What does the born again life look like? What does being born again look like in practice? Everyone who has met a born again person knows they are far from perfect. In fact, we are guaranteed to struggle with living by the Spirit every day…
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Becoming spiritually alive does not make us perfect. It makes us forgiven. Being born again means that we have accepted what God did in sending his son to be a sin offering for us (vs.3).
This isn’t an excuse for sin – this isn’t a license to continue to sin because I am ‘forgiven’ and so I am above the law. In fact, the struggle of sin remains as our flesh and our spirits are in conflict. So born again people do not have a license to sin and nor are they immune from the temptation to sin.
The born again life is a life in which the spiritually alive person has to make a choice, which could end up being made week by week or day by day or even hour by hour. The choice is to serve the Spirit instead of serving our flesh. And although we cannot be born again again when we walk away from God and then come back, we can move from serving the Spirit to serving the flesh to serving the Spirit again. This is not being born again again. This is plain and simple life as a child of God.
Those who live according to the flesh (without being spiritually born) set their minds on earthly desires and are hostile toward God. The flesh does not – cannot – submit to God’s law, nor can it please God. When we are in this state, before we are made spiritually alive, Jesus says in John 3:18 that, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” When we go from living in according to the flesh to being spiritually alive, we move from being condemned to being free from condemnation.
The spiritually alive – the born again – live in the realm of the Spirit. Even though we struggle with sin and we are subject to physical death because of sin, the Spirit gives us life with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. And in light of these truths, Paul writes in verse 12 that we have an obligation – not to the flesh – to live by the Spirit and put to death the misdeeds of the body. That’s the Christian life. That’s the born again life. We live by the Spirit and put to death the misdeeds of the body.
This is a struggle and results in times when we feel like we are far from God. We sometimes feel so far from God that when we come back, we feel almost born again again, yet it’s simply the joy of our salvation being restored when we return to God.
Where are you in the battle to live for the Spirit and put the flesh to death? Consider that there is no condemnation in Christ, and choose to live a life worthy of what Jesus did for you.