Why Sinners Need to be Born Again

Posted by Mark Lindley on 23 August 2003 | Comments

On the occasion of John 3, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again” (verse 7). I am confident that nearly everyone who tries to follow the Bible would agree that being born again is not optional. Jesus said that the new birth is a “must.” But there are different views concerning why sinners need to be born again.

Some believe that sinners need to be born again because of inherited sin. According to this view, every baby is born in a depraved condition, having inherited sin from his parents all the way back to Adam (Genesis 3:6). Essentially, then, this view suggests that sinners need to be born again because “Adam” sinned.

But are babies really born in sin? Consider what the Bible teaches. Paul said that we are “the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29); it is written in Zechariah 12:1 that the Lord “formeth the spirit of man within him.” God is referred to as the “Father of spirits” (Hebrews 12:9). These passages teach that the souls of all men have their origin with God. Now, if a baby is born corrupt in spirit, who is responsible? If the doctrine of inherited sin were true, wouldn’t God be responsible for man’s depraved condition since it is He who imparts spirits? Is there anyone who is willing to accuse God of creating and imparting depraved spirits? It appears that the inborn-sin doctrine is not in keeping with the facts of the Bible.

There is, however, another view. Some believe that sinners need to be born again because sinners themselves (not Adam) have sinned. The Scriptures teach that sin is something committed, not inherited. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). When one learns right from wrong and violates God’s will, he becomes a sinner (cf. James 1:13-16). This is why sinners need to be born again.