Have you ever taken a hard look at yourself in the mirror and cringed…not so much because of how you looked but because of who you’d become? Or maybe just because of who you know you once were?
Maybe you haven’t, but I sure have. And that is one of the reasons I love all the letters from Paul so much. I find such hope tucked away in them. Hope that even a sinner like me can find cleansing. Rebirth.
Titus Chapter 3 speaks of this rebirth, this “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…”. Let’s take a look at it.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3: 5-7)
Do you see how much is packed into those three little verses? We aren’t saved by our works (the byproduct of living in communion with a Holy God is good works) but by His mercy. He shed His blood that we might live when we deserve to die. But this plan of redemption of for the whole world, in all it’s entirety.
Matthew 19:28 speaks of another such regeneration when Jesus refers to His return for His people. The entire world will be cleansed, both fallen humanity and a fallen earth.
Because when man took that first step into sin, God designed it that the entire planet would showcase the horror and indescribable wretchedness of sin as a reminder that this world is not our home. The glorious splendor of a perfect creation was marred from that first moment and has increased in decay as the centuries have passed. There is no hope outside of Jesus.
But the beautiful message Paul is sharing here with Titus is one of redemption, where sinful man meets His Saviour and finds the wholeness and power to live above his sinful being, until the regeneration of this fallen world. Look back at the text, starting with verse 1…
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared…(Titus 3:1-4)
Pause and soak that in for a minute. Because verse 4, which is what I bolded above, testifies to a God and Saviour who shows up right on time, in kindness, love and tender pity for degraded, sinful man.
He takes us as we are and where we are but then, in His unfathomable love, He doesn’t leave us there. He redeems us in all our undeserving wretchedness and calls us to live sanctified through the blood He shed to make it possible.
We ARE redeemed. The chains that bind us have been loosed, we just haven’t shrugged out of them yet. We cling to what we shouldn’t, feeling we need what we think we want. But if we train our eyes on that cross and on the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, we will no longer crave what we shouldn’t want to begin with. Which results in those “good works” found in verses 1 and 2.
If only we’d start at the beginning instead of starting without a beginning, we wouldn’t find ourselves repeatedly backslidden. Because the beginning is Christ. The relationship with Christ. To know Him is to love Him and to love Him is to be changed, from the inside out.
Paul begins to close his letter by entreating Titus to remind the people continually what he’s told him because…
…This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. (Titus 3:8)
Belief in God is a step, but that belief must compel us to seek Him out. To find Him for ourselves. To bask in His presence and dwell in His light. Because only then can we “maintain good works” and partake of the redemption so freely offered to us.
Are you studying along with us? Please, share your thoughts in the comments. Iron sharpens iron and we have been commissioned to be an encouragement to one another…