"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 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, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
The verses give in basic, easy to understand language, the condition of humanity before God, and shows us the greatness of the salvation given to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Before Christ, we were typical humans.
- Foolish - Constantly making stupid decisions and choices,
- Disobedient - Rebellious (come on, none of us can deny that when we're told not to do something we want to do it even more!)
- Deceived - Believing every negative untruth ever said about us (you know the type; you're so ugly, you're not good enough, you're a failure, nobody wants you around etc.)
- Serving various lusts and pleasures - Being addicted and trapped by things (thinking we know true freedom because we do 'what we like'; think about some typical addictions and the sentences that follow them, 'I couldn't help myself', 'then I just thought, one more won't hurt', 'I mean who's going to know anyway?', 'I had an itch I needed to scratch, so I itched it' - any of these sounding familiar?)
- Living in malice and envy - Being full of unhelpful intentions and selfish desires, getting jealous when others do better or have more
- Being hated and hating others - This is pretty self-explanatory.
This is the picture of humanity that is painted in the New Testament, and if we look at the world around us I'd say it is startlingly accurate. By nature, this is human.
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us..."
But when you grasp even a little of what God is and what He has done for you, when you begin to understand what it is to live in true freedom, with God the Holy Spirit as your guide through life, you no longer find yourself acting the way you did before. Knowing God transforms you. As you understand more and more of who God is, as you see how much He loves you, not because you deserve it but because it's His nature, you become more and more like Him. It's not a conscious thing, you aren't 'trying to be Christ like' but in knowing God more and more, you find your human nature no longer dictates how you work, it's as if you've thrown it off and taken on the nature of God, and you can't help but live in a way that says, 'I've finally found God and He has changed me'.
Salvation is so beautiful because it's not about us trying to be better, it 's not about us doing things in order to make us good, it's about letting go of everything we cannot control (this means us ourselves too!!) and letting God lead and guide us, and ultimately transform us.
Try it, I PROMISE you won't be disappointed. If you think life is great now, in the words of Eliza Dolittle from My Fair Lady, 'just you wait'.