"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" (Titus 3:5).
The word "washing" (Greek, loutron) is used only twice in the New Testament. There is the "washing of regeneration," as in our text, and the washing in the Scriptures: "Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:25-26).
Since both the Word and Spirit of God are also said to be the effective agents in accomplishing the miracle of regeneration (see I Peter 1:23—"being born again . . . by the word of God," and John 3:7-8—"Ye must be born again. . . . born of the Spirit"), it is clear that the washing of regeneration is synonymous, symbolically, with the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" and also with "the washing of water by the word."
The true washing of regeneration is not a ceremony or ritual, but an eternal reality, "shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:6). It has nothing to do with "works of righteousness" (v.5), but only with "being justified by His grace" (v.7).
Now although regeneration by the Word through the Spirit, both symbolized by a cleansing bath in water, is entirely "according to His mercy," there must be thereafter a continual "washing of water by the word." Jesus said: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. . . . If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:3,7).
The Word will first reveal our sins and then cleanse our sins through its gracious exhortations and promises. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word" (Psalm 119:9). HMM