer of this world. We are of God.
lesson by Tim Smelser