Chapter 6. Being Born Again
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Peter 1:23).
Letting go of prideWhen Jesus was on earth, He was constantly watched and regarded with suspicion by the Pharisees (religious leaders of the Jewish nation). One evening under the cover of darkness, a Pharisee of high position and education, named Nicodemus, came to talk with Jesus.
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).Nicodemus didn't understand the concept of being born again.
"How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb?" (John 3:3).Jesus proceeded to explain the concept of faith, the work of the Holy Spirit and why Jesus was here on earth. He made it clear that it is not just theoretical knowledge you need, but rather spiritual regeneration. You do not need to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. Focusing only on the most rigid obedience to God's instructions (the letter of the law) applied to the outward life, is not the answer.
As Nicodemus learned, being born again is not a physical birth, but rather a spiritual birth or a renewing of the mind. It's meaning is essentially the same as receiving a new heart, but emphasizes the importance of letting go of pride and embracing truth in order to start right. Pride, or holding yourself up in an inaccurate light or at the expense of others, goes directly against the principles of God's kingdom and the character transformation process. A good character is not worried about propping itself up above others. Pride could be the most ardent opponent you will meet on this journey. Pride works against the Holy Spirit with great intensity. It must be let go before you can proceed.
"...God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 4:6).
Study Jesus' Mission To Earth
"Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (John 18:37).The Bible highlights many reasons why Jesus came to this earth, including to set the captives free, to reveal the Father and to save His people from death. All of these culminate in one overarching goal: to bring us the truth. If Jesus hadn't come to earth, we would not only be believing in falsehoods, but we would have no way of even knowing we were deceived or any way of learning the truth. Jesus' mission to this earth made it possible for you to know the truth about yourself, the world, His character and His kingdom.
"For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
"Of his own will begat [breed forth, regenerate] he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (James 1:18).
"When the truth becomes an abiding principle in the life, the soul is 'born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.' This new birth is the result of receiving Christ as the Word of God. When by the Holy Spirit divine truths are impressed upon the heart, new conceptions are awakened, and the energies hitherto dormant are aroused to co-operate with God" (The Acts of the Apostles 520.1).
A war of thoughtsHave you ever thought that what you think isn't that important? It is easy to harbor certain thoughts that you know are wrong and feel as though it isn't that big of deal. In reality, that line of thinking couldn't be more harmful or further away from the truth. In fact, you are in a war: a war against erroneous and harmful thoughts.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).Read that text again. Incorrect thoughts are strongholds in your mind! Every time you embrace error and indulge pride, it's like reinforcing Fort Self. Once you hunker down inside Fort Self, it is hard for any good thought to penetrate.
But, God can, with your cooperation, work to overthrow your dangerous mental strongholds. He does this by revealing truth to you. You learn what God is really like and how He runs His government. You learn the goodness and rightness of His methods and why a selfish world can never produce eternal happiness. What you embrace in your mind are used as weapons either for or against Fort Self.
When truth is finally embraced, Fort Self crumbles, and God creates new strongholds in your mind. He helps you train your mind to focus on only those things that come from God. Being born again signals this change in thinking, from embracing error to truth.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Is. 26:3).
A fresh startBeing born again indicates a fresh start. This is an amazing opportunity! It may also seem out of reach. We can be so engulfed in the midst of life's situations that there seems to be no way out, no release from burdens, no relief from pain. Gaining this fresh start seems too good to be true. But, God promises it. He has the power to transform any life, no matter how hopeless a situation seems or what kind of trouble you may be in.
Definition:Being Born Again: Allowing truth to take the place of pride, selfishness and pretensions, as you surrender your selfish nature to Christ and He gives you a new heart and a fresh start.
The giving up of self and turning over your selfish nature to God results in the new birth. You will know it has occurred because you will start to see changes in your life, your desires will change, former vices won't have the same pull, you will want to cooperate with God. It is a miracle of unequalled significance. It offers evidence of the goodness and power of God to onlookers, and it provides incontrovertable proof to one's own self. When experienced and never forgotten, this is a never-ending anchor to Christ and truth.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again [born again] unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:3-5).Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ until years later, but he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the religious leaders to destroy Jesus. He also helped to bury Jesus, used his wealth in advancing the work of the gospel, and came forward in defense of the infant Christian church. Nicodemus was likely very excited when he finally "got it," and understood through experience what Jesus meant by being born again.
"The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world...Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ" (MS 148, 1897).
"The converting power of God can transform inherited and cultivated tendencies; for the religion of Jesus is uplifting. 'Born again' means a transformation, a new birth in Christ Jesus" (The Adventist Home 206.1).
"The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies" (Lift Him Up 123.4).Next Bible Term: Breaking Free of Bondage
Conversion: The singular instance in time when you become willing and equipped to begin the process of true character transformation.
Overcoming: The process of character transformation and development.
Authentication: The testing and proving of character and its rewards.