Born of the Spirit

 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh [the physical is merely physical], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be surprised that I have told you, ‘You must be born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].’  The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:4-8

Jesus emphasized that this spiritual cleansing is wholly a work of God, and not the result of human effort. Just as only human nature can beget human nature, so also only the Holy Spirit can effect spiritual transformation. The term flesh (sarx) here refers merely to human nature. Even if a physical rebirth were possible, it would produce only flesh. Thus, only the Spirit can produce the spiritual birth required for entrance into God’s kingdom. Regeneration is entirely His work, unaided by any human effort. – John MacArthur

It is a great change made in the heart of a sinner, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It means that something is done in us, and for us, which we cannot do for ourselves. Something is wrong, whereby such a life begins as shall last for ever. We cannot otherwise expect any benefit by Christ; it is necessary to our happiness here and hereafter. What Christ speak, Nicodemus misunderstood, as if there had been no other way of regenerating and new-moulding an immortal soul, than by new-framing the body. But he acknowledged his ignorance, which shows a desire to be better informed. It is then further explained by the Lord Jesus. He shows the Author of this blessed change. It is not wrought by any wisdom or power of our own, but by the power of the blessed Spirit. We are shapen in iniquity, which makes it necessary that our nature be changed. We are not to marvel at this; for, when we consider the holiness of God, the depravity of our nature, and the happiness set before us, we shall not think it strange that so much stress is laid upon this. The regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is compared to water. It is also probable that Christ had reference to the ordinance of baptism. Not that all those, and those only, that are baptized, are saved; but without that new birth which is wrought by the Spirit, and signified by baptism, none shall be subjects of the kingdom of heaven. The same word signifies both the wind and the Spirit. The wind bloweth where it listeth for us; God directs it. The Spirit sends his influences where, and when, on whom, and in what measure and degree, he pleases. Though the causes are hidden, the effects are plain, when the soul is brought to mourn for sin, and to breathe after Christ. Christ’s stating of the doctrine and the necessity of regeneration, it should seem, made it not clearer to Nicodemus. Thus the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to the natural man. – Matthew Henry

born-of-the-spirit

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Conversion

 

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