Now let’s spend a little time talking about WHY there is a problem with just being born once. Why do we need a second birth?
For starters lets press into the difference between flesh and spirit a bit. For this we will turn to the chapter that is at the very top of my “most important chapters in the Bible” list, Romans 8.
Let’s jump in right at the top.
If you will allow it, I would like to step right through the first 9 verses a verse at a time.
Hope you have your swimmies on, because the water is about to get deep.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - Romans 8:1
Ok – we love to hear this, don’t we? No Condemnation! No Condemnation! You bet – I sure love this too, but I can’t take it as a stand-alone verse. We must look at the context to understand how Paul can possibly say there is no condemnation, when Jesus himself says that anyone who does not believe in Him is condemned already. (see John 3:18)
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. - Romans 8:2
Paul is getting ready to contrast two laws: The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus and the law of sin and death.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, - Romans 8:3a
In verse 3 Paul basically tells us that the Law, that greatest of gifts that God ever gave the Jews (until Jesus), that verbal depiction of His nature and Character, the very thing all Jewish culture revolved around, was flawed. The Law was incapable of solving man’s one great problem.
The Law could not restore man’s relationship with God.
But the Law’s weakness was not inherent in the Law, but its problem was that it was dependant on man’s flesh, man’s basic nature, in order to allow relationship with God.
The Law could form a path to God, but the flesh could not stay on it. [Tweet this]
...God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, - Romans 8:3b
I love that – what the law could not do – God did! Hallelujah!!
And how? He sent Jesus. Jesus first took on flesh – lived a sinless life, though tempted in the same way every man is tempted, then on the cross, he became sin, and God condemned Him. He, Jesus, drank the cup of God’s wrath described in Jeremiah 25:15-29.
He solved our ‘flesh’ problem on the cross.
so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:4
Here we see that the only way to solve our flesh problem is to walk (aka live) according to the Spirit.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. - Romans 8:5
Next Paul makes it perfectly clear. What does it look like to live in the flesh? It means to live with your mind consumed by the things of the flesh.
What is a mind consumed by the flesh? Well, perhaps you are thinking of some sex crazed person who is always pursuing hedonistic pleasures. But that is not what it means to have a mind constantly on the flesh. The mind on the flesh, is the mind on the natural.
Jesus said it like this –
"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' - Matthew 6:31
The one who has his mind consumed by the natural world, in effect constantly consumed with themselves, is the person Paul is addressing here.
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, - Romans 8:6
This flesh or self filled mind, this worrying mind, this self-absorbed mind, is death.
The mind set on the Spirit, the mind pursuing God, the mind that is actively pressing in to hear the voice of the lord, and know the mind of the Spirit, this is leads to a life marked by peace.
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, - Romans 8:7
Paul gets serious here. This word hostile is really aggressive. It might be better to say ‘actively hostile.’ The carnal or fleshly mind – the natural mind – is in open hostility toward God. It is at war with God.
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. - Romans 8:8
And so it follows – if you are at war with God, and His good purposes toward you, you can not please God. It is impossible to please God when you are actively undermining all that He is trying to do in your life.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. - Romans 8:9
Ah – finally some good news! You are not in the flesh if the Spirit of God dwells in you! So how can we get the Spirit of God on the inside?
That brings us back to the Second birth.
Remember we said yesterday, that we must be born of God, in the same way the Holy Spirit was in Christ from conception, so you must become a dwelling place for the Spirit of God. As we saw yesterday:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. - John 1:12-13
I believe tomorrow we will finish up on the question “Why do we need to be born again?” Don’t miss it.
Walk in the Spirit!