You must be born again —John 3:7*
The answer to Nicodemus’ question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” is: Only when he is willing to die to everything in his life, including his rights, his virtues, and his religion, and becomes willing to receive into himself a new life that he has never before experienced (John 3:4*). This new life exhibits itself in our conscious repentance and through our unconscious holiness.
“But as many as received Him. . .” (John 1:12*). Is my knowledge of Jesus the result of my own internal spiritual perception, or is it only what I have learned through listening to others? Is there something in my life that unites me with the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior? My spiritual history must have as its underlying foundation a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. To be born again means that I see Jesus.
“. . . unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God ” (John 3:3*). Am I seeking only for the evidence of God’s kingdom, or am I actually recognizing His absolute sovereign control? The new birth gives me a new power of vision by which I begin to discern God’s control. His sovereignty was there all the time, but with God being true to His nature, I could not see it until I received His very nature myself.
“Whoever has been born of God does not sin. . .” (1 John 3:9*). Am I seeking to stop sinning or have I actually stopped? To be born of God means that I have His supernatural power to stop sinning. The Bible never asks, “Should a Christian sin?” The Bible emphatically states that a Christian must not sin. The work of the new birth is being effective in us when we do not commit sin. It is not merely that we have the power not to sin, but that we have actually stopped sinning. Yet 1 John 3:9* does not mean that we cannot sin— it simply means that if we will obey the life of God in us, that we do not have to sin.
from My Utmost for His Highest
*John 3:1-12: There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
*1 John 3:9-10: Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
The word, ‘Christian,’ can be interpreted to mean ‘follower of Christ,’ or ‘of Christ.’ How then, can a Christian sin? This isn’t to debate who is and isn’t a supposed ‘true Christian,’ but rather to point out that we all go about calling ourselves to be of One thing, but take the actions of another, that other being the world. Let's face it: we still sin, sometimes without realizing it, sometimes, quite knowingly. And that is inherently contradictory to the term Christian. How then do we reconcile this with 1 John, which appears to state quite the opposite?
My only answer to say that our souls have been reborn, not our flesh (yet). And our flesh is still quite capable of rebelling against God. We must still walk with God, and continue to grow, in order to be a Christian as we claim ourselves to be. When ‘one is born again, he will see the Kingdom of God.’ In the spirit realm, we are under the control of God. He has that side taken care of. But we still battle in the realm of flesh. And we are not to let any lost on the side of the flesh interfere with God’s work on the spirit.