That’s what Nicodemas was asking, when Jesus told him “You must be born again.” Nicodemas was a Pharisee, a teacher of the Law; but he recognized that Jesus was a greater teacher. He had seen the works that Jesus had done.
Jesus explains that our first birth is not good enough, that we must be born of the Spirit.
Because I grew up in church, that term was not unfamiliar to me as it was to Nicodemas; but even then, I don’t believe that I gave it as much thought as it required. How does one become born again? Can we do it ourselves? Is it important for salvation?
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. 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:5-8 KJV
So, how do I know that I have been born again? What does it mean to be born again, and why do I need to be born again? The new birth is necessary because we are all born spiritually dead as a result from the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. With Adam, sin entered the world, so that all are born in sin and unable to please God, and walk perfectly before him as he is perfect.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:10-11,23 KJV
The Spirit of God must make us alive, a representation of this occurs when Ezekiel, the prophet,, was told to preach to the dry bones in the valley, and once he did the bones came together, and flesh covered the bones but still there was no life until the wind of the Spirit breathed on them. See Ezekiel 37:1-10. This is what must happens to us because we too are spiritually dead.
Another way it is described is also found in Ezekiel 36.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine |ordinances|, and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27 KJV
I cannot perform this new birth myself. God must do it. It is God who draws me, awakens me to my sin, and my need for a Savior. It is God who grants me the will, mind to repent and believe that Jesus Christ paid my sin debt in full, so that I can be saved from the wrath of God and penalty of sin. That faith is a gift. See Ephesians 2:1-8. I cannot manufacture this faith without the work of God.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:37,44 KJV
The new birth, will on an ongoing basis, make me aware and convict me when I sin, so that I confess and repent. It will make me want to obey God and his commandments. It will make me want to be around other believers. It will give me new appetites and desires that are godly. I will have a desire for the Word of God for it will be my guide for living.
I believe that Nicodemas later experienced the new birth that Jesus spoke to him about earlier. There will be evidence. There will be fruit. You may even be willing to risk your life. Have you experienced the new birth?
You will recognize that you are not the same. You will be ever growing more like him. Will you perfectly obey the Lord in what he says in his Word, our guide for life? No, but you will strive to please him because you love him and are indebted to him.
Have you experienced the new birth?