I’m a good person. I try to do right by others. Being kind and living a moral life is enough to please God. Right?
The Bible gives the account of a good, upright man and respected leader of his community named Nicodemus. We all would admire such a person. Yet this good man came to Jesus one night and said, “We know that you have come from God as a teacher.” He probably thought Jesus had a new teaching that would help him be an even better person. But instead of teaching Nicodemus how to be perfect, Jesus said something shocking to this moral man: “You must be born anew.”
Nicodemus was perplexed. What did Jesus mean—somehow return to his mother’s womb and be born a second time? Jesus explained, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
To be born anew isn’t to be born again in our physical body, our flesh; nor is it to convert to a religion, turn over a new leaf, or improve ourselves. In fact, in God’s eyes, the most moral person and the most immoral person have the same need: the life of God. To have the life of God, we must be born anew.
To be born anew is to be born of the Spirit of God in our spirit, the deepest part of our being. When God’s Spirit comes into us, we receive the life of God and we’re born of God. We become sons of God. Then, in addition to our human life, we have the highest, most wonderful life in the universe: the divine, eternal life of God.
Our behavior isn’t what’s important to God; it’s whether or not we have His life. Actually, our good behavior—however commendable—can never compensate for the fact that we’re sinful. The Bible tells us, “All have sinned.” So like Nicodemus, we may outwardly live an ethical life, but our inward nature is still sinful. God wants us to have His life, but He’s righteous and must judge sinners. So how can judged sinners receive the life of God?
The Bible tells us good news: God loves us and gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross as our Substitute. There, Jesus bore the sins of the whole world and was judged in our place. Because He died for us, we can be forgiven of our sins. But that’s not all. He resurrected from the dead and became the life-giving Spirit. Now, whoever believes in Him receives the eternal life of God.
God is calling you to be born anew. For this, you must repent—that is, turn from everything else to God—and confess you’re a sinner. You must believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as your Savior. You can be born anew right now by opening your heart and praying:
“Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I repent of living my life without You, and I turn to You. I believe in You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins and resurrecting from the dead. Lord, I open my spirit to receive You right now. Come into me so I can be born anew with Your life. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.”