Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” ~ John 3:3
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son… ~ Colossians 1:13
I have been sitting at this computer for quite some time now. A few hours easy. I have a lot on my mind right now, and not all of it pertains to new birth. A lot of it does, but it’s way too much to put into a blog post. Maybe. As I’ve sat here, the Lord just pulled a funny. He deposited a picture into my mind of what this new birth looks like. But before I get to this revelationary (sometimes you just gotta make up words) picture, let me take you through some of my thoughts.
Alright, so we have to be born again. Born anew. Born from above. Born of the Spirit. Born of God. You ever wonder why that is? You ever ask, “Why do I have to be born again?” I believe Jesus answers that question better than Nicodemus’ question of how.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and 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
Hmm, ok. So, what? Well, later, when conversing (correct word usage) with a Samaritan woman at a well, Jesus reveals that “an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Ok, then what? Well, a little later, Jesus says to his disciples (not just the twelve), “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to y’all are spirit and are life.” (Texas version)
So, someone without the logical deductioning (incorrect word usage) prowess of Sherlock Holmes could easily surmise that if the Spirit gives life, and God is spirit, and one must be born of the Spirit, then one has to be born again. Why? Because we’re born of flesh, silly. And if the flesh profits nothing and that which is born of the flesh is flesh, then that which is born of the flesh profits nothing. Ergo, that which is flesh cannot see, let alone enter, the kingdom of God, aka Spirit. One must be born again. Am I off my rocker?
We don’t end with new birth. Check the scriptures for the spirit of adoption as sons. Basically, this is conformity to Christ and His Sonship. He is the firstborn from the dead and the firstborn of many brethren. We are placed into His firstbornship (again with the making up of words). If we are placed into His firstbornship, then we are placed into His Sonship, which is the completion of that firstbornity. (I am not confined to your mere human language!)
So, what in the world does that have to do with new birth? It is a series of new births. We are conformed to Christ’s image (Himself, really) by the renewing of our mind. I don’t know about you, but a constant renewing of my mind sounds a lot like constantly beginning again. Starting over. Birthing anew.
Questions: Why would we not want to be conformed to this world? Could it be because this world is flesh? How are we to be transformed? What does it mean to have our mind renewed? If God is spirit, would His will not also be spirit? If we are conformed to this world, or the flesh, would we be able to prove what the will of God is? What is the will of God?
Answers: This world has been crucified to us in Christ and we to it (Galatians 6:14). Both the world and the flesh have been crucified in Christ (Galatians 6:14, 5:24). We are transformed by the renewing of our mind (duh). Let us propose it means to be born again, i.e. born of the Spirit (1 John 5:1). Yes, no, and good question. Simply put, God’s will is that which is good, acceptable, and perfect – i.e. Jesus Christ.
In my experience, both personally living it and seeing it lived out in others, we illustrate this verse like so: We have crossed over from Mexico (or any one country) into the United States (or any other one country). In other words, we’ve gone from one land to a new one. Still the same, right? I mean, if you leave Mexico as an adult, then you surely enter the U.S. as an adult, too. Those are the laws of nature, buddy. But that’s not what this verse is like at all.
Why would we have to be born again if we entered this new kingdom just like we left the old one? Why would we have to be transformed by the renewing of our mind if we were conformed to this new world same as the old one? Because the old kingdom is of flesh, and this new one is of the Spirit. We can’t bring all our previous knowledge, life, possessions, maturity, you name it into this new kingdom. It is completely other. We have to be born into it. We have to start again. Just as a baby who has come full term in his mother’s womb must now start life anew in this big ol’ world, so we, too, must start anew in the even bigger, ol’er, more real world of the Spirit – the kingdom of His beloved Son.
Let’s even take a quick look at the best picture of coming into a new land that we have – the sons of Israel coming into Canaan. As a nation, what happened? They didn’t enter into the promised land, the land of God’s rest, as they left Egypt did they? No, the generation that left Egypt didn’t enter Canaan. The nation entered as a new generation! A whole new generation! Except for their head – the leader – Joshua. He and Caleb were the only two from that previous generation who were allowed to enter the land. Why? Because they were the only two, out of an entire nation (millions!), who believed God. The only two. Who believed God. So, they were allowed to enter into His rest (Hebrews 3 and 4). Even the nation of Israel was born again – born anew – born of God. How?! Why?! They believed. They took God at His word (finally), and they entered the promised land.
Hear me now (read me now?), saints – to stay and live in this kingdom, we must constantly be being born again. We must constantly be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Why? Because just as soon as we stop living by the Spirit, we take back up the flesh, and the flesh cannot abide in the kingdom, which is spirit. That is why we are exhorted to encourage one another while it is still called today – “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Otherwise, we are like a dog returning to its vomit or a baby playing in his dirty diaper. The flesh profits nothing, so why go back to the flesh? Why try to live by the flesh? “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Let us be born again! And again! And again! And again!…
So, there are my thoughts, dear reader. If you are still here, then you shall be rewarded with God’s irreverent funny that He so lovingly deposited into my spirit:
New birth is akin to digestion. We eat of the tree of Life, of Christ, and believe Him. Constantly. The more we eat, the fuller we get. That which is of the Spirit will give life to our spirit, much the same way as food gives life to our body. But just as our body creates waste, so do we, as we put ourselves, our flesh, in the life we receive from Christ. That which is of the flesh will not give life to our spirit, therefore it is waste and must be excreted, much the same way we excrete…waste. So, if we decide to hold on to that of the flesh, the waste builds up. The more the waste builds up, the less life the new food can give. We become blocked, spiritually constipated. 🙂 If we choose to be born again, to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, and get rid of the waste of the flesh, then we can continue to receive the new life. But if we choose to not sit on His Holy Porcelain Throne (did I really just go there?), then we can become so full of some habitual incorrect thinking that we fall into unbelief. And that leads to pride in the flesh. Which profits nothing.
So, flush away the waste, dear saints, take the Browns to the Super Bowl, drop the kids off at the pool, and be born again!