Bible Reading: John 3:1-21

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6)

God promised back in Ezekiel 36:25-27 that He “will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” 

Now, Jesus tells Nicodemus that apart from such heavenly intervention, no one can enter the kingdom of God. Jesus makes it plain that for us to be partakers of God’s kingdom where we can be reconciled with God to live in a loving relationship serving Him, we need the Spirit to intervene in our lives. Without God’s active work in our lives, there is no way we can know God or be born again. 

Like Nicodemus and the Jewish rulers, we often think that we can get to know God and be “good” Christians all by ourselves. We think it is plain and pragmatic — go to church, study the Bible, participate in ministry and church events, learn Theology to deepen our understanding and so on and so forth. We live by the principle of “squeezism”, a term coined by Rev. Dr Stephen Tong encouraging us to squeeze every moment for its eternal value. We do not waste our time with vain worldly things. Instead, our schedule is packed with ministry, extra Christian books, Bible study, the list goes on. 

Yet, in all our busyness, we forget the reality that all these things are in vain if the Holy Spirit does not work through these means of grace to draw us into the light. Despite knowing the Scriptures inside out, the Jewish rulers remained in the dark towards Christ, eventually crucifying Him on the cross. Similarly, however well-learned we are as Christians, we will always be in the dark to God’s spiritual reality unless, by some divine mercy, God’s Spirit melts our sinful and stubborn hearts and gives us hearts of flesh. 

Don’t be quick to say, “I know God. I’m a good Christian”. As humans, we are nothing, and such pride will only work to destroy us at the right moment. Instead, we ought to be humble and broken before the Lord. We are indeed nothing in God’s eyes. We are sinful and rebellious people who do not deserve His grace. We are or were dead men, lost in the darkness and depravity of our iniquities. Our only hope for any light is if God, in His good will, is pleased to work within us personally and change our hearts. This takes a miracle, and the most we can do is beg for it. 

May we have hearts like the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 who begged Jesus to have mercy on her despite acknowledging her unworthiness. 

Lord, we cannot do anything unless You send Your Spirit to change our hearts. Lord, You promised that You would do so for Your people. Have mercy on us and change our hearts. Give us life in Your ways. Turn our hearts to delight in You and Your ways. Forgive us, for we think that we are well off without You. We deceive ourselves in thinking that we are spiritually fine when in reality, only Your mercy sustained us. Give us Your mercy once again that our faith may grow, and we can grow to glorify You as Your humble servants. In Jesus’ name, amen.