Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).
The words which Jesus originally told Nicodemus, a respected Jewish leader, apply to us as well. Unless we are born again, we will not enter heaven, even though we may be religious, attend church, read the Bible, pray, and try to live a good life.
Why should a person be ‘born again’? Why is this radical change necessary? The Bible describes the desperate condition of man’s natural state. He is not just ill or weak — the natural man is ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Ephesians 2:1). His mind is not subject to God’s will, and though he may be religious, he does not seek after the true God. He has no living relationship with the Lord and he can’t do anything about it.
Therefore it is not a matter of turning a new leaf or resolving to live better. Religious rites (like circumcision or baptism) cannot help either – Nicodemus was circumcised but he still needed to be born anew. Many baptized people show no signs of spiritual life.
There is no ‘how to’ formula to be born again. It is neither a human work nor is it initiated by the human will. Infants do not induce, or cooperate in, their own procreation and birth; no more can those who are ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ prompt the life-giving operation of God. His children are born ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13). God gives life to whoever he wills.
Once a person is born again, he instinctively cries out to God, for now he is a child of the Father. Whereas the new birth is not produced by man, its effects are clearly seen in man. The apostle John gives three tests as evidence that a person is spiritually alive and well.
1. Faith: Previously he did not think much of Jesus. Now he trusts only in the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, whom the Father sent to accomplish our salvation. ‘Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God’ (1 John 5:1).
2. Holiness: The child of God grows to become like his Father. He hates what God hates and loves the things God loves. He fights against sin and temptation and willingly obeys the commandments of God. ‘Whoever has been born of God does not sin … everyone who practices righteousness is born of him’ (1 John 3:9; 2:29).
3. Love: The child of God learns love from his Father; he desires to serve all people, especially his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. ‘Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God’ (1 John 4:7).
When you examine yourself in the light of the Word of God, can you honestly say, ‘Yes, I am born again’?