Jesus’ Conversation with Nicodemus, Part III, John 3:3-7
In this conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus we hear from Christ words which declare that the reality within which Nicodemus operates versus true reality are worlds apart.
From these words the Apostle Paul was able to write:
Romans 14:17 which says: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The world’s reality is indeed meat and drink!
The world takes all thought about meat and drink whereby Christ said take no thought about meat and drink or what ye shall wear.
So the reality of this world is diametrically opposed to what God created this world for and what will come as we pass from this world into His presence.
So Jesus who is light, brings light to Nicodemus for without the light of Christ, Nicodemus would remain in darkness.
We are not given to find light.
We have nothing within us to know light.
Light finds us.
Jesus will later teach this in John 6:44, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
And in this drawing Jesus gives new vision, a vision allowing you to see the kingdom of God, a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy.
Now the five words of Jesus, Ye must be born again, are words that the human mind or human nature must reject because they conflict with notions that people strongly cling to.
Self-righteousness or self-worth or self-value, so prominent in the seeking of meat and drink, is destroyed by this doctrine for this doctrine pronounces the death sentence on the sinful nature of man.
Nicodemus was of this sort for he depended upon his connection to God's chosen people and his standing among the Jews as a ruler of the Jews to gain him entrance into the presence of God.
He depended upon the pride of life.
He was part of the "in" crowd and now Jesus says that it is impossible for him to understand or know the kingdom of God.
But the problem is that we all, including Nicodemus, have a sin nature and God will not allow anyone who has not been given a new nature to see the kingdom of God.
None of us in our natural state are fit for the kingdom of God.
You cannot access the realm of God in your sin nature.
It is like trying to communicate on the wrong radio frequency.
It is like trying to speak to a nation of deaf people or operate in China while speaking Spanish or English.
But a new nature comes with the new birth.
Only with the new birth comes life, the kind of life that opens your spiritual eyes to the things of God, spiritual things, things which are enjoyed by those regenerated here upon the Earth.
Paul amplifies this teaching in:
I Cor. 2:10 and 14, But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God…….. But the natural man recieveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Also in Hebrews 12:14,...without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
Holiness is accessed only through the new birth.
The natural man does not know this.
This was verified by Nicodemus, a natural man, in his question that followed Jesus astounding truth.
For in Verse 3:4, Nicodemus saith unto 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?
This question verifies that this ruler of the Jews was blind to spiritual discernment and therefore unable to know the things of God.
Again we see a ruler of the Jews thinking in physical terms which is the way of life for the natural man.
Perhaps Nicodemus was stating how impossible it is for an old man to change his ways.
When he is old he is set in his ways, ways of sin and neglect of God.
It is as hard for a man to change his ways as it would be to enter his mother's womb and be born again.
How is it possible for a man whose whole nature at any moment is the sum of all the past, to start fresh?
How can he undo, or do away with, the results which years have brought and which go to form himself?
How can a man's "self" survive a new birth?
Nicodemus' reasonings are but the reasonings that depend upon the flesh.
But God says: God is Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.
The things of God are indeed spiritually discerned.
The new birth makes alive your spirit.
You can now worship, since God is Spirit and can only be worshipped in spirit.
A man is blind to God’s realm until he is born again where he is given eyes to see the kingdom of God!
Verse 3:5,6,7, 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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I say unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Jesus uses figurative language here.
In other passages of John's gospel he explains what water is in a spiritual sense.
In John 4:14, to the woman at the well, Christ said, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
We know that the water Christ talked about on this occasion was not literal water.
Again in John 7:37, John tells us, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
These passages lead us to believe that the use of the word water in John 3:5 is figurative and not literal.
I believe that Jesus, in this passage is using the word water as a figure of speech for the Word of God.
God uses his Word as his instrument in the act of regeneration.
Other passages where the new birth is mentioned are always accompanied by the inclusion of the Word of God.
Psalm 119:50, For thy word hath quickened me.
Again in I Cor. 4:15, Paul says, I have begotten you through the gospel.
James 1:18, Of his own will began us he with the word of truth.
Peter declares in I Peter 1:23, Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
The new birth comes by the Word of God.
God describes it as seed because it produces after its own kind.
God describes it as water because of its cleansing power.
He calls his word as a lamp because it illuminates.
He calls it a hammer because it breaks up the hard heart.
So born of water means born of the cleansing and purifying Word of God.
If the water of the word is the instrument that God uses to quicken or make alive the sinner then the Holy Spirit is the one to produce the new birth.
He is the one to use the water of the word to impart a new nature to one who before was dead in trespasses and sins.
Therefore Jesus says, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
This is not a decree of God that can be negotiated.
It is a principle more sure than gravity, surer than the position of the stars in heaven.
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people and God sees to it that He is the preparer; He is the one who fits the person for his new dwelling place.
God wants all his sons and daughters to be conformed to Jesus Christ and He uses the new birth to do that for the new birth produces after its own kind.
The natural man is not fit for eternal life with the Father because he is devoid of spiritual life.
Being dead in trespasses and sin he is a spiritual corpse and therefore needs new life.
He is a member of the old creation which has fallen and is under the curse of God.
There is no hope for him in that creation.
Jesus makes it imperative to Nicodemus, a religious man, a preacher, a ruler of the Jews, that what he has, the condition of his heart does not measure up to the standard that God has set.
The new birth is not becoming religious, it is not a change of heart, it is not the removal of anything from the sinner, or the changing of anything within the sinner.
It is not the reformation or the education or the purification of the outward man, but it is the giving to the sinner something that he cannot give himself.
It is the impartation of a new nature, it is the impartation to the sinner of God's nature, the nature of Jesus Christ.
It is a nature that the sinner has absolutely no capability of conjuring up for himself.