"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient
led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures,
passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness,
but according to his own mercy,
by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that being justified by his grace,
we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
Up to this point, we know that God, through Jesus Christ has saved us. More specifically, we read today that God saves us by the 'washing of regeneration' and 'renewal'. In other words, God saves us by making us 'new' and 'clean'. The new birth is a theme that runs throughout the Bible story, especially the New Testament. In John 3, Jesus says that "unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Again in 2nd Corinthians, Paul writes, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2nd Corinthians 5:17). At the heart of the Christian story is God making new that which was lost in the fall. God created all of life to be held together in intimate harmony with himself. At the fall, that perfect relationship was lost, and since then everything is suffering. The promise of the Old Testament is that God will redeem his creation from this mess. The glory of the New Testament is that this promise is completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This was his plan from the beginning. Here, as Paul writes to Titus, he reminds Titus of this good news.
So, by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are given completely new life. I love this language of the 'washing' and 'regeneration' and 'renewal'. Sometimes its easy to minimize the Christian faith to a few external acts like going to church and 'being good'. Yet, this language shows how this gospel is something way different. It is a complete renewal. It is a complete washing away of the old nature and an implantation of the new nature. It is a complete regeneration. Jesus came to give new life, not second chances. Now, when I say 'complete', I am not implying that we will no longer sin, or that we are now perfect. Far from it. But, we have been completely redeemed from the reign of sin and death. In other words, we are no longer slaves to sin, it is no longer our master. Secondly, we are redeemed from the punishment of sin and death. There is no more condemnation. Jesus died and resurrected that we may be 'new' and 'clean'. Next time we'll talk about how this gift is a one of complete grace, and how this gift changes our lives.