The Need for Rebirth
But for us to achieve the good character which will bring us into heavenly situations and give us eternal peace and happiness, we have to be reborn. I don't have to remind you that the Lord strongly insisted upon this kind of rebirth in His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3). Without getting into the why's and wherefore's, there is certainly no question that we come into this world with a tendency toward selfishness and the negative things which come with it. Now, far be it from me to say we are born evil! Everyone is born with tendencies toward evil which have a way of coming out into their actions. These tendencies are hereditary, just the way tendencies toward physical diseases are hereditary.
Even a baby is self assertive, and as the child grows up, his egoism becomes stronger and needs to be kept in line all the time. If it weren't for the discipline of life and the influence of the Divine love and wisdom holding us back, we would all break out into terrible crimes.
By physical birth we are creatures of heredity and the children of our natural parents. By spiritual rebirth, or regeneration, we become children of God. We come into this world with the stamp of self. It is a good thing for us if we leave it with the likeness of God, as spiritual members of His family.
In saying that children are born with innate tendencies toward evil, I am considering the known facts of today. But this should not make us think it was always that way. Originally people were born into good. God, who is Good Itself, could not create evil.
But in creating the human being, He did not make a robot. For a human being to be human, with spiritual freedom, he has to be able actually to want the good he was made for. And to be able to want what is good, there has to be another choice. Evil came into being through people making this other choice. They turned away from willingly following God and gave in to the pull of their senses. They asserted themselves so much that self began to rule them.
In this way, evil, which is disorder, came into the scheme of things through people's turning away from God. And heredity has perpetuated the tendency to disorder.
It could be said that in creating a free being, God had to take the chance of his abusing that freedom. But it could also be said that God foresaw this abuse and right from the beginning provided for dealing with it.
The provision He made is what is known in religion as regeneration or rebirth a spiritual process by which a person gets back into spiritual order. From being dominated by self love and materialistic thinking, he comes to love God and mankind. It is by this rebirth that a person becomes spiritually the image and likeness of God.
We know from history and personal experience that men and women have become unselfish. People who used to be dominated by self love and by the desire for wealth and pleasure are now led by worthy motives and live to honor the Lord in serving other people. In the old revivalistic days it would be said that they'd been converted.
How can this kind of change in a person's whole life be possible? How can a person with bad tendencies, who is living a selfish and immoral life, be changed into a good person and a true follower of the Lord? This kind of transformation is certainly the miracle of miracles!