Cleansing the Shirt’s Fibers

He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3.5-7

Think for a moment about what happens when you wash a dirty shirt: the water and laundry soap move through the fibers of the shirt material and carry out the dirt lodged within those fibers. When we come to God, our minds and hearts are like that dirty shirt, cluttered with false beliefs and attitudes, deadly feelings, past deeds, misguided plans, and hopes and fears.

The Word of God – primarily the gospel of His kingdom and of the life and death of Jesus on our behalf – enters our mind and brings new life through faith. As we open our entire life to this new power and to those sent by God to minister the word to us, the word moves into every part of our personality, just like water and soap move through the shirt’s fibers. God’s word pushes out and replaces all that is false and opposed to His purposes in creating us and putting us in our unique place on earth.

 – Dallas Willard

[Dallas Willard, professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California and author well known to many Christians for his books on spiritual formation, including The Divine Conspiracy, The Spirit of the Disciplines, and Renovation of the Heart, died May 7, just days after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
His son-in-law posted this excerpt shortly before his death: “No Death…This accounts for Jesus’ numerous indications that, for the godly, death is nothing. Have no fear of those who can only kill the body, he says (Matthew 10.28). We will not even experience death (John 8.51-52) and will, in fact, not die (John 11.26)…Such is the understanding of the New Testament as a whole. Those who live in reliance upon the word and person of Jesus, and know by experience the reality of his kingdom, are always better off ‘dead,’ from the personal point of view…we live in the knowledge that, as Paul elsewhere says, ‘Jesus the Anointed has abolished death and has, through the gospel, made life and immortality obvious’ (2 Timothy 1.10).” The Divine Conspiracy, 393-394]