“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt (lived temporarily) among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:12-14
You’ve probably read the first few verses of John many times. These verses are ones worthy of meditating on again and again. They are rich with truth that can bring our hearts much peace. Jesus was and is God Himself. He was there at creation and then gave up His place at His Father’s right hand to sojourn among us. “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (vs 4). John the Baptist came to clear the way for Jesus and bear witness of the true light – Jesus. His own, the Jews, did not recognize Jesus and therefore they did not receive Him.
And then the verse above appears. It’s clear that Jesus came for everyone. The word right (to become children of God) means permission, allow, authority, power to do anything. This is all God’s doing! And all we need do is just receive, which is what this site is all about. Notice how we receive and how we believe: “Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man.” When we are physically born, the baby has nothing to do with actually being born, except to just be there. A baby cannot work, can’t strive in any way to be born. It’s the mother who does all the work and even then, she knows she can’t do it alone and needs God’s help assisting her to bring forth a new life into the world.
I find interesting that 3 things are mentioned – blood, flesh and man. And the last 2 have a will attached to them. Believing Jesus cannot come by human effort. The Spirit doesn’t work according to our thoughts and intentions, and good thing, too. Also, the flesh and man are separate entities in this verse. Our human nature, the flesh, can represent the sinful things people can be and do. The flesh is our sinful tendencies. “Nor of the will of man.” The word man here means male as opposed to female. So this new life that is born cannot be one that comes as a result of a man and woman having sex. Sex cannot fulfill the love hole in our hearts that only God can fill. The life Jesus came to bring can’t come by any human way, but only by God.
So, if our spiritual birth can only come through God’s initiative, His Divine way, then it seems to reason that everything else in life has to come the same way. Paul talked about this a lot in Galatians. “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3). Here it is in another translation: “Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?”
This isn’t meant to shame you, but only to point out that we all do this. We all try and try to either please God, please others or please ourselves by striving, by working, by attempting to get God to do something. If we can possibly work enough, then we get a little glory for trying real hard. Our culture beats it into our heads that unless we work real hard we won’t get anywhere. But God’s way is the opposite. He did all the hard work. He finished paying for our sin. He pleased God on our behalf because we could never do it on our own. We did not add one iota to paying for our sins. He paid it all and that is what gives us the right to become His children. When we let go and just believe that He paid for our sin in full, then we are born again.
But this truth does not just apply to eternity, but also for here and now. Romans 8:31-32 states, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” If God did (gave) the hard thing, finished the hardest work we could ever know, then He will also give us all things, not just some things, but everything that comes our way is a gift from Him. And, it is done freely, without requirements, without payment, without you striving to make it happen. I have found over time, that whenever I find myself striving to make something happen, I know right then it’s not from God. If I find myself churning something over in my mind, plotting and planning how I can make this or that happen, I step back because I know it will not lead to any success. Yes we work and God created us to work and gave us gifts and talents. But I’m talking about when we strive because deep down we think God may not come through for us (which is really unbelief) so “I have to do it myself.”
We’ve all gone through times in our lives when we’re deeply disappointed with God; He did not come through for us or do what we asked of Him. I mean, didn’t it just say He’d freely give us all things? God always has our best interests at heart. I won’t go into unanswered prayer here (see the archives for a post on that topic), but all I am saying is that whatever we desire in life, whatever we are asking for, it has to come the same way our salvation came – through God’s doing and not our will.
Jesus, the Word, became flesh. He took on our finite body and lived in time that He had not lived in before. His flesh took all our sin! Just dwell on that for a while. And He firmly proclaimed, “It is finished” on the cross. Payment for all sin for all time was finished. But also, all striving, all work, all trying…was finished. So allow yourself to stop striving to make something happen in your life. Go back to the time you were saved and realize that it was all His doing. It was His Spirit at work and it was not of your efforts. Then just receive all His provision for you today in the same manner. Rest in His ability to bring about the answer to your prayer in His way. Allow Him room to bring His will about in your life.
It’s God’s glory to do things for you. It’s His way, His plan. He wants to bring grace and truth into your life in a tangible way. It’s not just an idea, but it’s real. Sometimes we just need to stop trying so hard. Sometimes we need to slow down and listen to what God is saying. We can push God aside easily when we are disappointed. That is the enemy’s way of getting our eyes off the ONE who loves us the most and is for us, not against us. God will never leave us, not ever. Allow Him room to do things for you and rest in His ability to do it completely.