Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 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. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:1-7 NASB
When we are born into this world, from our mother’s wombs, we are born of physical water. When we are born into this world, we are also born of human flesh, but not just physical human flesh, but of the sin nature, due to the fall of Adam (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49). So, when we are born physically, and we are thus born with sin natures, we are separate from God, without hope of eternal life with God (Rom. 3:23).
So, in order to have eternal life with God, and to enter into the kingdom of God, we must be born of the Spirit of God, which is a spiritual birth, not a physical one, not of physical water, either, but of the kind of water Jesus offered the woman at the well, which is the Spirit of God, which is eternal life with God.
We cannot enter into this eternal life with God via the flesh, though, either through works of the flesh to try to gain favor with God or via our sin natures, just trying to add Jesus on top of the flesh, but not allowing him to truly transform us from death to life, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so we can receive forgiveness of sins.
There are many people who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, whose faith is of the flesh, not of the Spirit. They are still holding on to their own lives, willing to share them somewhat with the Lord, but holding back much, and still holding on to control, to the management of their lives.
They make an effort to hand things over to the Lord, only they do it on their own terms, in their own flesh, of their own making, and thus they just make a mess of it all. They won’t let go, and let God have Lordship over their lives. And, many of these people, then, wonder why they can’t get victory over sinful addictions, because they are not willing to let the Lord take them off their plate; they are not willing to let go of them, and let the Lord take over.
Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died, not just to forgive us our sins, but to liberate us from them, and to free us to walk in his holiness, empowered by the Spirit. When we believe on him with divinely persuaded faith, which is of God, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. This is what it means to be “born again.”
If we want to be born of the Spirit, though, we must first die to the flesh, then we can be born anew, and given new lives in the Spirit. But, we can’t muster this up ourselves. We have to yield to the Lordship of Christ in our lives, let go of our past lives, repent of our sins, and own up to all our lies which we told to conceal the things we have done in the flesh – such things as immorality, gossip, fakery (hypocrisy), corruption, and whatever is dishonorable. And, we have to release control of our lives to the Lord, not still try to hold on to the power over our own lives, and make our own rearrangements, based on what we are willing to forgo and/or to accept.
The thing with this is, we may clean up our lives somewhat, and feel we have accomplished something, and we may even do this in order to convince others that we have had a genuine conversion, but flesh gives birth to flesh. We can’t, of the flesh, generate spiritual birth. We may look somewhat better on the outside, to make an impression on others, but we are still the same fleshly people as we were before, because we are still the ones on the throne of our lives, not the Holy Spirit, because we are still under self-management, and not under the Spirit’s management.
And, those who operate this way decide what they will or won’t do for God, not doing what God says, but choosing their own path of righteousness, which is no path of righteousness at all, but the way of the flesh, and the way of destruction. And, this is not just those who try to earn their way to salvation via works of the flesh, but it is those who believe they are saved, but who have believed with fleshly faith, not resulting in death to sin and living to righteousness, but resulting in slightly cleaned up flesh, but it is still flesh, anyway you look at it.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18 NASB
When we read John 3:16, we must read it in the context of the whole of the chapter, for, beginning to end, it tells us what it means to “believe,” in Jesus Christ. It means we must be born again of the Spirit of God, not of the flesh of man. It means death to sin, a spiritual transformation of mind and heart, and it means new life in Christ Jesus, to be lived to his righteousness. It means, too, bringing our sins into the Light where they will be exposed for what they are, so that we can now walk in the light and no longer in the darkness. And, it means yielding our lives over to Christ, letting go of our pasts, and now walking in his light, following him wherever he leads us.
It also means responding to God’s voice, and doing what he asks, instead of trying to make it into heaven by good deeds, or instead of remaining in the flesh and still having power over our own lives, yet giving God a cursory nod his direction, when it suits us, as long as it does not interfere with how we want to live our lives. Either way, we are still trying to be saved by operating in the flesh, and neither way results in genuine salvation. Flesh is still flesh.
Some people get confused about what entails “works-based” salvation. They think that if they just pray some words and say they believe and they start going to church that it means heaven is now guaranteed them. And, this is because they didn’t try to earn their salvation by good deeds. But, if they are still operating in the flesh, still the one maintaining control over their own lives, they are still in the flesh, not in the Spirit. Yes, we can’t earn our way to heaven via good deeds of the flesh, but neither can we have heaven guaranteed us if we have not been born again of the Spirit of God, but we are still in the flesh, because we never yielded our lives to Christ.
True salvation involves us cooperating with God’s work of grace in our lives, by yielding to his Lordship, dying with him to sin and living with him to righteousness, empowered and led by the Spirit of God. It means when God says, “Repent,” i.e. have that change of mind, to where we now have the same mind as him about sin and about righteousness, then we must do it, under his direction, and in his power working within us. This means we have now moved over to God’s side, to his way of thinking. This means he is now top priority in our lives, too, instead of the flesh being top priority.
When God says, “Come here and do this,” then we do it, not as a way to earn his grace, but because of our relationship with him, we want to do what he says.
Fear of Exposure
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3:19-21 NASB
There are people who profess faith in Jesus Christ who cozy up to God, go through the motions of prayer, praise, and the reading of the Word of God, but who are still operating in the flesh. They are living in the flesh, doing what is opposed to God and his Word, while making a pretense that they are his sons and daughters, free from their chains, with Christ as Lord of their lives.
But, they are liars and deceivers who masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness, when, in reality, they are serving the appetites of their own flesh, and the devil. Yet, their false professions of faith, while making a pretense of righteousness and love for God, is an offense to God, like smoke in his nostrils (Is. 65:5). For, he is not fooled by their charades.
With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 2 Pet. 2:14-15 NIV
The thing of it is, they are not just harming themselves, but they are taking many others down with them through trickery, lies, fabricated doctrines of salvation, false persuasion, manipulation, and seduction, etc. They won’t come into the light, lest their evil deeds be exposed, too. Instead, they cleverly conceal the truth of what they are doing in the darkness, so that they can deceive naïve minds into believing their fairytales. Thus, they are hindering the truth of the gospel from getting into people’s minds because they are filling their minds with so many lies.
Yet, God will judge them. And, he will judge those who are “in bed” with them, too. God is going to take them through a time of hardship, which I can’t help but believe is a picture of America, so that they will turn their hearts to the Lord, and so he can revive and renew their hearts. And, this, brothers and sisters in Christ, is an act of God’s love towards us, for he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure…
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 7:25 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus!