Wednesday Night Lesson: ‘Holy Spirit -Regenerator for Salvation’

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Currently we are in the heart of winter. The cold weather and icy conditions cause us to wonder if it will ever be warm again. It will. Spring follows winter.

Springtime is a perfect illustration of salvation. Salvation, or regeneration as we will consider it tonight, is God restoring life to that which was dead.

Ezekiel 36:16 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 17 Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. 18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: 19 And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. 20 And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.

21 But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. 22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

This passage can be divided into four sections:

1)   Mercy upon the undeserving

2)  Cleansing of sin

3)  Creation of a new heart

4)  Indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit

Those same four steps pertain to our salvation as well. Note what Paul wrote to Titus

Titus 3:5 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;

I. Mercy Upon the Undeserving

A. Undeserving

1.  Israel

The Israelites were God’s chosen people. They bore God’s name. Yet they had profaned God’s name. Five times God accuses them of profaning His name by the way they lived. Rather than bringing glory to God’s name by honoring it, they defiled it by worshipping idols. We read in the book of 2 Kings:

“They were as stubborn and refused to believe in the LORD their God. They rejected his laws and the covenant he had made with their ancestors. They worshiped worthless idols. They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and used sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the LORD’s anger.”

2.  Us

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 1:21 … when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Contrary to what many think and teach, mankind has not ‘evolved’; mankind has ‘devolved.’ We have not lifted ourselves up to a higher level; we have lowered ourselves to a lower level of sinfulness and rebellion against our Creator.

3. Result?

What are the consequences of rebelling against God? The Bible says that it is death. The Lord warned our first parents that in the day they disobeyed Him, they would surely die. Yet they were deceived. The devil told them that they would not die and so they disobeyed God. Yet what Satan told them was a lie. Just as James says, ‘when sin is finished, it bringeth forth death.’ (Jas 1:15)

a) Physical death

According to Genesis 5:5, at the age of 930, Adam died. ‘Wow!’ you say. ‘930 years is a long time to live!’ It is; yet Adam would have never died if he had never sinned. The wages of sin is death. The Bible says that it is ‘appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.’ (Heb 9:27) Death is the result of Adam’s sin.

b) Eternal death

But physical death is not the only kind of death men will experience. We read in Revelation 20 that those whose names are not found in the Lamb’s book of life will be cast into a lake of fire which scripture describes as the ‘second death.’ Does that mean that they will be annihilated? Will they quickly burn up and cease to exist? Death is the absence of life and since Jesus is the life, eternal death is eternal separation from Christ. It is to spend the rest of time in a place of pain, suffering, isolation and outer darkness.

c) Spiritual death

There is still another death that sin brought and it is the worst of the three. It is spiritual death. The Bible teaches us that God made us with a body, soul and spirit. The body experiences death at the end of physical life. The soul experiences death as it spends eternity in hell. Yet the spirit experiences death everyday as it does not know God. Why do so many people have so little interest in God? It is because they are spiritually dead. The part of them that was created to know and fellowship with God is dead. When did it die? The spirit of man died the moment Adam and Eve sinned against God.

We read in the second chapter of Ephesians 2 that mankind is ‘dead in their trespasses and sins.’ According to scripture, spiritual death makes it impossible, for even the religious, to understand spiritual truth.

(1)  Jesus told the Samaritan woman – “Ye worship ye know not what…” (Jn 4:22)

(2)  Paul wrote concerning the Jews that they had a ‘I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.’ (Rom 10:2)

Spiritual death does not stop us from being religious, rather it prohibits us from worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

B. God is Rich in Mercy

God had every right to punish Israel. He had every right to destroy Adam and Eve. He has every right to destroy us. Yet the Bible says –

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

The question we might ask is – ‘Why would God chose to be merciful to the undeserving?’ The Lord plainly told Israel –

Ezekiel 36:22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake…

Not because you deserve it, but because I desire to bring Myself glory. How does God bring glory to Himself by being merciful? Paul tells us –

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

The reason God is merciful to the undeserving is so that they might praise Him for His grace. As the children of God, we should make much of God’s mercy and grace.

II. Cleansing of Sin

The second great truth we learn from Ezekiel 36 is that God desires to cleanse us of our sin –

Ezekiel 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Paul echoes that thought in

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration …

What is the ‘washing of regeneration?’

A.  Is it Baptismal Regeneration?

Is Paul telling us that God cleanses us through water baptism? The Bible clearly teaches us that men are not baptized for salvation, but as a result. Although water baptism is important, it is not a part of your salvation. How do I know that? Consider the words of Paul –

1 Corinthians 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel:

Water baptism is a physical symbol of a spiritual reality. What is the spiritual reality?

B.  Washing of Regeneration

1.  What is ‘regeneration?’

a)  The word ‘regeneration’ means “new birth.” It is to be born-again.

b)  Jesus said to Nicodemus – ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ‘Marvel not that I said unto thee,Ye must be born again. (John 3:3, 7)

2. What is it about the new birth that cleanses us?

What cleanses a man from His sin? What can wash away my sins? ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus.’ Is that scriptural or just a line to an old song?

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.

Nothing but the sinless blood of Christ that was shed upon the cross can cleanse a man of his sin. Yet we know that for that blood to cleanse us, we must put our faith and trust in it.

Some believe that Jesus died only for those God has chosen to be saved. Scripture teaches us that He died for the sins of the world. Yet His blood will not be appropriated to their sins unless they receive Him as their Savior. Note the words of Peter –

1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Note:

a) ‘Ye have purified your souls’ (Purified means – made holy)

b) ‘By obeying the truth’

(1)          What is that truth that they obeyed?

(2)          Vs. 25 – ‘the gospel preached unto you’

(a)           What is the gospel?

(b)          1 Cor 15:3-4 – Death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ

c) ‘Through the Spirit’

We learned from John 16 that it is the Spirit of God that converts a man to salvation. How does He do so? He does so by convicting him of his sin and convincing him of the Savior. How does the Spirit convict and convince? He does so by the Word of God and in particular, the gospel.

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

25 … And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

3.  What then is the Washing of Regeneration?

It is when the Holy Spirit of God takes the Word of God and convicts a man of his sin; convinces him of a Savior; cleanses him through repentance and faith; and creates in him a new heart.

III. A New Heart and the Indwelling Presence of the Spirit

Ezekiel 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Titus 3:5 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;

  • Phillips’ translation of the Titus 3:5 says – “by the cleansing power of a new birth and the moral renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
  • The Amplified Bible translates it as – “by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit”

There are many results of the new birth, but allow me to list three:

A. A New Heart

‘A new heart also will I give you.’ (Ezek. 36:26)

1.  The new heart God promises is a new mind.

2.  It is a mind that is no longer at enmity with God, but the mind of Christ

3.  1 Cor 2:16 teaches us that – ‘…we have the mind of Christ.’

B. A New Attitude

‘And a new spirit will I put within you’ (Ezek. 36:26)

1.  ‘A new spirit’ is a new attitude.

2.  A study of the word reveals that it pertains to –

i. The seat of mental acts

ii. Especially of moral character

C. A New Walk

‘And cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them’ (Ezek. 36:27)

1.  ‘Walk’ refers to how we live on a daily basis. It’s our lifestyle.

Eph 4:1 ‘I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

2.  The believer should have a new walk because:

a)  He has a new heart

b)  He has a new mind

c)  He has a new power

Ezek 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Titus 3:5 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;

i. God promises us a new power that will enable us to live for Him.

ii. That power does not come from our self-will. Paul wrote –

Rom 7:18 ‘… to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

iii. The word ‘renewing’ in Titus 3:5 refers to a new strength and vigor that produces growth. What is the strength and vigor? The strength and vigor to live the Christian life comes from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. He is the power of God living in us.

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