Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Dilemma of the "Born Again" Wording

(republished from a prior journal of mine.)

We've all heard it before: Born again; free from sin!

What does this mean, and where is it found in the bible??! The answer: the book of John.

John 3:1-3: Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." HUH? All right, for those who don't have a Greek bible handy... "From above" is actually the Greek adverb 'anothen'. This words means both 'from above' and 'again'.

Nicodemus took the later as translation, which prompted him to say...
(John 3:4) Nicodemus said to him, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?" This misunderstanding of the word 'anothen' serves as a springboard for further instruction from Jesus.

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows were it wills, and you can hear the wound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." The Greek word 'pneuma', as well as the Hebrew word 'ruah' means both 'wind' and 'spirit'.

Now, no where in this entire section does it state that being born again means we are 'free from sinning ever again'. It does state that we are to be reborn spiritually! We cleanse ourselves and allow ourselves to be born of Spirit. We become anew.

Yes, Jesus brings us Salvation... redemption... 'yacha' from sin... and when we ask Christ into our hearts (and allow ourselves to be born from above into a new spiritual birth,) we are to leave our past sins behind us at the cross. Much like the woman who was to be stoned, we are to go and sin no more. We are freed from our past transgressions against God. However, we can still sin. I would think a better catch phrase would be "freed from sin", past tense. You see, sin isn't caused by the devil. We cause ourselves to sin. We sin when we put our wants, needs, desires, or ambitions ahead of God's place in our life. It's an ego thing. Sure, some might say the devil whispers to our ego, and hence is the root cause. Ppl, you have free will. The devil doesn't make you do anything. Satan's role is one of a prosecutor, a disrupter, and a hindrance. He's not all-powerful.

So, yes, through Jesus we can be born from above, anew in spirit. Through Jesus, at that rebirth, our past transgressions against God are cleansed. And, yes, without focusing on Jesus, we tend to allow our egos to rule our attitudes and actions, and thus fall into sin again. Can we keep using Jesus like a towel, to blot away each sin as we commit it? We shouldn't! Instead, we should address each sin, and find was of ceasing each sinful behavior. We should ask God to help us get a grip on that sin, to master our desire to commit the act. Through God, through the Holy Spirit, we can continue to be free from sinful ways... but don't punish yourself for not being perfect 100% of the time. We are, after all, human. God gave us egos. How we use (or abuse) that ego is up to us.