You have been born again. Your new life did not come from your earthly parents because the life they gave you will end in death. But this new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. — 1 Peter 1:23
Jimmy Carter was relatively unknown outside his native state of Georgia when he announced that he wanted to run for President of the United States. Many people were surprised, not only because they didn’t know who he was, but because he also told reporters that he had been “born again.”
Often, when people don’t understand something, they ridicule it. This is precisely what happened in Carter’s case. Talk about being “born again” spread like wildfire, though, and in a very short time everybody was using the term. An athlete returning from injury became a “born again” athlete, a businessman recovering from bankruptcy was “born again” when he started up a new business. The more people talked about being born again, the less they meant by it, and as a result a superlative spiritual truth has been devalued in the popular understanding.
When Peter wrote “You have been born again” (1 Peter 1:23), he was referring to something that God does in a man’s life that determines his eternal destiny and changes his daily life. It is a “new life” both as it transcends death and qualifies the person for heaven, and as it transforms his life on earth on the way to heaven.
In the same way that a “baby cries for milk” (2:2), so the born-again man, having “had a taste of the Lord’s kindness” (2:3), craves spiritual nourishment so that he “can grow into the fullness of [his] salvation” (2:2). One of the evidences that a man is getting the right kind of nourishment is that his behavior changes. This is not a matter of putting on a religious cloak or a spiritual performance, but rather a deep work of the Spirit that changes attitudes and actions. A born-again man does not simply pretend to be good; he is truly “done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing” and all kinds of “malicious behavior and deceit” (2:1).
Jimmy Carter’s presidency was beset with problems, and he was not reelected to a second term. But he is widely regarded as one of the best ex-presidents America has ever had because of his godly approach to people, his gracious concern for those in need, and his humble walk in high places.
People may ridicule a claim to be born again—but they respect a the one who lives it.
For further study: 1 Peter 1:23–2:8
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.