“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23
Birth is not something you do. Rather, it is something that happens to you. One does not choose to be born. Each of us was born by the force of another. By God’s miraculous design, muscles began to contract, our mother’s cervix dilated, water broke, and slowly we were each pushed out of the womb. Or perhaps a C-section was performed to remove you from the womb. Either way, none of us crawled out. By our mother’s hard work and God’s infinite grace, we were birthed into the world.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus uses the term, “born again,” to describe true salvation in John 3? He says to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” Then later in 1 Peter 1:23, we read that as believers we, “have been born again.” And notice that this second birth, when compared to the first, is described as being of imperishable seed and not perishable. What do these details teach us about salvation?
The over-arching truth I see here is that we cannot save ourselves any more than we could birth ourselves. Jesus told Nicodemus that in order for him to be right with God, something completely out of his control had to happen to him – he had to be reborn. No amount of good works or rule following could make Nicodemus righteous…and the same is true for each of us. We cannot behave our way into right standing with God. Our best will never be good enough, because perfection is impossible. Our holy God cannot stoop to our level. Therefore, because of His great love and compassion, He chose to bring us to Himself through the blood of His Son.
The second truth I see is a pre-cursor to the first. Why can’t we be good enough to save ourselves? Why must we be born again to have a relationship with Jesus? It is because we were born first of perishable seed. Our first birth was corrupted by sin. Through Adam, sin entered the human race. This sin affects every area of our lives. It corrupts the holy desires that are God-given in our design. It mars the image of God in each of us. That is why we need a second birth…one of imperishable seed – through the living and enduring Word of God. This new birth comes through the imperishable seed of the Gospel.
Our first birth, while wonderful and miraculous, carries with it heaviness. What should be the greatest display of God’s goodness and glory carries the shadow of death. The day we are born is the first day we begin to die. Our second birth, however, is the day we begin to truly live! It is the day that death is defeated. It is the day that the fear of death is removed, because we know that the truest part of us – not the body born of perishable seed but the soul that lives forever – has been recreated. New birth. New life. Living hope.
Jesus, thank You for the chance to be born again. Your sacrifice on the cross made a way for me to be forgiven and made right with God. God, help me to live daily in the grace that You have offered in Your Son, remembering that it is not my effort that has saved me, but Your grace. In Your name I pray, Amen.