This verse is often used by those who believe that the “washing of regeneration,” or water baptism, qualifies a person for heaven. The immediate context needs to be considered. Paul is explaining the importance of good works. He began in verses 1-2 by showing how Christians should not fight but rather be kind and gentle. In verses 4-5, he said believers are saved “not by works of righteousness … but according to His mercy”! This is crucial, as no amount of works could ever justify a person before the all-holy God. Paul adds in verse 7 that they have “been justified by His grace.” Peter adds that the water does not cleanse a person from sin but is a “pledge of a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet 3:21). Baptism, then, is a public testimony of the spiritual cleansing that takes place in Jesus through faith (Acts 16:31; Rom 10:9-10; Eph 2:8-10). While every Christian should get baptized because it is commanded, this is not a work that is done for justification before God.