Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?…
I. ITS NATURE.
1. What it is not.
(1) Not the outward administration of baptism. Some we see piously disposed from their earliest years who might have had a holy bias imparted, but the great generality are void of gracious dispositions, and cannot have been born again.
(2) Not reformation of life. Amendment is the effect, not the precedent of regeneration. The nature of the corrupt tree must be changed ere it can produce good fruits.
(3) Not a profession of religion. This may exist when there is no participation in the spirit. Nicodemus was a professor and a distinguished teacher.
2. What it is.
(1) A supernatural change above the power of nature. As man cannot create, he cannot recreate himself, cannot quicken himself any more than the buried dead.
(2) An internal change. The doctrine of Ezekiel 36:26, 27 Christ perpetuates. As the heart is deceitful above all things so it must be changed ere the love of God reigns in it.
(3) An universal change, co-extensive with our corruption, affecting all our powers, enlightening the understanding, subduing the will, biassing the disposition, purifying the heart, reforming the life.
(4) A sensible change. Sometimes the change is unconscious, but generally sinners are aroused from their slumbers more or less violently (Acts 2:37). In either case it is in its progress and effects always sensible.
(5) A visible change. We see the effects of the wind, although not its origin and operation.So a man's new birth is evident —
(1) To himself. He loves and seeks spiritual things, whereas formerly he disliked and avoided them.
(2) To others.
(a) To the regenerate who find a congeniality of taste and feeling with them.
(b) To the unregenerate, who marvel at the change.
II. ITS NECESSITY.
1. From the character of Him who declares it: Christ —
(1) The Divine Saviour.
(2) The Divine Teacher.
2. From its indispensableness to happiness.
(1) Present. The world in itself is an unsatisfying, empty portion. The soul craves a higher joy than it can give. The new birth brings joy unspeakable and full of glory.
(2) Eternal. Heaven would not be heaven to the unconverted. Its employments, etc., would be offensive. His nature and taste savour not of spiritual things.
III. ITS SIGNS. He that is born of God —
1. Overcometh the world.
2. Doth not commit sin.
3. Brings forth the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, etc.Application. If the new birth be —
1. A supernatural change, do not fancy you can renew yourself, but cry, "Create in me a clean heart," etc.
2. An internal change; do not think that the amendment will suffice, but pray that the axe may be laid at the root of the corrupt tree.
3. An universal change; no idol must be retained.
4. A sensible change; see that your acquaintance with truth is experimental, not theoretical.
5. A visible change; let your light shine.
(W. Mudge, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?