What about You? Are You New?
New Year’s Day! Another year is upon us! Today is the first day of 2023! It's also the first day of the month, and the first day of the week. Everything is new: new year, new month and new week. How about you? Are you new? What do I mean by that? Have you experienced what theologians call the new birth?
Jesus speaks of this new birth in John chapter 3:1-8:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus at 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 responded and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a person be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.”
Born of the Spirit, born of God, the new birth, regeneration…all ways to describe being born again. Every one of us alive today have been born physically. That is the kind of birth we celebrated a week ago on Christmas Day – Jesus’ physical birth. However, not everyone has been born spiritually. How about you?
How does being born again even work? The first thing we must understand is that this is something that God does. It’s His doing, not ours. To be born again is a supernatural work of God where He freely gives spiritual life to a person who was – up until that point – spiritually dead.
It's something that isn't natural – it’s supernatural!
It's not of this world – it’s out of this world!
It's not something that you do yourself – it’s done for you.
You don't simply wake up one day and say, “Today I've decided to be born again.” That's not how it works. You have as much to do with this spiritual birth as you did with your physical birth, which is nothing. What did you do to be born physically? Not much, right? You just showed up on the scene and said, “Here I am!”
The new birth is the same way. Does that mean that we just sit back and wait for this to happen? No. We are called to recognize our sinful condition before a holy God. And in light of that understanding, the only correct response is to repent and believe the gospel. Turn from sin and turn to Christ.
This is not an option. This isn’t for the spiritually elite. This is for anyone who desires to come to Christ and have their sins forgiven. Jesus said it’s an absolute necessity! There’s no salvation apart from repentance and faith. Why?
We all start out the same way. From our birth as little babies we all start out spiritually dead. We aren't interested in God. We don't seek for God. We're corrupt. We're not born good; we’re born evil. Born with a selfish sinful heart that doesn't desire the things of God, let alone God Himself.
This is what scripture teaches. That means no one is born a Christian. We ALL must be born again. That is exactly what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3.
So the paramount question for you to consider is this: HAVE YOU BEEN BORN AGAIN?
If you think the answer to that is yes, then how can you tell? The Bible says it will become evident in how you live your life.
Let’s conclude with seven probing questions. Ask these in the privacy of your own heart. As we embark upon another year, take a moment for a spiritual check-up and do what the Scriptures say, examine yourself. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
1. Do you hunger for God’s Word, the Bible?
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:1-3
2. Do You Pray Regularly?
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
3. Do You Desire God?
As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1,2
4. Do You Love Fellow Believers?
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 1 John 3:14
5. Have You Experienced Separation and/or Rejection from the World?
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
6. Do You Have Godly Sorrow that Leads You to Repentance?
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
7. Do You See a Decreasing Pattern of Sin in Your Life?
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:6,7