“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,”. Titus 3:4-5
How do you know that God loves you? How do you know that you’ve been accepted by God and are saved? How do you know that you’re a son or a daughter of God? Ordinarily, if we wanted to test the validity of something, anything, we would look for changes in abilities. Some evidence of improvement relative to a desired standard. And this is a reasonable, valid approach even regarding the questions we’ve just asked about our salvation, provided you have a good understanding of what the desired standard is.
But how do you measure changes you don’t really understand? I find it interesting to note that when the apostle Paul gives evidence for the presence of sin in people’s lives he has no problem writing lengthy lists of behaviors to substantiate his assertions. But there are very few lists detailing righteous behavior and the best and clearest of them are not so much lists of behaviors as they are traits of character. And this makes sense since salvation is not so much changing what you do as it is changing who you are. It changes not only what you do but why you do what you do. And this renewing, this cleansing of self of even the motivations of a sinful character isn’t something you or I can do for ourselves. Titus 3:5 tells us that this profound, fundamental change comes by the working of the Holy Spirit.
I find it comforting and beautiful to note that this transformation doesn’t come to us because we’ve earned it. There is, in fact, no course of action we could take that would qualify us for the renewing accomplished by the Holy Spirit. God does what he does, provides what he provides, because of his own kindness, love and mercy.
But let’s go back to the change itself. God’s goal is not to merely change what we do. He wants to renew and regenerate us. He wants to restore his image in us. There’s nothing we can do to affect this change. We’ve all experienced the truth of this. Sometimes, for a period of time, we’re able to temporarily alter our actions but inevitably our inner nature returns. Law enforcement officials expect it. We’ve all heard experienced officers say that “people never change.”
And people don’t change. But God does change people. And he wants to change you. Not just what you do but why you do what you do. He wants to change you. Do you want that change?