Commands of Christ

Be Born Again

Where is this command found?

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of 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. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

John 3:5-7

Applying This Command

A marvelous transformation occurs in the life of a person who is born again. Paul explains the change in this way, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

The word become is in the perfect indicative tense, which indicates that the action has already been completed in the past but has continuing results in the future. This emphasizes two aspects of our salvation.The first is our position in Christ. The second is our experience as we grow in Christ. A new believer takes on the righteousness of Christ and is righteous in Him. However, he is to exercise the energy of the Holy Spirit in carrying out righteous deeds. We are holy in our position before God, but we are also instructed to “perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord.” (See I Peter 1:16 and II Corinthians 7:1.)

When God’s life flows into us through new birth, there will be several clear indications that something wonderful has taken place. For some people, these evidences of new birth will be immediate and dramatic; with others, they may develop more slowly.

The Holy Spirit enters the life of the new believer and creates a hunger for more of the Word that brought him salvation. It is through this Word that growth will take place. Therefore, Peter exhorted believers, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (I Peter 2:2). The Holy Spirit also convicts a new believer of words, thoughts, or actions that are displeasing to the Lord. It is through the sharpened conscience of a new believer and the correct responses to the Spirit’s leading that he grows to maturity. A born-again believer suddenly becomes a member of a large family — one composed of every other believer throughout the world.


Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on John 3:7, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Be Born Again.

John 3:5–6

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of 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.”

Ephesians 4:22–24

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

John 1:12–13

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

I Peter 1:23

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

I Peter 2:2

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

John 14:1

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

Romans 10:9

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

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Study Question

Q: Why did Jesus tell Nicodemus a story from the life of Moses rather than using the prophecies of Isaiah to explain the new birth? (See John 3:14 and Isaiah 53.)

A: Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. No doubt he was concerned, as other leaders were, about the harsh conditions of being under Roman rule. He had probably murmured about the Jews’ circumstances, just like the nation of Israel had murmured about the harsh conditions they faced in the wilderness.

While Moses was leading the children of Israel, they forgot the mighty works of God and were overwhelmed by their present circumstances. Their murmuring caused God to send poisonous snakes among the people. Those who were bitten died until the people finally recognized the judgment of God upon them and cried out to Moses to pray for deliverance. God answered Moses’s prayer with instructions to “make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole” (Numbers 21:8). However, in order for it to be an effective cure, the person who was bitten had to look at the serpent made of brass.

No doubt, in the mixed multitude of Moses’s day, there were those who mocked and ridiculed the ones who looked at the snake. It is likely that Nicodemus had similar pressures upon him from other religious rulers who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah. Scripture notes that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, possibly to avoid persecution for seeking Him out. (See John 3:2.)

Jesus used an illustration from the Old Testament that would be familiar to a devout Jew like Nicodemus. The brass serpent that was placed upon the pole represented the Israelites’ sin. Similarly, when Jesus was nailed to the cross, He became sin for us by taking our sin upon Himself. Therefore, just as the Israelites in the wilderness had to look to the brass serpent in order to live, so also Nicodemus would have to look to the Lord Jesus Christ to have eternal life. (See John 3:14–15.)

For Further Study

You can learn more about the command Be Born Again in the book Commands of Christ: Series 7.

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