Folks often ask me how we can know that we are "Born Again"? You know, "Born From Above," "Born Anew." Yeah, well, it is a good question because it is something we should indeed recognize quite easily. As Paul pointed out, "The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children" (Romans 8:16). There is no secret. He wants us aware of our new life! Let me give you some background.
There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus (some of his friends called him Nic. Others called him Demi). Anyway, he came one night to visit Jesus saying, "We know that God has sent you to teach us. I mean, shoot, no one could perform all of the miracles we have witnessed unless God was with him!" Jesus shrugged his shoulders and told him, “I can guarantee this truth: No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (John 3:1-3). Whoa! I am not sure that is what Nic expected, but it is indeed what Jesus felt he needed to know.
If you remember the story, Nic became a little confused because the only "birth" he could think of was a "natural" birth. You know, being born from your mom. But all of us know that wasn't the kind of birth Jesus was talking about, right? It was a spiritual birth! A birth that only Yahweh can provide!
The moment you repent of your sins and trust Jesus as your Lord, you are born again! Yahweh is the only One who grants this spiritual nature through which we can understand and enjoy the things of God! As Paul told the believers in Corinth:
"That’s why only someone who has God’s Spirit can understand spiritual blessings. Anyone who doesn’t have God’s Spirit thinks these blessings are foolish" (I Corinthians 2:14)
You must be spiritually born to enter God’s family!
That is as valid today as it way in Jesus' days! Sure, we can try to live good lives, go to church, even serve in soup kitchens. All of that is commendable, but we still must be “born again” if we hope to see God's Kingdom! Have you made Jesus the Lord of your life? How Can You Know? Can you know?
Well, I would argue (quite easily, I might add) that yes, you can know. Just look at your attitudes, your values, your behavior and how you view life. Has it changed since you accepted Jesus as your Lord? Have you changed?
Once again, Paul had something to say about this, but this time, he was addressing the believers in Ephesus:
Imitate God, since you are the children he loves. [That is you, in case you were wondering]. Live in love as Christ also loved us. He gave his life for us as an offering and sacrifice, a soothing aroma to God.
Don’t let sexual sin, perversion of any kind, or greed even be mentioned among you. This is not appropriate behavior for God’s holy people. [That is what I was referring to. The things that Paul mentioned are not (or should not) be a part of your life!] It’s not right that dirty stories, foolish talk, or obscene jokes should be mentioned among you either!
That there is the primary way you can know that you have a new nature. As you walk with the Lord, and His Spirit begins His work in you, your heart changes, your values change, the things that were once okee-dokee and you didn't see anything wrong with, you now realize you are offending your Father. Your "eyes" have been opened to see the sinfulness of sin!
Instead, give thanks to God. [Now, after being "Born Again"] You know very well that no person who is involved in sexual sin, perversion, or greed can have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Don’t let anyone deceive you with meaningless words. It is because of sins like these that God’s anger comes to those who refuse to obey him. Don’t be partners with them!
The obvious opposite is that if those things do not offend your conscience, you don't have the Spirit within you! You do not have the life of Christ! You are not Born Again!
With your new nature, comes that "eye-opening" experience where you recognize your sin!
Maybe you have heard the ol' story about the Communist who stood on a soapbox screaming, "We will put a new suit on your body!" The preacher stands up and yells, "My God will be a New Man in that suit!" Ah, that's a little different, isn't it?
As Jesus went on to tell Nic, "Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going" (John 3:7)
Well, that confused Nic even more, "“How can this be?” Now evidently, Jesus expected more of Nic than he demonstrated because He answered Nic's question by saying,
"How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things?"
How "on top" of these things, are we?
Jesus explained what He was saying, a little differently:
"Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions."
"If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?"
Ouch! That's rough.
"No one has ever been up to Heaven except the Son of Man who came down from Heaven. The Son of Man must be lifted above the heads of men — as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert — so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life!"
Well, sure. That makes sense.
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one, and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life."
Oh, that is indeed Good News!
"God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. No! He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it."
Another absolute guarantee that I have been "reborn," is that I am no longer limited in my service and obedience to my Father! His life is now "in" me! All of us love to say that, but we still live unproductive, weak, lives. I love what Watchman Nee said about that:
It is a historic fact that in Christ, my old man was crucified, and it is a present fact that I am blessed "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). But if I do not live in the Spirit, then my life may be quite a contradiction of the fact that I am in Christ, for what is true of me in Him, is not expressed in me. I may recognize that I am in Christ, but I may also have to face the fact that, for example, my old temper is very much in evidence.
Exactly! Our mistake is holding on to the truth of our "new birth" objectively. We say we believe it, but we don't live as though we do! For instance, I can say I believe that gravity is real. I mean, gravity is an objective feature of our universe. But just believing that doesn’t mean that I can fly! I don't care how passionately I feel about it, if I leap off the top of the building, gravity will overrule, and I will fall to the ground! That is an objective fact!
However, what is true objectively must be lived out subjectively! To do that, we must live in the Spirit! In other words, although I am indeed "in Christ," if I live under my own strength, determination, self-will, pulling myself up by my bootstraps — then I will fall on my face in shame!
However, if I live in the Spirit — I am trusting that the Spirit of God will do in me what I cannot do myself! Each time the Lord requires something of me, I depend on Him to provide the means, the wisdom, the understanding, the strength to do it! Again, to quote Watchman Nee:
It is not a case of trying, but of trusting; not of struggling, but of resting in Him. If I have a hasty temper, impure thoughts, a quick tongue or a critical spirit, I shall not set out with a determined effort to change myself; but instead, reckoning myself dead in Christ to those things. I shall look to the Spirit of God to produce in me the needed purity of humility or meekness, confident that He will do so. This is what it means to "stand still, and see the Salvation of Jehovah, which He will work for you" (Exodus 14:13)
THIS is the New Birth we have been given!
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