We’re at that time of year when everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Many of us resolve to make ourselves better. We try to justify ourselves before God and others with our resolutions to be better, do better, be more, do more, but often our attempts result in disappointment. We’re well-intending but we don’t realize that we, by ourselves, can’t be better or do better: we must be born again!
This reminds me of a story in John chapter 3 where Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and member of the Sanhedrin, an expert at trying to justify himself before God with works of the Law comes to Jesus in the dark. He’s afraid, and yet he wants to see the Kingdom of God. He says, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
In this passage, Jesus says, In order to enter the kingdom of God one must be born of water AND the Spirit.
There is the “me” born of water—“the me that I create” with my judgments, through my knowledge of good and evil … the law. But the me that I create is disobedience, darkness, and death. It is emptiness and lies … the Old Adam. I think this is what John refers to as flesh.
But . . . good news! There is the “me” born of the Spirit—“the me that God (I AM) creates” with His judgment. His judgment is Jesus Christ and Him crucified … Grace. It is mercy, light, and life, substance, truth … the New Adam. I think this is what John would call the man of the Spirit.
You are both flesh and spirit.
That means the “me” that you create is worse than you think… AND far better than you ever imagined. But nothing in-between.
One “me” has already lost everything, and one “me” has already won everything. But there is no “me” that needs improving, and there is no “me” at risk of failing. There is no “me” to worry about. “For what’s born of flesh is flesh, and what’s born of Spirit is Spirit.”
Flesh doesn’t turn to Spirit, and Spirit doesn’t turn to flesh. However, just like light shines in the darkness, Spirit is revealed in the midst of flesh, and the Man of Spirit is begotten within the man of flesh. (There is a purpose in both.) Indeed, the flesh is like the space or the womb in which the Spirit is revealed.
Flesh is displaced by Spirit, but flesh can’t create spirit.
Death is displaced by life, but death can’t create life.
Disobedience is displaced by Mercy, darkness by Light, lies by Truth, fear by Faith, and the old man by the New Man.
In the process of my being born of both water and Spirit the shape of my emptiness becomes the shape of His Fullness. A new me, no longer composed of faithlessness and fear but composed of faith, hope, and love—the life of God. Jesus came to deliver us from our old, dead selves, and clothe us with Himself.
Clothed in Christ, may you rest in His deliverance in 2018!
This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It’s a compilation of excerpts from the sermon “Worse Than You Think and Far Better Than You Ever Imagined” and a few devotional thoughts from Kimberly. To read, listen to or watch the entire sermon click here:“Worse Than You Think and Far Better Than You Ever Imagined”