Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again (from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.” [John 3:3, 7, parenthesis added]
I clearly remember the day my firstborn arrived. We drove to the hospital as two then drove home as three. Someone else was in the car—my daughter.
I confess, it felt strange having another person around. The previous home routine was pretty normal. Get up, go to work, come home, chill for a while, and go to bed—and sleep the whole night through! We did what we wanted and went where we wanted. However, that all changed with a new birth.
New birth implies a change. Previous life, as we knew it, is passed away. The new life begins in all its newness. And the new birth wasn’t an “I think so” or I hope so” dilemma. When people asked, the answer was confidently, “Yes, I have a daughter.”
When Jesus met with Nicodemus, He said achieving the heavenly kingdom involved a new birth. Moving above the physical plane, He referred to a spiritual birth—birth from above. A rebirth outside ourselves. A new life only He can give.
Until my child arrived, there was no baby, no new birth, no newness of life. In spiritual terms, this new birth is called spiritual regeneration. Upon accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, His Holy Spirit “rebirths” us, revitalizes our spirits, and takes up residence in our hearts, the cores of our being. Until or unless this spiritual rebirth occurs, there is no new life, no power to live the Christian life. No birth, no baby, no life, no Family resemblance, no Holy Spirit living inside.
New Spiritual Birth
But when a new birth does take place, the apostle Paul tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old way of life (pre-birth) is gone; the new life is now here and things have changed. Paul further explains:
Sin’s power … was broken when we became Christians … a part of Jesus Christ; through his death the power of your sinful nature was shattered. Your old sin-loving nature was buried with him by baptism when he died; and when God the Father … brought him back to life again, you were given his wonderful new life to enjoy. For you have become a part of him, and so you died with him …when he died; and now you share his new life and shall rise as he did. Your old evil desires were nailed to the cross with him; that part of you that loves to sin was crushed and fatally wounded, so that your sin-loving body is no longer under sin’s control, no longer needs to be a slave to sin; for when you are deadened to sin you are freed from all its allure and its power over you. And since your old sin-loving nature “died” with Christ, … you will share his new life. So look upon your old sin nature as dead and unresponsive to sin, and instead be alive to God … through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:2-11, TLB, bold text added for emphasis)
I now realize, in my own life and also from observing others, the reason we struggle with sin is usually the result of one of two things. There’s no baby in the house or the newborn is malnourished.
No Baby in the House
Some people talk a great game about their spiritual rebirth. But when you chat with them, observe their lives, and hear their struggles, you have to wonder, “Where’s the baby?” It’s like listening to an excited couple gush about their cute nursery at home, little infant outfits they bought, daycare center cost and planning, and budgeted savings for college. Yet when you ask to see the baby, they got nothing. No pictures, no evidence, no birth certificate, nothing. No baby, no new birth, no new life, no infant growing stronger every day.
Quite possibly the reason some of us struggle with active sin or the absence of God’s power in our lives is because there has been no spiritual birth. This is a very personal, sensitive, and ultra-important matter for each person to face. Instead of trying to “fake-it-till-you-make-it,” it is eternally critical to settle this matter for sure. Invite Jesus into your life and accept Him as Lord and Savior. Accept His death on the cross of Calvary as your substitute for your sin’s penalty. Place your faith solely in Him, believing God raised Him from the dead and confessing Him alone as Lord. Ask His Spirit to take up residence inside and transform you from who you used to be. Thankfully, salvation through Him is not an “I think so” or “I hope so” proposition. It is an “I know so” reality (1 John 5:13).
Starving, Unhealthy Baby in the House
In other instances, maybe there is a baby in the house. The birth happened a while ago and yet the baby struggles. He can’t walk, talk, roll over, smile, laugh, or grab his toes. He just lays there sad, weak, and crying. Barring congenital medical or health issues, we would suspect malnutrition. “What are you feeding this baby?” Do you rock him, burp him, help him stand up? Do you change him as soon as he messes himself?”
As spiritual newborns, we need all the help we can get. From the inside, the Holy Spirit begins His transforming work. Yet He won’t do all the work Himself. Every believer needs to regularly “feed” the hungry baby within by feasting on God’s Word. Each must exercise his spiritual muscles (faith) by personalizing what he learns from God’s Word. After messing up, each should immediately ask God for forgiveness and cleansing. It is absolutely critical for every spiritually reborn person to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). This is the progression to gradually grow stronger in the new life God wants us to live while avoiding the old, sinful life we used to live.
If there is a new spiritual baby in your house, Hallelujah! Don’t starve it. Feed it, burp it, exercise it, protect it, keep it clean. Make a strong, healthy baby the main focus in life. As you grow spiritually, it may surprise you how less you struggle with things that used to hold you captive and how more receptive you are to things of God.