What does it mean to be born again? This term is thrown around much today in Christian circles and even in the secular arena but what exactly does it mean? Is it
Just a religious term used to describe someone who claims to be Christian? Is it a label tagged to those who are supposed ‘holy-rollers’? Does it mean that we are actually born for a second time from our mother’s womb? Or is there something more? Is it making reference to something other-worldly-spiritual if you will-something from our creator and not just a moniker given to the religious zealot?
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3/ NKJV)
Many make the following of Christ-being a Christian-simply about the process of ‘doing’. Doing good. Doing good things. Doing good things towards others. Doing good things towards God. This includes going to church, being kind to those around us, even reading the Bible. For many, this still involves the ever present work of trying to keep the Law of God-the Ten Commandments. “If we keep the Ten Commandments we please God.” This sentiment is echoed across the country as the religious duty of those who are church goers. But are we to be trying to keep the Ten Commandments? I mean…they are holy and godly commands for which much of our own civil law is based. The Bible does state they are holy and good (Romans 7:12). Some also say we are to throw them out since we now have Christ. We are under a New Covenant. This is true that we are under a new covenant-one made and sealed with the very shed blood of Jesus on the cross-but the previous statement gets a bit skewed when it becomes tied to legalistic observance rather than spiritual outflow.
Following God is about being born-again. We are sinners by birth. Sin conceived and initiated by Adam and Even in the garden at the very beginning. Disobedience is our nature and unfortunately at the heart of who we are when we take our first breaths in this world. Nothing we can ever do in ourselves can bridge that now inconceivable gap which lies between sinful man and a holy God. Nothing. No amount of religion or good works or pantheon of gods to extol, will ever change our inherent nature that we are sinners. There is only thing which can provide the gateway for us to draw near to God and that is the person of Jesus Christ. The Son of God and son of man. 100% God and 100% man. The two combined to bridge the gap of sin for us. His sacrifice on the cross forgave us and redeems us from sin. We are forgiven. But what about after that? What do we do now? How do we change from the sinner to the saint? Do we simply engage our 5 senses and muster up a greater amount of resolve to follow after God and be holy, now that we have faith in Jesus Christ? No. That is not the answer. It never was.
When Christ ascended back to Heaven He promised to send us back a care-package of sorts. A gift that would keep on giving while He was away at the Father’s side, interceding for us. That gift is the Holy Spirit. As a born-again Christian, we have the privilege of having access to this Spirit. When we confess Christ, He (the Holy Spirit. He is not an ‘it’) comes and lives inside of us. Upon repentance of sin and confessed faith in Christ and His finished work, one receives the Holy Spirit and becomes ‘born again’. I’m talking about on this Earth in this natural body. Thus we have the Holy Spirit residing inside the temple of flesh. Thus also the constant war taking place between the spirit and the our sinful nature. Once doesn’t have to wait until they receive the new body to be born again. At that point, we will be like He is and will know Him fully but until then we receive his Spirit in this human flesh yet are to live by the power of the Holy Spirit residing in us. When we confess Christ as Lord and believe upon Him in our hearts, repenting of our sins and professing Him as Lord, His Spirit then resides in us making us a new man, a spiritual being residing in an Earthly tabernacle.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17/ NLT)
Christ accomplished for us what we could not do in ourselves. He fulfilled all righteousness and we completely share in His righteousness simply by our faith in His finished work. As a born again follower of Christ, we have been endowed with every gift from Heaven and are seated with Him in Heavenly places (spiritually speaking) even though we still live in this Earthly body. The goal then becomes to draw ever closer to God through His Spirit residing within us, as Christ as our ever interceding mediator. Our carnal minds are to be continually shaped by His Holy Word, ever conforming us into His image. We seek to be led by the Spirit in this life, not by our own minds, will or emotional faculties. We are to be driven and directed by His Spirit in our lives, from both His written Word and the voice of the Holy Spirit communicating with our own spirit inside. This is life in the Spirit.
“So I say, walk in the Spirit and you will gratify the desires of your sinful (natural man) nature.” (Gal 5:16/ NIV)
Because we carry His nature within us, we have the ability to thus overcome sin and live holy and committed to Christ each and every day of our lives. We are to commune and worship God in spirit and truth-not just from our carnal faculties. Are we perfect? Nope. Will we still sin at times and mess up? Yep Are we forgiven and covered by the grace of God? Absolutely. Salvation is not ours to maintain. We never obtained it so how are supposed to maintain it? Is that license to sin? Absolutely not but it’s also not the fear imposed by worrying at every moment one has lost the grace of Christ if they do something wrong. Our works and actions don’t keep us saved any more than they got us saved. Now one can go off the deep end with this thought saying why don’t we just go out and murder and profane and adulterize and on and on…Well I would seriously doubt the Spirit of the living God resided in someone doing that. The book of 1 John deals with this extensively as well as the letter by Paul to the Romans.
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2/ NLT)
It’s all about life in the Spirit, as we reside in the tent of this flesh here on Earth, looking forward to and longing for the day we give up this mortal flesh, to be clothed with that incorruptible body and to know Him fully, as we are fully known. As His Spirit resides in us, we don’t go around sinning. 2 Pet 1:3-4 tells us the key: He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him by His own glory and goodness. Thus we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. We are partakers of the divine nature right now. Are we fully divine? No because we sill have a human body and soul with human will and emotions. But as we deny the flesh, taking up our cross daily and seeking Him first, we become like Him and are strengthened as overcomers, defeating sinful temptations and enduring patiently for our Lord, sharing the Gospel with others, offering our life as a drink offering in service to Jesus Himself. This is living abundantly. Living as Jesus did. As He desires for us to live our lives.
We love because He first loved us. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us and gave His life for us. I know longer live but it is Christ who now lives in me and the life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God. I have been crucified with Christ. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus, the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. We have been justified through faith. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come. He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Do we nullify the law? No, rather we uphold it. How? We abide in His presence and as we do, He will lead us into all truth, glorifying Him and loving humanity.
Love God. Love people. In that order. Through the power of His Spirit working in us. To God be all the glory.