You Must be Born of the Spirit
Text: John 3:6-8 3/8/09 a.m.
Thesis: That we need the new birth is obvious; the achievement of the new birth is mysterious.
Intro: Who do you know that has been born of the Spirit and is currently living in such a way that you know they are led by the Spirit? Who, for the cause of joy, is living passionately for the good of others?
I want to know and work alongside these mature Christians. I want us all to grow into maturity. I want you to be grounded and filled with joy because of the Spirit within you.
The good news this morning is that the powerful unstoppable Spirit gives us life. There is lasting joy for us.
Right here, right now, there is strength for you to be the man or woman, young man or young woman, God wants you to be.
No one is too far gone. No one is a hopeless case. But let me be clear, you must be born of the Spirit.
Read John 3:1-8
I) The flesh is deficient
a) In simple terms, you are deficient
i) Verse 6, that which is born of the flesh is flesh.
ii) Here Jesus is talking about what humanity is and what humanity is capable of producing.
iii) Flesh has the power to only produce flesh.
iv) On principle what is human produces what is human. The flesh cannot and will not evolve into the spirit.
v) So when you see the word “flesh” here in verse 6 don’t rush immediately to the idea of sinful.
vi) Though the idea that flesh is sinful is right and proclaimed clearly elsewhere in Scripture that is not the focus here (Ps 51:5; Rom 5:12; Eph 2:3).
vii) The emphasis here is on the distinction between what the flesh is capable of and what the Spirit is capable of.
viii) When a husband and wife come together they do not beget or give life to a goat, a hammer, a race car, or a tree.
ix) When flesh comes together it produces flesh.
x) The very best a man can do is produce more men.
xi) Jesus is drawing our attention to the inability of the flesh because being born again is in a completely different category than physical birth.
xii) If we were physically born again it wouldn’t do us any good. Entering our mother’s womb for the second time and being born again would do nothing for us.
xiii) I look at Angela holding my daughters and I tell her, “you did good.” And she did. We did the best the flesh can do but the flesh is unavoidably deficient.
xiv) The flesh must be born again, born from above, born of water, and born of Spirit.
xv) You can’t do this for yourself. I can’t do this for you. You are not smart enough to enter the kingdom of God.
xvi) You are not good enough to enter the kingdom of God. You do not deserve to enter the kingdom of God.
xvii) You must be born of the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. The flesh is deficient but
II) The Spirit is sufficient
a) In simple terms, the Spirit does what we can’t do.
i) Verse 6, “and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
ii) The Spirit does not produce what is spiritual. This is a noun not an adjective.
iii) The spirit, that principle of life within each person is dead. We cannot respond to God. We cannot live to God. We cannot please God.
iv) The spirit died within man when Adam and Eve decided they were smart enough to do it on their own.
v) From spiritually dead Adam and Eve came the spiritually dead you and me. Like produces like.
vi) But God is gracious and powerful. Where we are incapable. He is more than capable.
vii) He produces in us what we cannot produce in ourselves.
viii) Christianity is not adding another dimension or hobby. Christianity is not trying out the spiritual.
ix) True Christianity is the infusion of new life, spirit-filled life, which results in a complete change of person.
x) The Holy Spirit brings your spirit to life. Because the Holy Spirit produces new life within, you are alive.
xi) You can respond to God. You can live to God. You can please God.
xii) This new life isn’t because of your momma, your daddy, your intelligence, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man.
xiii) This new life in the Spirit is possible because this is what the Spirit does. The Spirit produces spirit.
xiv) Aren’t you glad God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves?
xv) This is amazing grace. God tells us to do it. We don’t want to do it and we are not capable of doing it.
xvi) Then God comes and does it for us.
xvii) The flesh produces more of the same but the Spirit produces what is different.
III) What Jesus says is shocking but it shouldn’t be
a) Jesus told Nicodemus in verse 7, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
i) Nicodemus is surprised by all of this but he shouldn’t be. If we read the bible and take honest stock of ourselves it should be no surprise that Jesus tells us that we must be born again.
ii) And Jesus is talking to us. ‘You’ in verse 7 is plural.
iii) Not just you, Nicodemus, but you, everyone born of the flesh. Jesus is talking to Paul Duncan here. Jesus is talking to you.
iv) You must be born again. This is a necessity.
v) Does your heart pound when you hear this command?
vi) We know that Jesus must be crucified (Jn 3:14; 12:34).
vii) We know that Jesus must rise from the dead (Jn 20:9).
viii) So we are rightly tenacious about the fact that in order for anyone to be saved Jesus must be crucified because of sins and Jesus must rise from the dead securing new life and victory over sin and death.
ix) But are we equally as tenacious about the necessity of being born again?
x) Do we look at ourselves in light of this fact? Do we look at our children, our spouses, our grandparents, our friends, and our neighbors in light of this fact?
xi) I dare say that we are comfortable with the flesh. We have convinced ourselves that we are all okay when we are not.
b) So let’s ask this question, Why would it surprise Nicodemus to find out that he must be born again? Why would Nicodemus marvel?
i) I believe Nicodemus was surprised because Nicodemus was convinced he was fine as is.
ii) He had the best the flesh had to offer. He was a child of Abraham. He was a Jew. He was a religious man and others recognized and applauded him for it.
iii) Nicodemus had convinced himself that he was okay.
iv) Other people would be quick to tell Nicodemus that he was okay; he didn’t need to be “born again.”
v) This is precisely why we must constantly preach that everyone must be born again or you will not be saved.
vi) But we live in a culture convinced that we are okay.
vii) It’s the gospel of self-esteem. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and dog-gone-it people like me.
viii) There is nothing wrong with me except possibly for the fact that I don’t believe in myself.
ix) But that’s not my problem that’s the fault of my parents, my teachers, and my friends.
x) I’m good enough they just have made me think I’m not good enough.
xi) Nicodemus could not believe someone would have the audacity to say to him that he is not good enough to meet the standard.
xii) Nicodemus is shocked that someone would say to him that in and of himself he is not capable of being good enough.
xiii) But is it not the most simple of facts, that what is of the flesh cannot inherit what is of the Spirit?
xiv) Now let me be clear that you are just like me. You are not good enough and you can never be good enough to meet God’s standards.
xv) In and of yourself you are not capable of being good enough. You do not have what it takes. It may shock you but it is true.
xvi) Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your heart. If the Spirit has begun to humble you do not kick against this painful work. It is for your good. The Spirit will bring you life.
IV) Think about the wind and rely on the Spirit
a) Do you see that Jesus is wise enough and gracious enough to bring it down to our level?
i) Take the wind for example. Verse 8, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”
ii) Jesus wants us to think about the parallels between the wind and the Holy Spirit.
iii) The parallels are so close that in the original ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ are actually the same words.
iv) There are several lessons for us to learn here
b) First, the wind and the Spirit are sovereign
i) Verse 8, the wind blows where it wishes
ii) It has always been the case that the wind blows where ever it wants to blow.
iii) You may want the wind to be still so that you can burn your burn pile but the wind blows hard.
iv) You may want the wind to be strong so you can fly a kite but the wind dies down.
v) Our wants and desires do not effect and cannot effect the power or direction of the wind.
vi) So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
vii) We do not control when the Spirit regenerates us. The Spirit is free to do as He wishes with whomever He wishes whenever He wishes.
viii) The flesh is dependant on the Spirit. The Spirit is not dependant on the flesh.
c) Second, the effects of the wind and the Spirit are discernable.
i) Verse 8 again, the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound. There are tell-tale signs of the wind.
ii) In Acts 2 the disciples are waiting in Jerusalem.
iii) They are waiting because they couldn’t control the Spirit. When the Spirit decides to act then and only then does the Spirit act.
iv) Acts 2:2, “suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
v) There was an obvious accompanying sound with the coming of the Spirit just as there is an obvious accompanying sound when the wind blows.
vi) You know something is happening spiritually because you recognize the effects. We’ll look at those effects in a moment.
vii) What we must see is that it is not wrong to look for the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
viii) Everyone born of the Spirit bears the marks of being born of the Spirit.
d) Third, the wind and the Spirit are mysterious
i) Verse 8, “but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”
ii) The origin and the destination of that gust of wind is a mystery. Even in our day of knowing about the jet streams, El Nino, and the warming patterns of the oceans we cannot pinpoint the exact origin of a gust of wind.
iii) We build windmills from Abilene up through the panhandle but when you drive by why is one turning and the next is still?
iv) You say, “well the wind isn’t blowing.” And you’re right but why is the wind blowing this windmill and not that windmill?
v) It is a mystery. In a way Jesus is turning Nicodemus’ words back on him.
vi) In verse 2 Nicodemus told Jesus, “we know that you are a teacher come from God.”
vii) In verse 8 Jesus told Nicodemus, “the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”
viii) Jesus uses the same words as Nicodemus.
ix) Nicodemus has heard the wind blow, he knows that Jesus is a teacher come from God, but Nicodemus does not understand the meaning of it all.
x) For Nicodemus to understand the meaning of it all he must be born of the Spirit.
xi) If we are going to grasp the fullness of “for God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life” we must be given new life from above.
xii) And just because something is a mystery doesn’t mean it’s not true. Just because we can’t explain how something happened doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
xiii) The power of the Holy Spirit is undeniable and mysterious.
e) Finally, we must rediscover the discernable and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit in salvation and in all of life.
i) Jesus says that this mysterious and undeniable power of the Spirit is true for everyone who is born of the Spirit.
ii) When a person is born again the effects are obvious: you repent of your sins and place your faith in Christ.
iii) No repentance and no faith then no new birth.
iv) If the wind isn’t blowing, the flags on the poles don’t move. When the wind blows the flags move.
v) When the Spirit moves people repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ.
vi) But we’ve made salvation a matter of simply wanting Jesus to make things better and wanting Jesus to keep us out of hell.
vii) We’ve made salvation a matter of affirming some facts and repeating a magic incantation.
viii) But if a person does not love the good news of the gospel such that he repents to God and places his faith in Jesus Christ then he has NOT been born again.
ix) As we will see in the weeks ahead, what we have come to understand as asking Jesus into your heart is NOT the same as being born again.
x) Jesus doesn’t tell Nicodemus, “bow your head and repeat after me. Jesus tells him he doesn’t believe. Jesus tells him he is dead. Jesus tells him he must be born again.
xi) And this work of the Spirit is not just for the moment you first believe. The work of the Spirit continues to be evident after you believe.
xii) You see his effects when you come near to the end of your prayer time and he urges you to continue on. He helps you pray (Roman 8:26).
xiii) You see the Spirit’s effects when you are tempted to sin and a powerful Scripture comes to mind (Romans 8:13).
xiv) The Spirit helps us understand the truth (Jn 14:16).
xv) The Spirit convicts us of sin (Jn 16:8), the Spirit points us to Christ (Jn 15:26), the Spirit helps us as we study Scripture (Jn 14:26), and the Spirit guides us to share the Gospel with people (Acts 8:29).
xvi) By the Spirit’s power we become God’s children and by the Spirit we continually rest in and look to our Father (Rom 8:15)
xvii) The Spirit leads us to obey God’s will and become more like Christ (Rom 8:14; Gal 5:22-24).
xviii) And the Spirit testifies to us that we are children of God (Rom 8:16). There is an inner conviction that we have been born of the Spirit.
xix) There is an undeniable drawing to Christ. He is my hope. He is my life. He is my salvation.
a) In all of this I hope you understand and truly feel that you are powerless when it comes to securing heaven for yourself.
b) And in all of this I hope you understand and truly feel that God is powerful and unstoppable when it comes to securing heaven for you.
c) Look away from your self and your sins. Look away from your guilt, and your inability.
d) Look to God for your salvation.
e) The Spirit is not stopped by your past. The Spirit is not stopped by your present.
f) If God is calling you today to repent of your sins, place your faith in Christ, and find new life do not worry about who you are. Do not worry about what people will think.
g) The Spirit doesn’t care about who you are and the Spirit certainly doesn’t care about what people will think.
h) If the Spirit is blowing across you today and you feel the effects of conviction of sin, or your need for Christ, do not delay.
i) Follow the Spirit as he leads you to tell God you’re sorry and trust in Christ for your forgiveness.
j) The Spirit can be trusted. He will lead you to Jesus.
k) And I want you to join me in praying that we will be a Spirit-led church.
l) There are so many needs in our immediate area. From the need to proclaim the gospel to our neighbors to ingrained generational poverty.
m) From deteriorating church buildings to the need for safe housing in our community.
n) There is so much we can do. Pray for me and pray for us. Pray that the Spirit will lead this church to do what is impossible with man but possible with God.
o) Pray that we will be excited about and faithful with everything God brings our way.
p) Pray that we will not trust ourselves but rely on the Spirit’s power.