“He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” – Titus 3:5
According to Paul, a person is put through the wash when they are saved. It reminds me of my Haiti experience.
Our mission team was in Haiti to put a roof on a church building. I stayed with a family in a house that made my walk-in closet look big. But the hostess was most gracious.
It was at the end of day two for me. I was desperate to bathe, but the new towel and washcloth, that I had used the day before, were missing. Someone snatched them from the line. Great! It was going to be a stinky, sweaty week for me.
Another day passed and the purloined linens reappeared. Evidently my hostess took them down to the river, with her laundry, to wash them for me.
However, she used the old beat-them-with-a-rock method. They came back to me frayed and tattered with holes in several places and the fabric had a nice sandpaper feel.
She was all smiles – delighted to have been so hospitable. I thanked her for her kindness and then took the washcloth and sanded off a layer of dirt from my arms.
The washing took something new and made it useless. When Jesus washes us, however, he takes the useless and makes them new.
Theologians call this phenomenon, “sanctification” and it affects the Christian in three ways.
– Sanctification takes place the moment that we come to faith.
It is then that God declares us as belonging to the clean ones. In laundry terms, we have been placed in the special laundry basket of the redeemed.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, who were at time, grossly immoral, and yet he said, “to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 1:2) Paul addressed their sad lifestyle later in his letter, and yet nevertheless he recognized that they were saved and set apart for God.
Because we enjoy the new birth, we also are given a new capacity to live righteously. Doesn’t mean we will, but we have it within us because we have been sanctified. All this is painless by the way, but not so with the second installment of sanctification.
– Sanctification takes place progressively throughout our lives.
This kind of cleansing is experienced. This is where God trains us, corrects, teaches, refines, and transforms us, progressively, each day, so that we increasingly resemble the precious Son of God.
Think of this as loading the laundry into God’s washing machine. The churning and spinning and hot water can be uncomfortable for us, but necessary to work the dirt free.
But beware! The darkness within us can be as stubborn to remove as that stain on your shirt. This is because we have a part to play in this kind of sanctification. Paul wrote, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires.” – Romans 6:12
– Sanctification is eventually completed.
This happens when we meet Jesus, face-to-face. Paul wrote, “But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.” – Philippians 3:21
It will be then and only then that we will become perfect. Think of this as pulling your wardrobe for the day from the dryer – the colors are sparkling bright, and the smell is meadow fresh.
That will be you and me some day, thanks to God who sanctifies us!
A PRAYER: Thank you Lord for cleaning me up and getting me ready for heaven.
This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you
Scripture references are from the NETBible ®