Until a person is born of a the Spirit, he or she remains unconverted. That which is born of the flesh is flesh (human birth), and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (spiritual birth). While every human being bears the image of God by creation, none are His children until they are born again. However, we find in Scripture that many individuals are extremely religious, zealously religious, before they are born of the Spirit. Nicodemus was certainly devout in his pursuit of God, but Jesus told Him that he needed to be born again. The apostle Paul had a zeal for his Jewish faith and the law of God to such an extent that he was blameless in keeping it’s rules and regulations. This religious zealot was apprehended by Jesus Christ and born again.
One of the marks of human depravity is our self-righteousness. This is so clearly portrayed in the account of the Pharisee praying in the temple there in Luke 18. This man was so self righteous and deceived that even when he thought he was praying, Jesus said he was talking to himself! Beloved, note this “religious” man’s attitude towards the beggar. Does that self-righteous spirit describe the way that you and I “evangelize” and look at other people? I believe that the new birth creates a change of heart and mind within a person. The saving grace of God humbles you. Yes, there are evil and wicked people in this world, but who did Christ die for? Once we are born of the Spirit, we become ambassadors for Christ. To be born of the Spirit is a call to be a witness for the glory of Christ in a dark and fallen world. To that end, you and I are “assigned” occupational and relational vocations. We are “divine plantings” of the kingdom of God where we live, where we work out. Jesus said we are salt and light in the midst of a dark world.
Angry, righteous evangelism may indeed have its place in the Christian life. Some “self-righteous” religious or liberal-minded tables need to be overturned! Confronting sin with the truth of a Scripture must also be done, but in love and for the glory of God. Yes, the world and their godless, liberal and hedonistic attitudes are like fingernails scratching a chalkboard (sorry). But what can one expect from those who are blinded by the god of this world and bound to a sin nature that knows no other way to think? Herein is our command to “occupy”, beloved. Pray without ceasing. Only God can change the heart of man. As much as lies within you, love them. Jesus was moved with compassion. Oh God have mercy! My flesh would just as soon nuke them. I mean wouldn’t that be “apostolic” to call down fire from heaven?
Dear child of God, we have been born of the Spirit, and to walk in the Spirit means that we will bear a Christlikeness in our manner of living that will indeed be a savor of death to some, and a savor of life to others. And while there may be a time to physically and verbally defy the ways and laws of the world of the unsaved, may we purpose to do so in a way that glorifies Jesus, instead of seeking to demonstrate to the world how bold I am. Peter tells us to sanctify Jesus in our hearts, and be ready to answer any objection or question about what we believe or why we believe. I believe that the daily call of God to those who are born of the Spirit is to live in a way that represents Christ’s compassion for the multitude, and not like the Pharisee in the temple. Make your life count for Jesus today, beloved….there is a harvest out there needing Jesus, not a Pharisee.