What Comes First

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3–6, 8, NIV 1984). 

My Musings – “The Spirit gives birth to spirit.” To have given what He gave and have people reject Him (not become born again), surely must be heart-breaking.  But to be born again and not see the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the redeemed (if that is even possible), must also be disheartening.  While we cannot judge the hearts of these, we can evaluate the fruit.  Jesus said, “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit [give birth to flesh], and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit [give birth to spirit]. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.  Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ [claims to be a Christian] will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father [born of the Spirit] who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:17–21, NIV 1984). 

In other words, although no other words are necessary, if one’s life remains “conformed” to the world, with little or no signs of being “transformed,” perhaps (likely?) there was no genuine born again experience in the first place.

  • Flesh gives birth to fleshThe acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21, NIV 1984). 
  • Spirit gives birth to spiritBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22–24, NIV 1984). 

My Advice – But maybe we are a loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good (relatively), faithful, gentle, person with a lot of self-control. Maybe we don’t engage (much) in “acts of the sinful nature.”  We’re in right?  We’ve inherited the Kingdom of heaven.  The fruit does not give Spiritual birth (born again). Spiritual birth (born again) gives birth the fruit. “For it is by grace you have been saved [born again], through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works [your fruit], so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created [born again] in Christ Jesus to do good works [fruit of the Spirit], which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8–10, NIV 1984). 

No one (other than Christ) can judge us, but we must evaluate our fruit.  If the fruit is there, we need to evaluate what gave it birth.