Intro: Why do so many converts fall away? Why are there so many hypocrites in churches? Because they were never really born again. Many people think born again Christians are no different than non-born again sinners. But they’re confused what it means to be born again.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, a religious Pharisee, ‘”I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (heaven)вЂ¦unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (heaven)вЂ¦You must be born again” (Jn. 3:3-7).
1. What Does Born Again Mean? 5 Misunderstandings
2. Why Do I Need to Be Born Again? 7 Reasons
3. What Is it Like to Be Born Again? 6 Pictures
4. How Can I Know if I’m Born Again? 5 Signs
5. How Can I Be Born Again? Hear the Good News
What Does Born Again Mean?
1. “I got baptized and joined a ‘born again church.” (But churches have hypocrites.)
2. “I had an emotional, religious experience.” (But Muslims have emotional, rel. exp.)
3. “I prayed a sinner’s prayer.” (But that wasn’t invented until the 19th century.)
4. “I believe Bible doctrine.” (But demons believe some doctrinal truths.)
5. “I changed from sinning to morality.” (But some alcoholics change without Christ. Trading one sin for another. Proud, self-righteous Pharisees. But when God gives new birth, He changes us from sin negatively to Christ positively: Treasuring Him, loving Him, fellowshipping with Him, worshiping Him, and obeying Him.)
Notice above, “I did…” But being born again is not what you do. It’s what God does to you. Example: You didn’t ask your parents to conceive you. They decided to conceive you.
Definition of born again: The Holy Spirit miraculously washes and changes us by giving new life, new understanding, new desires, and new power.
- “he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5).
What are we born into? We’re born into “life” (eternal life), united with Christ in His resurrection life…
- “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn. 5:11-12).
“just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrectionвЂ¦Now if we died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him” (Rom. 6:4-5, 8, 11).
That’s why “born again” means we’re born into new life with Christ.
Why Do I Need to Be Born Again?
1. Humans are spiritually dead, needing resurrection.
- “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, (satisfying) the (lusts) of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in (sins)” (Eph. 2:1-2).
Example: Preaching the good news to dead bodies in the cemetery.
2. Humans love darkness, and hate the light, needing new desires.
- “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (Jn. 3:19-20).
Example: Do you prefer to eat garlic or chocolate? Do you prefer sin or Christ?
3. Humans each have a hard heart, needing a new heart.
- “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26).
“you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Eph. 4:17-19).
Example: Heart attack patient. Is your heart hard or soft toward Christ?
4. Humans can’t understand spiritual truth, needing new understanding.
- “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
Example: Rocket science.
5. Humans are slaves to sin and Satan, needing to be set free.
- “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (Jn. 8:34).
“The Lord’s servantвЂ¦Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
6. Humans can’t come to Christ, call Him Lord, or obey Him, needing new power.
- “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn. 6:44).
“no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).
“the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8).
7. Humans are blind to the glory of Christ, needing new sight
- “The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the (good news) of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).
“OK, God says I need to be born again. But what does it mean to be born again?”
What Is it Like to Be Born Again?
The Bible contains at least 6 pictures (metaphors) of how God radically changes us.
1. New birth (synonyms: born again, born of God, born of the Spirit, and regeneration)
- “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).
“everyone who does what is right has been born of him” (1 Jn. 2:29; cf. Jn. 3:5-8).
“he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth (Greek: regeneration) and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5).
The big picture: God’s goals for history include a born again universe, with a born again earth, filled with born again peopleвЂ¦
- “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal (Greek: regeneration) of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt. 19.:28).
2. Born Again Is Like a New Creation
- “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation” (Gal. 6:15).
3. Born Again Is Like Resurrection From the Dead
- “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in (sins) вЂ“ it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ” (Eph. 2:5-6).
“Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1; cf. Rom. 6:4-5).
4. Born Again Is Like a Heart Transplant
- “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my commands and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezek. 36:26-27).
5. Born Again Is Like Circumcision of the Heart
- “In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ” (Col. 2:11-13).
“The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live” (Deut. 30:6).
6. Born Again Is Like Being Healed From Blindness
- “The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of GodвЂ¦For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4-6).
How Can I Know if I’m Born Again?
1. Born Again People Believe in Jesus
- “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (Jn. 1:12-13; cf. 1 Jn. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9).
Faith in Jesus Christ alone, not self, Mary, Church, etc.
2. Born Again People Stop Continual Sinning, and Start Doing Right
- “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him” (1 Jn. 2:29).
“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 Jn. 3:9).
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin, the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 Jn. 5:18).
Gradual, progressive growth, not sinless perfectionism. Example: Person who practiced lying for 50 years receives new birth.
3. Born Again People Overcome the World’s Ways
- “For everything in the world вЂ“ the desires of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does вЂ“ comes not from the Father but from the worldвЂ¦for everyone born of God has overcome the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 Jn. 2:15-16, 5:4).
4. Born Again People Love Their Christian Brothers
- “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1 Jn. 3:14).
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn. 4:7-8).
Who are you more comfortable with: Sinners or born again, Christ-lovers?
5. Born Again People Love God With All Their Heart
- “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live” (Deut. 30:6).
We’re born again into new life with Christ.
How Can I Be Born Again?
Through Hearing the Good News About Jesus
In the past, I didn’t understand, in John 3, why Jesus started explaining to Nicodemus “you must be born again,” then changed the topic to the good news. Now I understand: Because the way to be born again is by hearing the good news.
In John 3:3-7, Jesus explains 3 times to Nicodemus about being born again. In 3:9, Nicodemus says, “How?” Then in 3:13-21, Jesus answers by telling the good news about Himself.
- “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and lasting word of GodвЂ¦but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the (good news) that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23-25, ESV).
“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first harvest of all he created” (Jas. 1:18).
Do you need to be born again by God? Understand the good news about Jesus. Evangelists: Do you want to help others be born again? Tell them the good news about Jesus.
Christian: Be what you are. Live like you’ve been born again. What does the born again life look like?
- “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ThereforeвЂ¦” (Eph. 4:24 – 6:18).
“count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as hose who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness” (Rom. 6:4, 11-13).
Now do you understand why so many converts fall away, and why there are so many hypocrites in churches? Because they’ve never really been born again.
We’re born again into new life with Christ.
Recommended source: Finally Alive by John Piper