Born-Again: Mickey Rooney was a husband eight times over, a star by the age of 19, and—after having earned and then wasted $12 million—a “bankrupt has-been” in his 40s. Last month, in his obituary, The New York Times described him as “impulsive, recklessly extravagant, mercurial, and addicted to playing the ponies and shooting craps.” Yet his life changed in the 1970s when “he stopped drinking and became a born-again Christian.” What does it mean to become “a born-again Christian”? Does it mean that his conversion was more emotional or radical? Does it mean that, since his life had fallen apart, he was in greater need of moral authority?
Spirit-Birth: In the gospel according to John, Jesus says that being born again is normal Christianity. He tells a morally upright religious leader named Nicodemus, “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.”  Nicodemus was not emotional or radical. His life had not fallen apart. Yet Jesus says that everyone—regardless of class, gender, religion, or ethics—must be born again of the Spirit.
Marks: In his letter, John spells out three things that mark the life of someone who has been born again. First, a renewing of the mind—not just a believing or a being convinced, but an experiencing and a new spiritual understanding: “The Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.”  Second, a renewing of the heart—a new identity as a child of God, not controlled by the evil one: “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”  Finally, a renewing of the behavior—an increasing conformity to the life of Christ that happens as a result of his protection over us: “Everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” 
Prayer: Lord, Only when we are born again by the Spirit are we able to live with a renewed mind, heart, and behavior. Therefore, we pray that we would be born again. Give us a new birth that we might be our children. Amen.
 John 3:5-6 ESV |  1 John 5:20 ESV |  1 John 5:19 ESV |  1 John 5:18 ESV