John 3:5 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. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
These words of solemn import which were spoken not only to Nicodemus, but also to every generation, were given in response to a sincere desire to know the truth. Nicodemus came by night for an interview with Christ, for fear of being ridiculed by his peers, and that's alright with Jesus, for it does not matter whether we come by night or by day, once we keep coming. In the Jewish culture back then, great emphasis was placed on a person's genealogy, for being born into the Hebrew faith was considered a guaranteed passport to heaven by most Jews. That's why Christ immediately set the tone of the conversation, by stating one of the most profound truths of all time, "Ye must be born again".
Salvation is not inherited, neither is it passed on to future generations genetically, for although we may be born of Christian parentage, and surrounded with Christian influences and truths from birth, yet we are all carnally minded, and as such will require a complete change of heart in order to pass through the pearly gates. This is the sacred truth that Jesus endeavored to pass on to Nicodemus and all those who desire the immortal life.
In describing the condition of the natural heart, the apostle Paul also shows us that it is impossible for those who are not born again to please God, even though strenuous efforts to do so may be made over the course of one's lifetime. Let's read:
Romans 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Some may be wondering what is meant by being in the flesh. It means doing what human beings who are not born again naturally do. Let's read:
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
For instance, if one child has candy, and another tries to take it away, there will most likely be a scuffle, in which the one who has the candy will stand up for his rights by defending his candy bar from the other child. However, if those two children are "Born again" Christians, the one who has the candy will be more than willing to share, or to give it all up to the other child if need be, for the sake of peace. This latter attitude is completely foreign to human nature, and that's why Christ said we must be born again.
In our day there are efforts made to be "Good" without God, and very many people have embarked on a journey to reach spiritual fulfillment and true goodness, without surrendering themselves to be recreated by God, from whom all righteousness and true goodness flows. In their efforts some may actually experience the joy of helping others, and their hearts may be filled with satisfaction as they reminisce on the happiness they brought into the lives of the less fortunate. Yet, like the rich young ruler who Jesus earnestly appealed to, there is an unexplainable void and emptiness deep within their hearts, a void that can only be filled by being born again, so that the Holy Spirit can take up residence in the mind.
Even as Christians we need to be very careful that we do not go it alone, by endeavoring to accomplish real good without seeking Christ daily for an infilling of His Holy Spirit, for whatsoever is done apart from God will not stand. We therefore end with a passage of scripture which reminds us of our continual need of the Savior, so that the work of renewing our minds can take place on a daily basis. Let's read:
John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
May we invite the presence of God into our hearts from day to day so that the work of spiritual renewal may take place without interruption. "Good night" and God bless!