“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.'” (John 3:5)
To be “born of water and the Spirit” means to be washed from sin by the Lord, and renewed in your heart by His Holy Spirit, as we saw here in yesterday’s devotion. Ezekiel 36:25-27 makes that clear. But Jesus’ teaching here also reminds us of two important aspects of salvation:
— First, the “washing” teaches us that in salvation we are cleansed from our sins by the Lord.
— Then “the Spirit” reminds us that we are also renewed by the Holy Spirit of God, who comes into our hearts and regenerates us.
BOTH of these elements are vital in salvation. We are both washed from past sin, AND given a new ability to obey and serve God. Salvation is not ONLY “washing”; it also brings about a new obedience in a person’s life. BOTH are present whenever there is genuine salvation. Many people want to claim the washing and forgiveness of salvation, who show NO signs of a new obedience in their life. But BOTH of these will be present if one is really saved, for Jesus said we must be born of “water AND the Spirit”: there will be BOTH washing AND renewing.
The venerable hymn “Rock of Ages” has a line that teaches just what Jesus is saying here that He does for us in salvation: “Be of sin the double cure: save from wrath, and make me pure.” Those who are truly born again have experienced this “double cure” of genuine salvation: they are both washed from sin, and are given a new ability to live a holy life for the Lord.