Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?…
I. Man in a state of nature, or MAN BEFORE REGENERATION. Christ nowhere inculcates the doctrine of the fall, but everywhere assumes it. His doctrine of regeneration presupposes it, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh."
1. This depravity is therefore innate — "born." In Psalm 51. David says, "In sin did my mother conceive me." No wonder therefore that he should pray, "Wash me throughly." Two words are used for "wash."(1) The cleansing of the surface, just as a man washes his face.
(2) A washing that cleanses the inside as well, as a woman washes clothes. This David's word.
2. The turpitude is hereditary. This is a verity of science as well as of theology. Once degeneration enters a species, the process goes on from bad to worse unless a remedial check be applied. Adam begat a son in his own likeness. Like begets like. My personal sin grows out of an undercurrent of evil in the race.
4. Total. Not that every man is as bad as he can be, but that every faculty is more or less tainted, that the bias of the soul, the whole trend of our being is in the direction of evil.
II. Man changed from a state of nature into a state of grace, or MAN BEING REGENERATED.
1. Godliness begins in life. It is not a thing of profession or acquisition, but of birth; not a trade, but a nature.
2. This life is new; not a continuation of the old, but a new creation. Human nature is too dilapidated to be repaired.
3. This life is heavenly: in origin, nature, and direction. Heavenly —
(1) In opposition to the life of the carnal man.
(2) In contradistinction from that which God bestowed on man at his first creation.
4. It is specifically a Divine life. Thus
(1) superior to the angelic;
(2) to Adamic life;
(3) for it is the life of God Himself.Consequently regeneration is a supernatural process; not a miraculous, for Christianity ceased to be miraculous in the first century. The miraculous is only accidental to it, but the supernatural belongs to its essence.
III. Man in a state of grace, or MAN AFTER REGENERATION. Once a man is born again —
1. He is able to understand the gospel in its spiritual significance and relations. He "sees" the kingdom. The natural man may receive the thoughts of the Spirit of God, but not the realities represented by the thoughts
2. He "enters" the kingdom, becomes a denizen of it, a naturalized subject enjoying its privileges and sharing its responsibilities. His "citizenship is in heaven."
3. Having entered the kingdom its duties and privileges afford keen enjoyment to the new man. He "sees," relishes the kingdom, tastes the heavenly gifts, and that the Lord is gracious.
(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?