This writer recalls the words uttered from space in one of the early space missions – “Houston, we have a problem.” The same can be said of the human race. The evidences of sin and evil, manifested in violence, hatred, prejudice, murder, theft, graft, deceitfulness, and dishonesty are apparent. The causes and blame for such actions and thought are ascribed to poverty, poor social environments, parental neglect, unemployment, lack of education and untold other reasons. No one would disagree that all these conditions do exist, but the motivating force behind it all is sin and evil.
Man’s best cogitations to explain why these exist fall miserably short because the spiritual factor is ignored. Scripture does not say that man in inherently good, possessing a spark of God that needs to be enhanced and stimulated. Rather, God’s Word teaches that mankind is born with a sin nature that alienates every individual from having a relationship with God until he or she has a new birth, a birth from above.
One of the most well-known passages of Scripture presents a conversation between Jesus and a religious leader of the Jews. “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:1-3 KJV).
Nicodemus was religious, seeking to know God by outwardly observing the Mosaic teachings. Yet there was one thing that he lacked – he did not have a personal relationship with the God of Moses for that required faith in the coming Savior. Jesus knowing the condition of this religious man, brought to the thinking of Nicodemus the necessity of being born again, a new birth that was not physical in nature, but spiritual. It would be a birth from above; a birth that would give man a new nature, spiritual in its origin and permit relationship with God who is Spirit. From the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus presented Himself as the healing remedy for man’s sinful condition … “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15 KJV).
For the Exodus generation, failure to look in faith to the brazen serpent on a pole meant sure death. But – everyone who looked, lived. There seated before Jesus was a man who only needed to receive by faith the offer of eternal life being presented by the very One who would soon go to the Cross and bear not only his sins but also those of the entire human race. In his natural state, he was spiritually separated from good, though he lived a moral life. The root problem was not his outward behavior for those were admirable but that he had a sin nature, that same nature that Adam and Eve acquired when they sinned against God.
It was the acquisition of that nature that brought spiritual death to the first man and woman. “And the LORD God commanded the man [Adam], saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die [spiritually]” (Gen 2:16-17 KJV). The wages of their sin was death [spiritual] and thus Scripture reveals the wonderful story of love and grace as the pre-incarnate Christ visited Adam and Eve and presented His Person, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world, … “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV).