Titus 3:4–5 (CSB) — 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 5 he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Salvation is a supernatural experience that cannot be accomplished by human strength. This reality is necessary for understanding the Christian faith because Christ’s commandments do not depend on human strength but on the power of God.
We are saved through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit apart from our own righteous works.
“The washing of Regeneration”: This describes the single point in which one is reborn in Christ when you are washed in baptism (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:4; 1st Peter 3:21), born again through faith by the word (1st Peter 1:23) and the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). This is accomplished entirely through faith by the power of Christ’s resurrection (1st Peter 3:21) and at once transfers the believer out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s Love (Colossians 1:13). This is Christ’s supernatural work of deliverance by which we are saved from this perverse generation (Acts 2:40).
“Renewal by the Holy Spirit”: This describes the ongoing sanctification by which the believer is conformed to the image of Christ through the washing of the water of the word (Ephesians 5:26) according to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the blood of Christ (1st Peter 1:2) in which the believer is purified in obedience to the truth (1st Peter 1:22).
The key to understanding the faith of which these passages speak is to recognize that it is Christ effecting the work within the believer. This is not to say that the believer does not obey truth (Romans 6:17; 1st Peter 1:22), but rather, that new life is supernaturally affected within the believer by the power of Christ’s resurrection!
Someone can abstain from sexual immorality their entire life and not bring about new life in themselves because new life only comes from the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ. Apart from this holy faith, which comes from God, one cannot be saved!
To accept these doctrines necessitates that one also accepts the conclusion of Christ’s mission and nature:
1 John 3:5–6 (ESV) — 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Romans 6:1–11 (CSB) — 1 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him. 10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The believer cannot remain in a state of sin any longer, being darkened in their understanding of God and given over to desire more and more sin with a calloused heart, because they have been given supernatural rebirth by the power of God through the resurrection of Christ according to the working of the Holy Spirit!