How to be certain that we are born of the Spirit
Before we can be certain that we are born of the Spirit we need to know that we have been “Born again”
What is to be “Born again”?
To be “Born again” is one of the key phrases in Christianity. Some say it should be translated “born from above”. Others say it should be translated “born anew”. Jesus probably spoke to Nicodemus in Aramaic and in Aramaic it means “except a man has another birth, he will never see the kingdom of God.”
“Born again”, “another birth”, “born from above”, “born of the Spirit”, “reborn spiritually”—it can be any of these terms and they could all mean the same.
Why be born again? The answer is that because man by nature is spiritually not alive. He does not see spiritual matters in the correct perspective. He is insensitive and is not interested in the things of the Spirit. He regards them as a waste of time. He is spiritually dead as he is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1 NKJV) Now to be born again is to be spiritually born anew. It is to have a new spiritual understanding, a new spiritual nature.
But how does one change from a worldly view to a spiritual view? When everything is going well for a person, he seldom thinks of God. But when a big crisis comes into his life—some major adversity, illness, suffering, hurt or trial—then he begins to question the meaning of life. He searches for consolingly words like: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV). He starts to listen and begins to read about spiritual matters to try to find some answers to his suffering. When he seeks, he will find, as Jesus promises: “Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 TEV) Also “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me” (John 6:37 TEV). When he truly desires and has a deep longing for spiritual understanding, God will open his heart, for “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20 KJV)
Slowly, the Holy Spirit would enable him to receive the truth concerning Jesus Christ and His crucifixion; for without the guidance of the Holy Spirit “no one can confess ‘Jesus is Lord’” (1 Corinthians 12:3 TEV). Once heis created anew by the Holy Spirit, he finds within himself a new outlook, a new hope and a new life. He cares more about righteousness and how to live a holy life. Yet, he knows that he is not left to the hopeless task of trying to improve by his own effort alone. The Holy Spirit is there to convict, to probe, to guide, to direct and to lead him. If he asks the Holy Spirit for help, he will be given a new start, a new beginning and a new life. He will find himself in a new world with a new power and a new hope. He becomes a new man spiritually. He is born again!
What is Born of the Spirit?
Man, who is spiritually aware, finds that his greatest need is to be reconciled to God. His innermost desire is to be put right with God. Why? He wants to have fellowship with God. He does not want his communication with God to be clogged up by his sins. But how can he be put right with God when he has sinned against Him? What he has done he cannot undo. He has sinned against God and he cannot undo the sins. He knows that he can spend an eternity trying to erase his sins and yet he can’t. It is impossible. No amount of good works can wipe out his sins. All his efforts cannot put him right with God. It is hopeless unless God comes to his rescue.
However, we know that He is a just and a righteous and a holy God, and He has said that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and “the soul that sinned, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) So, God being holy cannot condone or ignore that we have sinned. His justice and righteousness demand that our sins have to be punished and the punishment is death. But if He were to punish me for my sins, it would mean the death of me. I would then go into eternal death and be eternally banished from the presence of God.
But God in His mercy and grace has planned a way for us to be put right with Him. How? In the Bible, God reveals to us how He forgives our sins. He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins, to atone for our sins. He dealt with our sins by sending Jesus Christ to the cross. He laid our sins upon Christ: “Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made Him share our sin in order that in union with Him we might share the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 TEV) It was on the cross and in and through Christ that: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19 NKJV) Again, as St Peter puts it, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV) Thus, God forgives us our sins in His own holy manner, which He has planned since the beginning of time.
Do we believe that God in His mercy and grace has done this for us? He forgives us our sins. It is God’s grace. It is a gift from God! But the gift comes with the conditions that we repent and believe that Jesus Christ has died for our sins and He has borne our guilt and taken our punishment. In atoning for our sins, Christ has reconciled us to God. He has put right our relationship with God. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 TEV) Have we accepted this gift from God? Have we received it? “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:12 KJV) and “he that believeth on Him is not condemned” (John 3:18 KJV).
Once we receive and believe this gift from God, we are not condemned and we become the children of God. We are spiritually adopted to be the sons and daughters of God. We are reborn spiritually. Thus we are born of the Spirit.
But, how do we know that we are born of the Spirit? One way to test whether we are born or filled with the Holy Spirit is to ask: Are we full of thankfulness? Have we adopted an attitude of gratitude in most circumstances? Do we sing to ourselves and to one another in spiritual songs? Are we filled with the spirit of worship and adoration? Do we praise Him when we are alone? Do we delight in praising Him in public as well as in private? Do we bring joy to others? These are the inevitable results of being filled with the Holy Spirit as St Paul reminds us: “do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:18-21 NKJV)
Other tests are:
(a) We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3 TEV).
(b) We no longer find the commandments of the Lord to be grievous (1 John 5:3 KJV).
(c) We delight in following God’s commands more than in pursuing after great wealth (Psalm 119:14 TEV).
(d) We are conscious of the constant struggle within the soul—between what the Holy Spirit wants and what our human nature wants(Galatians 5:17 TEV).
(e) We thirst to know God better (Psalm 42:2 TEV)
(f) We are now more aware of the existence and deceitful working of Satan than we have ever been before (Romans 7:19 NKJV)
(g) We examine ourselves to see if any of the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control”(Galatians 5:22 TEV)—is being manifested in us.
(h) We are conscious of the Spirit working in us, so, “we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV). We comfort and encourage others in the regular counseling, listening, teaching, visiting or healing activities that we perform in His service.
When we find these things in us, we can be certain that we are born of the Spirit.