Have You Been Born Again?
A Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus once visited Jesus. Like many people, Nicodemus expected that his good life would earn him a home in Heaven when he died. Imagine how he felt when Jesus said to him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Jesus explained to Nicodemus that the new birth is a spiritual change that can only be brought about by God. The moment a lost sinner repents of his sins and trusts Jesus as the only one who can save him from the eternal judgment of his sins, he is born again. God gives him a spiritual nature through which he can understand and enjoy the things of God: that person is spiritually born into God’s family!
What Jesus told Nicodemus 2,000 years ago is just as true today. We may try to live a good life, go to church or engage in other commendable activities, but we still must be “born again” in order to be a member of God’s family.
Have you been born again? This is life’s most important question, because your answer will affect all of your eternity.
How Can You Know?
How can you know that you have been born again? The Bible lists six characteristics in the book of 1 John. These are not requirements in order to be born again, but life changes that show God is at work in your life. They are the evidence that you have truly been born spiritually into a new, life-changing relationship with God!
Believing in Christ
First: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1).
Someone who is born again believes that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. That He is the One sent by God the Father to pay the penalty for man’s sin by His death on the Cross. His resurrection from the dead on the third day is proof that He is able to forgive us and bring us into fellowship with the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).
A born-again Christian does not merely know the facts about Jesus Christ, but he has entrusted his life to Him as Savior. The child of God does not depend on his church, his good deeds or his pastor to bring him eternal life. The Bible says, “For as many as received Him [Jesus Christ], to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).
Second: “Everyone that doeth righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29).
Christ is the Christian's example as well as his Savior. Jesus told His disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” and “you are My friends, if you do whatever I command you” (John 14:15, 15:14). The true Christian lives to please his heavenly Father and tries to avoid those things God hates.
Loving Other Christians
Third: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14).
Like Jesus, the child of God loves even his enemies; but he has a special love for those who are fellow believers. They may be different from him in race, personality, and culture, but they are all members of the same family. “This is the message that ye have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11).
Overcoming the World
Fourth, “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4).
Someone who is born again does not follow the world’s ever-changing standard of right and wrong. He does not mind opposing the world's ways, because he seeks God’s praise more than man’s and fears offending God more than offending man.
Not Habitual Sinning
Fifth: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning” (1 John 3:9).
The true Christian does not habitually sin, because he wants to please God. Although he is far from perfect, he knows that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). If he does sin, he can confess it directly to God and “the Lord is faithful and just to forgive” (1 John 1:9).
Keeping Oneself Pure
Sixth, “He that is begotten of God keepeth himself” (1 John 5:18).
A person who is born again tries not only to avoid sin, but also to avoid anything that may lead to it. He is like a soldier in enemy territory continually on guard. He knows he can’t keep temptation from coming, but by knowing God’s Word and through prayer he can resist it.
These are the six essential marks of a born-again Christian. Each of these traits may not be equally obvious in your life. But if you are born again, God is developing these traits in you. Are you born again?
If you have never been born again or you are not sure, you can be sure right now. Pray right now, asking God to forgive your sins, and believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Jesus said, “He that...believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life” (John 5:24). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
–J. C. Ryle