“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit’” John 3:5.
Eternal life depends on being born again. New birth is the creation of new life, not the imitation of life. Religion can masquerade as new life, but new birth makes the old new... it brings the dead to life. Religion affirms the supernatural in Christ, while new birth is experiencing the supernatural in ourselves. There is quite a difference between man-made religion and being born again. Nicodemus had lots of religion. But he had no spiritual life. He saw the supernatural work of Jesus but did not experience the supernatural work of God in himself. It is the Holy Spirit that makes new life in Christ both spiritual and supernatural.
In John 3:6 Jesus explains to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jesus was telling Nicodemus that the flesh (physical body) does have a kind of life. Every human being is living flesh, but not every human being is living spirit. To be a living spirit (have spiritual life) we must be “born of the Spirit,” Jesus says. The flesh gives one type of life, and the Spirit gives another. If we don’t have the life given by the Spirit, we will not see the kingdom of God.
What happens in the new birth is not an improvement of our human nature but the creation of an entirely new nature. This new nature is forgiven and cleansed. It is being formed in us by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In John 3:5 Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he “is born of water and the Spirit.” What did Jesus mean?
“Water and Spirit” explain the two facets of our newness when we are born again. Remember, the new birth is not an improvement of our lives, but the creation of a brand new life. This comes in two parts. The first is the cleansing of the old, which is the forgiveness of our sins. The second is the creation of new life. Both are necessary in order to be right with God. Something must be done about our sin; and we also must be given a way to live, since sin brought spiritual death.
Ezekiel explained the coming work of Christ and the New Covenant this way: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” Ekekiel 36:25-26. In this prophecy we see both cleansing of the old heart and creation of a new heart. This is what it means to be born again.
Father, Thank You for the new life You have given me through faith in Jesus. You have not only forgiven my sins, You have made me new, different, and holy. Now I can obey You and know You and glorify You now, and look forward to living eternally with You in heaven. Please use me today to show others the way to life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.