“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
NICODEMUS DID NOT HAVE THE BORN-AGAIN SPIRIT TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH
The tragedy in the life of Nicodemus the Pharisee was that night when he approached Jesus.
Nicodemus apparently a learned Jew, an authority on the scriptures, a religious and well-respected man in the community could not comprehend the simple meaning, the requirement of a spiritual birth in order to enter the kingdom of God. Religion will keep you from knowing the truth and cripple you from entering the kingdom of God.
When Jesus told him, “Nicodemus! Unless you are born again you cannot be part in the kingdom of God”, Nicodemus was confused. He asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born? How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said unto him, “Art thou a master of Israel and knowest not these things? That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.”
HE DID NOT UNDERSTAND GOD’S WAY OF SALVATION
I believe with all my heart, the greatest moment in the life of Nicodemus was that night when he discovered God’s way of salvation. That night when he stood helpless before Jesus despite his religiosity! Despite his head knowledge! Despite his background! Despite his good works and authority!
I guess he must have thought Jesus would applaud him for his secular achievements. Little did he realize and discovered that all these things were considered filthy rags before God. Jesus said, “Nicodemus unless you are born from above there is no hope for you! Your religion will not take you to heaven! Your academic achievements will not find you in heaven”. What Jesus was trying to tell Nicodemus was that there need to be a inner change of heart which can only come about through a born-again spirit.
NICODEMUS DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE GRACE OF GOD
Apparently, Nicodemus did not find his identity in the grace of God. Maybe for him who was so academically-minded grace was too good to be true: grace of God that called men and declared him righteous without their works (Rom.4:5). You did not earn your right standing with God because of your good works. That is self-righteousness! Self-glory!
Jesus said, “You can be so religious, you can be so morally upright with good living behind you that is merely educating the flesh and when you have done all that at the end of it all, it is still just flesh! The natural man cannot comprehend the things of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 : But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
A RELIGIOUS SPIRIT WILL LIMIT YOUR UNDERSTANDING
A lot of us have been socketed in a religious mindset for too long. Every religion teaches you what you sow is what you reap. Every religion is based on a performance identity to earn your right standing with God. That’s the reason why the grace of God is too good to be true!
People go by what they see from the outside, the world is looking for cosmetic appearance. But God is looking for an inward change in us. An inward transformation! An inward regeneration! Which can only come by a spiritual birth – being born from above. The fruit of the spirit can only be produced through a spiritual birth!
You know what? You may have gained a Doctorate of Divinity from a renowned university, you may have intellectualized ability to interpret and analyze the scriptures yet never understood what is the real and simple meaning of salvation in God’s terms and that can be the greatest tragedy of our lives.
GRACE IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
We have become so infected by religion that we think God’s unmerited favour is too good to be true. Because of ignorance to grasp this truth, a lot of us come under bondage and we are crippled from moving forward into God’s blessings because we are geared back into the performance mood begging God for blessings He has already done for you. God is saying, “It’s “a done deal”. Why are you begging me to do for you what I have already accomplished and done for you?” God loves to be trusted and dependent upon to bless you with His unmerited favour. Can anybody ever understand this?
SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION WAS MISSING IN NICODEMUS
Nicodemus was academically rich but spiritually bankrupt when he stood before Jesus. It’s undeniable that Nicodemus knew the scriptures in perfection in his head knowledge. You know what? Unfortunately, he did not understand the SPIRIT behind the scriptures that was the saddest and greatest tragedy of his life. When we are not born again from above it’s like, you are sailing your ship without radar on the open sea.
Here is what we need to understand, righteousness is not revealed from law to law! Notice that righteousness is not revealed from good deed to good deed! How is it revealed? From faith to faith. You are not righteous from good deed to good deed. Your good deeds did not make you righteous.
Please understand: Jesus made you righteous! When you received Jesus into your life you are made righteous! You are righteous because God said you are! You are righteous because of what Jesus accomplished on behalf of you. You are not righteous because of your good works or good deeds or whatever you have achieved on your own.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Note: Rev Dr Jai Kumar is an ordained & licensed minister of Covenant Ministries International N.J. USA. He is a mission minded pastor who carries an apostolic anointing who preaches and teaches an uncompromising gospel with boldness. A member of ECCM (Malaysia) Spiritual Adviser & overseer to various ministries and churches. An itinerant speaker. He is also the author of a book entitled, ‘God’s Time Clock.’ Currently he worships at C3 Subang.
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– Rev Dr Jai Kumar