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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Holy Spirit and Us

Don Stewart :: What Does It Mean to Be "Born of the Spirit?"

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What Does It Mean to Be “Born of the Spirit?”

The Holy Spirit and Us – Question 3

The Scriptures speak of the necessity of being “born of the Spirit.” Indeed, Jesus said the following in a private meeting with the religious leader Nicodemus.

The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5 NLT).

According to Jesus, nobody can enter God’s kingdom unless they have been “born of the Spirit.” Thus, it is necessary that we know exactly what that means.

As we look at the Scriptures, we find that there are a number of things that the Bible says about the subject of being “born of the Spirit.” They are as follows.

Being Born of the Spirit Is the New Birth

Being “born of the Spirit” is also referred to as the “new birth.” The new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit, who places the believer in a right relationship with the God of the Bible. It is a work of God, not of humans. John wrote.

Who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13 ESV).

The New Living Translation Says

They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God (John 1:13 NLT)

The new birth is spiritual in nature. It is something which the Spirit of God performs in our heart. In other words, we do not give birth to ourselves.

The New Birth Is Necessary for Salvation

The new birth is necessary because all of us have been separated from God because of our sin. Paul wrote to the Romans.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Each of us has fallen short of the perfect standard which God has set. Therefore, none of us can make it to heaven on our own merit, our own good works.

Furthermore, if a person continues in our sin there is no hope of salvation for them. Paul also said to those at Rome.

For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23 KJV).

Death means separation. We are spiritually separated from God at birth. When a person dies apart from Christ they become eternally separated from Him.

Yet if we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, salvation can be ours. Paul wrote further on this subject to the Romans. He said.

But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23 NRSV).

Salvation is a free gift that God offers to unbelieving humanity.

Faith Must Be Placed in Jesus Christ for the New Birth

The new birth occurs when faith is placed in the Person of Jesus Christ. In speaking of the nation Israel, John emphasized the necessity of receiving Christ for whom He claimed to be.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12 ESV).

We become His children when we trust Him as our Savior.

This regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is necessary for everyone. Indeed, there are no exceptions. Paul wrote to Titus.

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5 NLT).

To be saved, one must put his or her faith in Jesus Christ. This is the only way one can have a relationship with the living God.

The Definition of a Christian

The definition of a Christian is a person in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. The Apostle Paul made this clear when he wrote to the church at Rome.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him (Romans 8:9 ESV)

Here Paul stresses the fact that without the Holy Spirit we do not have Christ. Indeed, the mark of a Christian is the indwelling Spirit of God.

Jude wrote of people who do not have the Spirit. He defined them in this manner.

It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions (Jude 19 NRSV).

Those without the Holy Spirit are non-believers. They are worldly people, lost in sin. They are without hope apart from Christ

The Body of the Christian Becomes the Temple of the Holy Spirit

The body of the Christian is called the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul explained this when he wrote to the Corinthians.

Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself (1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT).

Since the body of each believer is the temple of the Spirit it is the duty of each Christian to keep the temple set apart for service to God. Paul also wrote.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1 NRSV).

Our bodies belong to Him; we are no longer our own.

In sum, there are a number of important things we learn from Scripture about what it means to be “born of the Spirit.”

Summary – Question 3
What Does It Mean to Be “Born of the Spirit?”

The Bible says that it is necessary for human beings to be “born of the Spirit” if they want to know the true God and eventually get into heaven. This is not something optional. Rather it is absolutely necessary.

We learn several things about “being born of the Spirit” from Scripture.

First, each of us needs a spiritual rebirth before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus called it being “born again.” As we have each been born physically we also need to be born spiritually.

The reason we need this spiritual rebirth is because none of us can get to heaven based upon our good deeds. Indeed, our sin has separated us from the God of the Bible. Thus, no matter how good we may be, we will never be “good enough.”

The new birth consists in believing in Jesus Christ as Savior. Faith must be placed in Him and Him alone. When we do this we become “born again.” At the time of the new birth the Holy Spirit comes to dwell with us. He not only showed us of our need for Christ He also indwells us when we trust Jesus as our Savior. The Spirit of God remains with us during our entire life.

Consequently, there are two types of people in this world. On the one hand there are those who know Christ and on the other hand there are those who do not. Christians have the Spirit of God dwelling in them while unbelievers do not.

Finally, the Holy Spirit works in the life of the “born again” Christian to make them more “Christlike.” We now belong to Him and the Spirit of God helps us act like Him. This is a process which continues as long as we are alive.

What Are the Various Ways in Which the Holy Spirit Works in the Life of the Believer? ← Prior Section
In What Ways Does the Holy Spirit Give Life? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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