April 9, 2015
Nicodemus was a Pharisee who had heard Jesus speak and had seen the miracles He did. He was curious about these things and wanted answers. As a group, the Pharisees had many prejudices against Jesus. Instead of asking Him about what they heard Him say and saw Him do, these men only wanted to discredit and condemn Him. Nicodemus was part of this group, but instead of going along with his peers he decided to go to Jesus and ask questions. That is an important lesson to learn. If you are curious about Jesus don’t just go along with your peers, ask questions. “The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” John 3:2. Nicodemus acknowledged that Jesus was a great teacher and that the miracles He did could only be done by God’s power. This same acknowledgement is made by many lost people and cults today. They say that Jesus was a wise teacher and did great things, but they deny His deity. Nicodemus did what most people don’t do…he asked questions to find out the truth. Jesus began His answer by pointing to an important fact about Nicodemus’ spiritual condition. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” John 3:3. The Greek word “anōthen” is translated here as “again” and actually means “from above, from God, from God above, anew, over again”. Everyone is born once, but we can only be “anōthen”, or born again, if we are born of the Holy Spirit from God above. The Holy Spirit draws us to God, and He helps us to understand Scripture. First, Nicodemus needed to be born again.
Of course Nicodemus was confused, but he continued with his questions. “…How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” John 3:4. This was a very logical question. Nicodemus was looking for answers and rather than just skip over this point he asked questions to gain understanding. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6-7. Jesus said there are two births – one of the flesh and one of the Spirit. The water birth is the first one we all experience. This is the birth from our mother’s womb…being born of the flesh. The second birth is a choice we make and that is being born of the Spirit. When we accept Christ as our Saviour we are instantaneously born of the Spirit. Neither of these births can be undone. After a baby is born he cannot be unborn. When a person is born again he cannot be “unborn again”.
God’s word is very clear that changes happen in a person the moment they truly accept Christ as their Saviour. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. People like to complicate God’s word, and in so doing the simple truth is missed. No works are involved in becoming born again. Not baptism, not reciting a specific prayer, not listing all of your sins and repenting of them one by one, not fasting…there is nothing that saves you but faith. When you become a new creature in Christ a change takes place in your spirit and you are a new creation. No works are involved, but that change should be reflected in how you live. You should start seeing things as Christ does and your anger should ebb away, foul language should not flow from your lips, your fleshly desires should change to Godly desires, and so on. These changes sometimes take a while to accomplish, but that is the sanctification process. If your life does not reflect a change then you might want to take a hard look at yourself. Study God’s word and apply what Scripture says to your life. Make His ways your ways. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Ephesians 4:17-19. The non-Christian world cannot understand Christians and they continue in sin. They are blind and embrace sin because they are not born of the Spirit and ignorant of God’s truth. A Christian has no excuse for continuing in worldly pursuits and desires. Remember, we are a new creation.
The very instant that we say yes to Jesus Christ we are born again and sealed with the Holy Spirit. “…after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity and He lives inside of every Christian. When we choose to go against God’s word we take God with us into our sin. Still, we are sealed and He will convict us of sin and guide us to change. “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts,” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. God set His seal upon us and no one can undo that seal. It’s no accident that these verses are in the Bible; they encourage us in times of trouble and admonish us in times of doubt. We who are born again receive much comfort from these verses which tell us that the Holy Spirit is in us always and we can’t unseal ourselves and become lost. We enjoy a relationship with God that is completely misunderstood by the world, and even misunderstood by some Christians. This relationship is maintained by God Himself. In verse 21 above we read that God “stablisheth” us when we become born from above. This Greek word is “bebaioō” and it means “to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure”. God does this through His power, not ours. Outside of God we have no power, no firm foundation, and no hope.
I wonder just how many born again believers really focus on those truths mentioned above? God has sealed His Holy Spirit within each born again believer, we are firmly established, and anointed as partakers of all Heavenly gifts. This truth should humble the proudest heart, but it should also tell you that you have the power of God inside of you. Being born from above gives us new responsibilities; Jesus told us to tell others about the Gospel, His Gospel of truth. We all need to be out there working in our own mission field – your work place, neighborhood, and family – telling everyone about God’s love. “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:19-20. It took courage for Nicodemus to go against his peers and ask Jesus questions. There are many lost people around you who may not have the courage to go against their peers and ask you questions. Be bold and reach out to them. You have a wonderful treasure to share with the lost and you can’t wait for someone to ask you questions. You can’t wait for someone else to be a bold witness for Christ and share the Gospel. You need to be bold and share Christ with those around you. Share the new you by the way you conduct your life and the words you use, this may encourage a friend to ask about the change they see in you. Have compassion on the lost and witness to them with words and actions. Without Jesus, eternity means your friends will face eternal death and it’s up to you to answer to their questions. If you allow it, God will use you to help someone you know to become born from above. We are admonished to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. That doesn’t only mean travelling to a foreign land. You are surrounded by the world filled with worldly people who need to hear the Gospel.
Nicodemus took Christ’s words to heart. We know this because he and another member of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathaea, were there when Christ was crucified. “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” John 19:38-40. These two men were Jewish leaders, but were willing to make themselves ceremonially unclean by handling a dead body. Jesus words to Nicodemus made the difference in his life and also in Joseph’s life. The answers you give to a friend can make the difference in their life, too. You are a new creature in Christ and God lives in you. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to proclaim God’s love to everyone around you. You may be the one who leads someone to experience that joyous second birth.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13. The word “power” is translated from the Greek word “exousia” and means the power of choice or right. Most Bible translations use the word “right” instead of “power”. Everyone has a choice. We make the choice to accept Christ and become a son of God – a new creation. We also make the choice to reject Him and die in our sins. It’s your choice.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
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All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham