How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. . . . Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit’” (John 3:4–5). When someone dies to every self-righteous impulse, to their religion and their virtues and everything they’ve been leaning on apart from Jesus Christ, then they may be born of the Spirit and receive into themselves a life that was never there before. This new life manifests itself in conscious repentance and unconscious holiness.

“To all who did receive him . . . he gave the right to become children of God” (1:12). Is my knowledge of Jesus based on personal spiritual perception or on what I’ve heard others say? Do I have something in my life that connects me to Jesus Christ as my savior? The bedrock of any spiritual history must be personal knowledge. To be born again means that I see Jesus with my own eyes.

“No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (3:3). The new birth brings with it a new power of vision that enables me to discern God’s rule. Am I discerning it? Or am I merely hunting for miraculous signs of his kingdom? When I am born again, I see that his rule was there all along.

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin” (1 John 3:9). Have I stopped sinning, or am I merely trying to stop sinning? To be born of God means that I have received from him the supernatural power to stop sinning. The Bible never asks, “Should a Christian sin?” It says emphatically that no one born of God will continue to sin. The effect of the new birth in us isn’t simply that we receive the power to stop sinning; it’s that we actually stop sinning. First John 3:9 doesn’t mean that we can’t sin; it means that if we obey the life of God in us, we needn’t sin.

Wisdom from Oswald

The life of Abraham is an illustration of two things: of unreserved surrender to God, and of God’s complete possession of a child of His for His own highest end. Not Knowing Whither, 901 R