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) There is much more to being born again than saying a prayer. Jesus was surprised that Nicodemus did not already know this. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? (John 3:10) Why should Nicodemus have known and why should we not understand it today?
“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. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
We begin with the realization that we have all sinned. (Romans 3:23) Sin is anything that does not conform to God’s moral law. We sin by action such as lying, stealing, or gossiping. We sin in attitude such as lusting, envying, or having false pride. We also have inherited a sinful nature that through Adam sin entered the world.
Peter reminds us of John’s call to repentance and echoes the promise in Ezekiel, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38) When we repent God cleanses us of our sins – the slate is cleaned and there is no record of and wrong doing.
God cleanses us from our idols. Oregin, an early church father, said that whatever is of primary importance in our life becomes our god or idol. It can be money, power, a girl, or even a motorcycle. God realigns our priorities and He becomes first.
I will give you a new heart. Think of a fighter who has lost the heart to battle. He is defeated before he begins. Moreover, God promises to rekindle the fire by giving us a heart of flesh and fuel it with a new spirit.
I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and follow my laws. John 8:32 says, “know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Following God’s decrees and laws without the Spirit, is living under slavery, but with the Spirit it becomes our nature to follow the law. A criminal lawyer explained to me that the law exists only for those who break it. It defines what they can get away with. An honest citizen does not need the law to guide him in living a life of integrity. He naturally keeps the law.
How is this all made possible since the penalty of sin is death? “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) The penalty of sin is spiritual death and that death is visible in the lives of those who sin. We could never pay the debt we owe God so Jesus, God’s only son, took upon himself the penalty and paid it in full. Through His sacrifice we are brought into a right relationship with God.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
What does it mean to be a disciple? It is a student who learns from his teacher and desires be like the teacher – in this case Jesus. When we believe in Christ the Holy Spirit indwells us and guides us in spiritual truth. The Holy Spirit
- Convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment leading individuals to a saving knowledge of Christ
- Indwells believers from the moment of conversion sealing and guaranteeing our inheritance in Christ Jesus.
- Baptizes in the Spirit empowering believers to bear witness
- Produces the fruit of the Spirit within believers
- Gives us wisdom and insight into what God has given us
- Counsels in truth
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ (Acts 22:16)