No. 5: Come out of the darkness!
Nicodemus was a teacher and a member of the Pharisees, a group of religious leaders whom Jesus and John the Baptist often criticised for being hypocrites. Most Pharisees were intensely jealous of Jesus because he undermined their authority and challenged their views. But Nicodemus was searching and he believed Jesus had some answers. Daylight conversations between Pharisees and Jesus tended to be antagonistic, but he wanted to examine Jesus for himself, to separate fact from rumour. Perhaps he was afraid of what his peers would say about his visit, so he came after dark. A learned teacher, he came to be taught.
No matter how intelligent and well educated you are, you must come to Jesus with an open mind and heart so He can teach you the truth about God.
Like Nicodemus, we must examine Jesus for ourselves – others cannot do it for us. Then, if we believe He is who He says He is, we will want to speak up for Him. Nicodemus left that evening’s encounter a changed man. He came away with a whole new understanding of both God and himself.
Later, when he understood that Jesus was truly the Messiah, he spoke up boldly in His defence (John 7:50-52) at the Supreme Court. As the court discussed ways to eliminate Jesus, Nicodemus raised the question of justice. Although his objection was overruled, he had spoken up. He had begun to change.
Our last picture of Nicodemus shows him coming out of the darkness to join Joseph of Arimathea in asking for Jesus’ body to bury, John 19:38-42. Realising what he was risking, Nicodemus was making a bold move. He was continuing to grow. God looks for steady growth, not instant perfection. Jesus taught that the Kingdom would come to the whole world (John 3:16), not just the Jews. It would be ruled by God and be alive in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus wouldn’t be a part of it unless he was personally born again, John 3:5. This was a revolutionary idea: entry to the Kingdom is personal and its entrance requirements are repentance and spiritual rebirth.
We are all wooed by the Living God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, often in response to the prayers of others. We are offered the free gift of eternal life through His Son, but it is up to us, as we have free choice, to choose to follow Jesus and receive the power to live and walk in the Kingdom of God. As our natural birth is by the action of our parents, so our second birth is by the power of the Trinity, John 3:6. All of us must have a change of heart. A new resolution alone does not change the basic heart of a person who is dominated by sin. Only when sin is put under the Blood of Jesus can there be a permanent change of heart.
Being Born Again John 3:16
We can see, then, that we are not Christians because:
1. We were born in a “Christian” country.
2. We have Christian parents. God has no grandchildren, only children (John 3:6); each generation needs to know God for itself.
3. We do our best and live a good life and we don’t hurt anyone.
4. We were christened as a baby.
5. We go through some ritual or share in a sacrament (baptism or breaking of bread). See Galatians 6:15 and Hebrews 10:11-14.
6. We belong to a church, Luke 18:9-14.
None of these things is effective. We must be born again. This is an inward, spiritual experience, an encounter with Jesus Christ, which puts us into a right relationship with God as His children.
How do we get this FREE gift?
You receive this free gift when:
1. You see sin as the hindrance to being right with God.
2. You recognise the futility of your own efforts to win God’s favour.
3. You determine with God’s help to forsake your sin (repentance).
4. You realise that Jesus is the only way of salvation.
5. You recognise that trusting Him means submitting your life totally to Him as your Lord.
6. You receive Him personally, by faith, as your Rescuer and Lord.
Now you have eternal life! You are saved! You are born again! You are in God’s family… by faith in what God has promised, 2 Peter 1:3-4.
What happens when you are born again?
Here are a few of the wonderful things that happen. There are many more!
1. You are born of God – see John 1:11-13.
2. You become a new creation – write out 2 Corinthians 5:17.
3. You are part of a new kingdom – write out Colossians 1:13.
4. You have passed from death to life – see John 5:24.
5. You have been redeemed (bought back) – “You must know (recognise) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless, fruitless way of living inherited by tradition from your forefathers, not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but you were purchased with the precious blood of Christ the Messiah, like that of a sacrificial lamb without blemish or spot”. 1 Peter 1:18-19 (Amp).
6. You have been saved from sin – Matthew 1:21; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:13-14.
7. You have fellowship with God and His children – 1 John 1:3.
There is NOW no condemnation
The word condemnation means “unfit for use”, like a building that is condemned and about to be demolished.
Jesus never condemned anyone, but we condemn ourselves by not believing in the Name of God’s only Son. Jesus came to save the world – as we have seen. So, it is up to us to walk in faith. Then we are not condemned. The easiest way to walk by faith is to walk in the light. Jesus is the light of the world.
When we want to obey our flesh, be it body, mind, will or emotions, we have to hand these desires and attitudes over to the Lord and see whether what we want to do lines up with the Word.
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105.
Then we have to have the go-ahead from the Holy Spirit to do what we feel is right. This is the only way to live the Christian life. Otherwise, we are just living like the world. We must accept and receive from our hearts God’s forgiveness and know that there is no condemnation when we are in Christ. Whenever we have guilty thoughts, we remind the lying demons what the Word says and guilt is not part of our life.
The Christian life is a unique way of life because we live by the power of the Almighty God inside us. We cannot better ourselves. It is completely the work of His Spirit within us. There is nothing we can do ourselves. If we want to do anything in secret, it is a fairly sure test that it is not right. If we insist on doing it, we will firstly lose our peace, and then have to pay the consequences, which there always are to every sin, even if we do not suffer straight away. We reap what we sow.
Step one: Recognise that God does not condemn you, so why condemn yourself?
Step two: Make the Word the centre of your life and speak it out of your mouth.
Step three: Write out anything that still haunts you with guilt and put it under the blood of Jesus once and for all. So many problems come from false guilt. Along with worry, this is the cause of so many sicknesses and diseases. Guilt comes from the demons assigned to lie to us, so “we must take every thought captive to make it obedient to Jesus Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Step four. Let the Holy Spirit flow through you to others.
The Word of God says. “There is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1
WE MUST CONCENTRATE ON THE AMAZING LOVE OF GOD who knows our motives and actions. He is greater than our consciences. “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practise real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” 1 John 3:19-20 (AMP)
We have it straight from God’s mouth, so we must believe it and not let the devil steal our peace by reminding us of our shortcomings.
The blood of Jesus Christ is more than enough to cover every sin.
Home Challenges for Power Up! – No. 5: Come out of the darkness!
1. Read the notes about Nicodemus “coming out of darkness“. What did you identify with in this story? What did you feel about Jesus’ reaction to Nicodemus?
2. What about being born again? Have you made a decision? Are you still considering the claims of Christ? If so, why?
3. Do you have a passionate relationship with Jesus now, with the same joy and excitement of your first love? Revelation 2:1-7
4. Is there any problem in your life that you still feel condemned about? Would you stop now and write out the problem and write beside it very boldly what the Word of God says about it (e.g., Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:9)
Read John 3:22-36.
5. How do you think the disciples were feeling according to John 3:22? What was happening to them?
6. The moment Jesus was on the scene, did John the Baptist give up? What was he doing, see John 3:23?
7. What happened between the two sets of disciples? See John 3:25
8. Why do you think John was not jealous of Jesus’ ministry? John 3:27
9. Do you have a gift from God and are you using this to fulfil what God has asked you to do? What is it and how are you using it?
10. What testimony does John give about Jesus in this passage?
11. According to John 3:30 what was John’s aim?
12. Is this your aim? If you look back one year, can you say this is true for you?
13. How did John demonstrate by his attitude and actions that Jesus was superior to him?
14. In John 3:32 what does the Bible say people will do with Jesus’ testimony? What do we do if we accept that it is the truth?
15. What has the Father given the Son? John 3:34
16. What do we have to do in order to receive Eternal Life?
17. Choose a memory verse from this passage and learn it.
18. Write a short sentence summing up this passage.