“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6
Flesh – What’s your birthright? Jesus gives you the answer. It depends on how you were conceived. Flesh produces flesh. Spirit produces spirit. The gap between the two is the distance from East to West.
Jesus doesn’t use this word the same way Paul does. When you come across the word sarx (flesh) in Paul’s letters, there’s a very good chance that the meaning will be something that fights against the Spirit. Often Paul uses sarx to describe what is sinful. But Jesus takes a much more neutral approach. Why? Because He probably used the Hebrew word basar, a word that just means the common flesh and bones of men and animals. No negative spiritual implication is attached. All Jesus is saying is that there are two kinds of birth – and they have very different origins.
This conversation with Nicodemus is usually a part of the “born again” justification, but Jesus doesn’t use that kind of language. Actually, Peter invents the word “born again” (anagennao). That idea never appears on Jesus’ lips. What Jesus tells us is that the origin of our birth is the determining factor. God has to breathe spirit into this basar body for me to experience His empowering. Otherwise, I am just moving mud.
Of course, Genesis 2:7 tells us that God did breathe His spirit into us. Before the Fall, we experienced the spiritual birthright that Jesus emphasizes. But then things fell apart. We lost the vital connection of empowering Spirit. We settled for moving mud. Over time, we came to believe that moving mud was enough. But dirt only produces dirt.
Jesus poses the same question to us that He asked Nicodemus. Why do you think that the flesh will offer anything more in life than flesh? You can hear Paul echo, “What you sow, you will reap.” The question is deep. How much of what we do really finds its origin in the Spirit? Flesh can’t produce Spirit, no matter how many times we try to make it work. If your goals, procedures, decisions, results or processes originate in the mud, at the end of the day you still have mud (even if it’s all dressed up).
Do you think that Jesus did anything that didn’t have its origin in the Spirit? Impossible! He tells us plainly that He does nothing except what the Father shows Him. Is that how we conduct our lives? Or are we trying to mix mud and wind?
We have a birthright that began with the breath of God. We were originally created spirit-empowered. It’s time, way past time, to get back to the origin. Leave the mud pies behind. Ride the wind – wherever it goes.
Topical Index: Flesh and Spirit