For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
From Pastor Ray Stedman (in the 1970’s)—
Good deeds are not enough; our greatest need is not merely to become nicer people. We need to be turned inside out and shaken! We need to be completely changed! We need to be saved! That’s what Paul means when he talks about “the washing of regeneration and renewing.” He says that God completely makes us over from the inside. God does not patch us up from the outside like an old inner tube. He completely melts us down and remolds us in His own image, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit. The supreme message of the church is to proclaim this great news—“the hope of eternal life” (v.7).
Understand that when the Bible speaks of hope, it does not use the word in the same way we usually do today, meaning a faint glimmer of a possibility: “I hope I win the Irish sweepstakes,” or, “I hope that clattering sound of the engine doesn’t mean what I think it does!” When the New Testament speaks of hope, it speaks of certainty: The hope of eternal life rests upon the One who came to give us eternal life, and we are justified by His grace. This is rock-solid reality!
The world is changing rapidly. We witness morality crumbling, deviant behavior being called normal, moral values being redefined as “repressive.” We see good being called evil, and evil, good. Arrogance, extremism, and hedonism are celebrated and applauded in our society: humility, moderation, and virtue are ridiculed. If we do not have a rock-solid hope in the midst of such rapidly shifting, dizzying, sickening changes, we will succumb to despair. Paul describes the hope that God has given us in
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”