Spiritual rebirth refers to the new life a person finds when he or she becomes a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. This concept is also referred to as “salvation,” “regeneration,” or being “born again.”
Before spiritual rebirth, all humans are slaves to sin (John 8:34) and spiritually dead in their trespasses (Colossians 2:13). When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, they brought sin and death into the world. Every one of their descendants is cursed with a sin nature—a desire to live contrary to God’s will. As we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, we all live under the same curse (Romans 3:23) and deserve death as punishment (6:23). To save us from the curse, Christ Jesus came from heaven to live on earth as the perfect God-man and die a painful death on a cross, taking upon Himself the punishment we all deserve. He then conquered death by rising from the grave three days later. After His ascension back to heaven, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in all who put their faith in Him. The entrance of the Holy Spirit into a soul is what brings about the spiritual rebirth of that person.
When the Pharisee Nicodemus visited Jesus one night, Jesus informed him that, in order to see the kingdom of God, he must be born again (John 3:3). This was a concept that Nicodemus was unable to grasp, to Jesus’ surprise. Jesus explained further: “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ . . . Do you not understand these things? . . . For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:6–7, 10, 16). In saying that Nicodemus must be born again, Jesus was telling him that he must go through spiritual rebirth—he must start a new life in the Spirit—before he could enter God’s kingdom.
Jesus is the only way to forgiveness for sin and spiritual rebirth (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection, we pass from death to life; our sins are forgiven, and we are spiritually reborn. We are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:18). At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit enters the believer, and “the Spirit gives life” (John 6:63). The Spirit remains in us as a deposit guaranteeing our salvation (Ephesians 1:13–14) and as a guide for the new life of spiritual rebirth (John 16:13; Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:25). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).