The process of salvation involves washing and regeneration. “He [God] saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 nasb).
Let’s look at these concepts briefly, starting with washing, or cleansing. Sin defiles. We are inwardly dirty, and we need to be cleansed. Only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ can cleanse the sinner from all sin. How can we receive that cleansing? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 nasb). God not only forgives the past, but He also cleanses us from all the defilement of sin. In the same chapter, John said that it’s the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, that cleanses us. (See verse 7.)
The second phase of this process is regeneration, or rebirth. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 nasb). This is a birth that comes from God’s realm above. A little further on, Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6 nasb).
When we were born of our mothers, it was a birth of our physical bodies and our fleshly nature. That is not the kind of birth that brings salvation. We have to receive a totally new life born into us by the Spirit of God from above. That is regeneration, or rebirth.