9th May 2014

The Spirit Gives Spiritual Life 

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
John 3:6 (NIV UK)

One of the greatest of miracles is our conversion. How did we change from who we used to be into God’s “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17)? The answer is through the Holy Spirit: it is the Spirit who gives birth to new life within us. 

In John 3 Jesus is talking to a man called Nicodemus. Nicodemus had been brought up to believe that eternal life-change was achievable through orderly self-discipline and adherence to sensible regulations. Some Christians think similarly today: that we change through the determined application of mental disciplines and of life-changing habits. If we practice such things, surely that will change us deep inside? 

What Jesus had to say to Nicodemus was quite different. If we want to change completely, we have to be “born again” – not physically, but spiritually. It’s not by dint of our own efforts in pursuing acts of righteousness – that’s like the flesh giving birth to flesh: spiritual goals are not obtained by physical means nor can we address spiritual problems by applying physical solutions. It is the Spirit that gives spiritual life. If we wish to be born again spiritually, it is possible only through the Spirit. 

How does this transformational work of the Spirit begin in us? The Bible explains that the starting point is acceptance of Jesus Christ. We are saved and we change, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus has done and still does for us: “…if the Spirit of God finds a home within you…if Christ does live within you his presence means that your sinful nature is dead, but your spirit becomes alive because of the righteousness he brings with him” (Romans 8:9-10, JB Phillips). 

In other words, Christians are spiritually alive because the Spirit dwells in us. If we are not Christians, then, although the Spirit is present everywhere, his life-changing work does not occur in us. John, who recorded the Nicodemus story, later reassured believers that when they accept Christ, God dwells in them: “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God” (1 John 4:15 NIV UK). 

The miracle of our conversion happens only through the transforming in-dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who gives birth to our new life in Christ. 

Great eternal Father, thank you for the Holy Spirit, who changes us, and through whom Jesus lives in us.  In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson


ancientbibleAbout the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.  You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

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