Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.”
~Jesus, John 3:6-7
When we come into this world we all start out as babies. Babies have very little knowledge of anything, including who they are themselves. Babies have to learn and grow. They have to make mistakes and hurt themselves to figure out how their bodies work, as well as how the world works around them. But no matter what they do, they’ll always be exactly who they are from the moment they were first born. No incorrect choice, thought, or attitude can ever change a baby’s identity. Nor could a correct choice, thought, or attitude, change it’s identity. Identity is final at birth.
Further, babies can’t be unborn from their mom once they’re born. This might be a strange way to look at an infant, but when you apply these same truths to our spirits being born, our spiritual identity begins to make perfect sense. Jesus knew this, and it was His entire point in John 3, when He was speaking to Nicodemus:
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.'” (John 3:6-7)
Jesus was telling him, “You came from your momma’s belly, in the flesh. So now, your new spirit must come from the Spirit of God.” If we back up just a verse, we can see this:
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5)
Now, the person who is confused about the gospel, they’ll say, “See Matt, water! Jesus said water! If you want to enter the Kingdom of God you have to be baptized!”
Friend, I’m sorry, but that’s not what Jesus is referring to here. Sure, we need to be baptized to be saved–but not in any liquid. There’s not any amount of any liquid in all the universe that can wash away our sin. Water baptism is a celebration of our spiritual birth, it doesn’t cause our spiritual birth. Any author of the New Testament who says we must be baptized to be saved is speaking spiritually. Baptized simply means to place inside of and that’s exactly what happens to our spirits when we first believe in Christ. Our spirits get placed inside of God’s Spirit. This can only happen by way of grace through our faith (see Colossians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 2:8-9).
You can baptize a Satanist in a hot tub 50 times in front of a church full of people, all while shouting, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!” That still won’t save them. Their spirit must be baptized into God’s. Baptism of the flesh achieves nothing, we must believe (see John 6:63).
But back to the subject at hand: being born of water and spirit. When Jesus said water He was talking about the sac of water our physical bodies came from when we were inside Mom. I’m a twin, so I shared this water sac with my brother, Mark. However, when Jesus said we must also be born of the Spirit, He was talking about His very own Spirit!
So how do we become born of His Spirit? Believe! The Bible says so!
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
“Yeah right, Matt! Even the demons believe!”
That’s true. Every demon knows full well who Jesus is–and they’re afraid of Him (see James 2:19). However, they are not believing in Him for the forgiveness of their sins, we are. They are already damned to hell, we aren’t! That’s why once we believe, we receive His Spirit into ours, and we are reborn in our spirit! Being born in our spirit is unchangeable, just like being born in our flesh is unchangeable!
“Nope! You’re wrong, Matt! You can walk away from God and not be born of Him any longer!”
How’s that? Can you walk away from being born from your mom? No, of course not. If you have a constant terrible attitude, awful behavior, or even deny being born of your mom, will those things cause you to have never been born? No. Will a proper lifestyle and awesome-looking behavior cause you to be more born or to stay born? Friend, no. Nothing can change your physical DNA. You are born one time. Nothing can change your spiritual DNA. You are born one time.
Our poor choices or self-righteous attitudes might be ruining our lives and the lives of others, but even still, our identity remains the same. We must begin to separate who we are from what we do in order to fully understand what God has done to our spirits as His children. There is no other way. Being born from our Heavenly Father–once it’s happened, is final.
So for the person who claims they no longer believe, they either never believed in the first place or they have forgotten who they are. John explains:
“They went out from us, but they never really belonged to us.” (See 1 John 2:19)
Some Christians have just had so much religion they want nothing more to do with it. They run for the hills because of the double-talk, guilt, condemnation, and cliques. But that doesn’t mean they were never born of God’s Spirit. Paul tells Timothy the truth about the believers who forget their identity:
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (See 2 Timothy 2:13)
What does “for he cannot disown himself” mean? He’s talking about God’s Spirit being in our spirits. Once that has happened, through the moment of our spiritual birth, it can’t unhappen. Our birth is complete! Paul tells the Ephesians:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:32)
We are sealed up forever with His Spirit! The day of redemption is the day Jesus returns! When we forget this, we grieve Him with our unholy actions and attitudes, but make no mistake, grief is not anger–it’s grief! Grief is what a loving parent exudes when they want better for their child! God’s anger was satisfied in full at the Cross, so now He counsels us away from stupid stuff, but He’s not mad! He only gets mad at sin and Jesus has taken our sin away! (See John 1:29, Hebrews 8:12).
Are we learning and growing? Yes! Are our minds being renewed by God’s Spirit in us? Yes! But we are complete today! Our spirits are 100% sanctified today! Sanctified simply means holy! Holy simply means set apart! Our spirits have been set apart from the world and are currently enjoying heaven today because we’ve been born of God and heaven is inside of us! (See Ephesians 2:6).
So today, my friends, ask yourself: “Who am I?” If you believe Jesus is your Savior–one time–you are God’s child! Your old, sinful spirit was put to death! You’ve been literally crucified with Christ in the spiritual realm, and you’ve been reborn as a new, perfect, heaven-ready spirit, who is joined with God’s Spirit! (See Romans 6:6-7). You became a new creation who is connected to Christ from the millisecond your first believed! (See Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17). Never confuse your who with your do! Instead, live out your heavenly heritage with love! Love is in your DNA! Forgiveness is in your DNA! Hope is in your DNA! Confidence and courage is in your DNA! You are a child of God!
A prayer for you: Dad, thank you for being my Dad. Thank you for allowing me to be your child, by grace, through faith. What an amazing gift it was to be freely born into your family! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them have been lied to about who they really are. If they have believed in Jesus, they are your kids. However, some of them have been taught that their choices and mindsets can change their spiritual birth–reveal the truth! Reveal that we are your children forever! Give these dear readers confidence in who they are as they grow in the knowledge of their spiritual identity! In Jesus’ name, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!