Summary: Being born again is like taking a shower after a hard days work
Peeling Off the Grime
A side effect of hard physical labor is that we get dirty. Working out leave us sweaty and less than sweet smells. And after awhile, we start to feel as if we can take a putty knife and peel off the grime. I know I am really looking forward to summer. But summers here in Ohio can be a brutal as winter with excessive heat and high humidity. I really hate stepping out of a shower getting dressed only to feel that you need another shower 5 minutes later.
I personally will take 2 showers if I feel dirty. I have to really be exhausted to go to bed feeling dirty. There is just something getting into a bed made with clean sheets after a shower.
I remember has a kid I would go to the Municipal pool on a hot summer day. I would climb up on the diving board and dive into the pool. It would take about 2 seconds after hitting the water. Suddenly the sweat on my body would dissolve and the coolness of the water would wrap around my body. It was such a good feeling it still comes to mind when I read this morning’s scripture lesson.
The transformation from being dirty to clean is wonderful. It can relax my body so I can sleep or it can energize me so I can continue my day.
More than anything else this is my best way to convey what Jesus is talking about when He talks about being born again. There is a reason they call it the stain of sin.
Last week I told you that the wages of sin is Death. But like needing a shower, sometimes others can tell much faster than we can. We can get used to being dirty. Or we can be oblivious to halitosis. But to others it can be painfully obvious.
I have never been directly sprayed but I understand there is only one way to wash off the stink of a polecat. (Skunk to those who didn’t grow up a redneck) And that is to bathe in Tomato juice.
I told the Confirmation class that sin comes in two flavors; Original and extra crispy. Original sin is the stain we are born with. Extra crispy are the sins we personally commit which make us worthy of being fried to a crisp.
There is only one thing that can was away our sin. And this is the Blood Jesus shed on the cross in order to take our place. In the apostles creed we acknowledge that Jesus descended to Hell before His resurrection. He went so we don’t have to.
When we accept Jesus into our hearts we are washed in His blood and His sacrifice makes us white as snow. (given the weather lately I’ve got to come up with something else white to use as an example.)
This is what Jesus meant by being born again in the Spirit. Our sin is washed away leaving our souls blameless from original sin. This is summed up in the most quoted Bible verse. 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
It is at that point we become the adopted brothers and sisters in Christ. And we become active partners with the Holy Spirit.
However, we are still housed in bodies of flesh with the muscle memory of our sinful nature. And we must actively strive to become like Jesus. And allow the Holy Ghost to guide us. Otherwise we will find ourselves going down the same old road. Being born again doesn’t mean the work of life and struggles of being human are gone. We still must contend with extra crispy sin. the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
We must continue to believe and act in a manner that reflects that belief. Being born again is the beginning of a new life in Christ. That means we begin the work of what Paul calls “Putting on the New Man.” This is where we along with the Holy Ghost put in the effort it takes to stay clean.
And try as we may, sometimes we need to be washed again. Life is messy and as long as we live in these bodies, we will continue to sin. But if we allow the Spirit to work in our lives, we will recognize it and if not avoid sin we can repent and be saved again. And if we work at it we will not keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. But we must always to our part. But the good news is that Jesus will always be there for us so that we can continue to peel off the grime. Amen.