(Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash)
He saved us...by the washing of regeneration
and the renewing by the Holy Spirit
When a person becomes a Christian, does anything change? We are on our way to heaven, but what about now? How does a person come to the place of wanting to believe? The Bible says we are born sinners who are separated from God. Our sinful mind is hostile to God (Rom 8:7), and our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). People who are far away from God love darkness more than light. They are afraid the light will expose their sin (Jn 3:19-20). Jesus is the light of the world (Jn 8:12) so how can anyone ever come to Him if they would rather live in darkness? Romans 1:16 says the gospel is the power of God for salvation. The good news of Jesus Christ has the power to save. When a person hears the gospel and responds, God rescues us from the darkness and brings us into His kingdom. He makes us a new creation by His power. This change is called regeneration.
Regeneration is God making us new by His power. Several Scriptures talk about regeneration using different words to describe what it is:
In Ezekiel 36:26, God says He gives us a new heart and a new spirit. He will replace our stony hearts with a tender heart, and give us His Spirit, so we can respond to Him and obey His word. Receiving a new heart and the Holy Spirit is another way of describing regeneration
As the above verses show, the moment you put your faith in Jesus, certain things happen that now define who you are in Christ. You are a new creation with a new heart and a new spirit. You are alive in Christ...you have been born again. It is a work of God and doesn't depend on you. You contribute nothing to the work of regeneration because it is the power of God. Titus 3:5 says that God saves us, not because we are righteous, but because of His mercy and grace. He saves us by the washing of regeneration (NASB) or rebirth (NIV).
God also declares believers righteous. The Bible calls this act of God justification. When God justifies you, He sees you as if you had never sinned...a complete pardon! Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins and His blood was the perfect sacrifice that satisfied God's holiness, He is the mediator (1 Tim 2:5). Justification has been described as Jesus, the God-man standing between us and the Father, and reminding Him that we belong. We are His child. The Father accepts us based on what Jesus did, and we believed.
BECOMING LIKE CHRIST
As a believer, God regenerated you, and He declared you righteous. It has already been done. You may look at yourself and think, "I don't see it; I don't look like Christ." The process of becoming more like Christ is called sanctification and is a separate work from regeneration and justification. Titus 3:5 says He saved us by the "washing of regeneration and the renewing by the Holy Spirit." The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is ongoing and is making us more like Christ. The renewing by the Holy Spirit is sanctification. Your salvation involves something God has done and something God is still doing. Today we looked at what God has done.
Source: Unlocking the Bible: Regeneration, Part 1