It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. (Titus 3:3-8)
Hmmm...both stupid and stubborn...not exactly the way I would want to be described, but in truth that description isn't too far off! In our sinful, self-absorbed life "before Christ", we are all both stupid and stubborn. Stupid implies that we were lacking the ordinary quickness or 'soundness' of mind that we now possess with having the mind of Christ. Our thinking outside of Christ was pretty dulled, especially where it came to the things of deep spiritual awareness or knowledge. It was slow as it comes to the spiritual things and pretty wishy-washy to boot. We'd like to "clean up" the description of our state of mind as "foolish", but truth be told - it all means the same thing!
Stubborn is quite applicable to our state of 'being' prior to Christ. Stubborn carries the idea of being so fixed on some way of thinking or course of action that we are resolute in that course of action regardless of where it will cause us to end up. We don't "want" to waiver from it because we have "willed" to continue, in spite of the consequences - we might not even consider the consequences because we are so attached to the pursuit we can see nothing else. I'd say "stubborn" about wraps up our condition of "willful" disobedience prior to Christ taking over the controls of our lives! I might even go so far as to say stubborn describes some of my current actions because I just don't let go of stuff that I know clearly is the wrong stuff to be pursuing!
The neatest part of this passage is the "but when". But when God...
Think about it - when God stepped in, he saved us from the dulled thinking and placed us on a course that would not take us off some deep end into a pit of despair. I love the "buts" in the Bible - there is always a hope for something better when we see that the condition we are in is not determined to be our permanent condition because we have a merciful and gracious God that reaches out to lift us out of our stupid and stubborn life pursuits. The 'buts' are there to help us realize we aren't 'bound to' being the stubborn and stupid individuals we can be apart from Christ!
We have been washed us inside and out by the Spirit and that washing is a continual thing. We are washed so that our choices will be affected - so the actions we exhibit won't be as stubborn or stupid as they would be if we remained steadfastly committed to doing things 'our own way'. Choices begin in the thought life - if it is moved from a place of 'lacking soundness' to a place of 'soundness of mind', won't the choices we make be better? Certainly! Actions proceed from our thoughts - so the way to better actions is through better thinking. The way to better thinking is an exchanged mind - renewed (washed) by the Spirit of the living God! We've been given the freedom to exhibit a new life - the life given by the Spirit of God. It is not 'positive thinking' - it is 'positive living' because our thoughts have been purified (cleaned up) by the Spirit of God within.
Our new life demands new choices and new actions. We don't take a bath and then put on our old, filthy clothing we just finished the yard work in an hour before. We put on fresh undies, don a freshly laundered shirt, and pull on a clean pair of shorts. Snug in the feeling of freshness that we experience through the "bath" and the "donning" of the clean clothes, we feel like a new person! Translate that into our spiritual life for just a moment. We are "bathed" by the Spirit and the Word - cleaning up our minds, washing away the dirty effects of sin in our lives. Then we are told to clothe ourselves with some pretty awesome stuff - peace, joy, righteousness, etc. There is a "freshness" in the renewal of the mind that produces a "freshness" in our "appearance". I guess it goes without saying that I certainly don't want to embrace a life of stupid decisions followed by stubborn actions - that would be silly. My life has been transformed - I've been bathed by the Spirit. How about you? Just askin!