Thursday, May 28, 2020
We live in a world that is seemingly driven by opinions far more often than facts. Opinions are the product of several factors. One such filter is our past experiences, through which we see and hear facts and then interpret meaning and motive. So that I don’t get overly philosophical today, I will let those of you who want to evaluate that concept do it on your own time.
When Nicodemus came to Jesus, he heard the teaching of Jesus through the filter of his personal experience. When Jesus said to him, ”Unless you are born again you cannot see the Kingdom of God,” Nicodemus had an opinion of what Jesus meant. He interpreted what Jesus said in a purely physical sense. With all of his understanding of the Old Testament Scripture, Nicodemus had been conditioned by his religious experience to interpret things from an outside in perspective. What I mean is that to Nicodemus, and possibly you, spiritual life is earned by outward activity. His opinion was that any spiritual truth must have an external application before it has any internal value.
Jesus was about to turn everything upside down. When Nicodemus heard Jesus say “born again” he heard the physical act of birth. But Jesus actually said that he must be “born from above.” Jesus went on to say that unless a person is born with water and the Spirit they cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That statement has caused much confusion for people, but if we see the whole context of what Jesus is teaching, it gets easier. Jesus helps Nicodemus understand what He means by referring to his knowledge of the Old Testament. So let’s look there in Ezekiel 36:25-27.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Here’s my point. Jesus is telling Nicodemus that there is nothing he can do to make himself clean enough for the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus was of the opinion that he had a moral obligation based on the law of God to physically participate in his own cleansing from sin, thereby establishing his own credentials for entrance into God’s Kingdom. Jesus flipped that opinion upside down with the truth that EVERY aspect of spiritual transformation is from above. The clean water is from God alone, not from a religious ritual like baptism. Obedience to God’s law does not improve our standing with God, but when God puts the Holy Spirit in us through faith in Jesus Christ we become obedient children of the Father. EVERY credential for entrance into the Kingdom of God is granted by God through Jesus Christ, without any assistance from us.
You may have a differing opinion. Be careful not to trust your eternal destiny to opinion. Trust the absolute truth of what Jesus said. “Unless you are born from above you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” The only valid credential you carry into eternity is faith in Jesus Christ alone.