In my last post I started talking about how other generations of believers experienced the transforming power of God. I said that we needed to be retaught what they had learned. I quoted a verse from Ephesians.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
According to Paul, the first thing we should be taught is how to put off the old self. This is talking about our flesh – the dwelling place of our evil desires. It’s the gift given to us by our ancestor, Adam.
According to James, this is where all of our temptation comes from.
…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
Contrary to what we see in the cartoons, it’s not the devil sitting on our shoulder that tempts us. It’s our own flesh that sees something it wants, and tries to get our soul to agree with it. The desires of our flesh – that’s where the battle starts.
Paul wrote a lot about this subject. It’s from his writings that we can learn how to overcome the flesh. It’s in Romans, chapter 6, that he begins dealing with the subject of sin. He tells us that it’s the grace of God that covers our sin.
Paul goes on to ask a question that may sound a little foolish, but it’s one we deal with all the time. Should we sin more in order to get more grace? Obviously not. But he uses the following argument.
By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Here is a truth – in Christ we’ve died to sin. In the waters of baptism we’ve identified ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. So, we shouldn’t want to live according to our old life. But by the very question he asks, he implies that it’s possible to live in sin even though we died to it. How can we get the victory over this sin?
It all starts with our water baptism. This is where we identify with Christ. This is where we begin the process of removing the old man. Peter agrees with Paul’s assessment.
…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:21
The word pledge in the above verse means the asking, desire or demand. When we allow ourselves to be baptized in water, we are placing a demand on God for a good conscience. Because we desire to live rightly before Him, we take this step. It’s how we start down the road to remove the old sin nature.
That’s also how Romans chapter 6 starts. The first 10 verses describe our identification with Christ through water baptism. Then, in verse 11, Paul brings out the next step in the process.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The words in the same way let us know that this is a new truth. You were baptized, and by faith identified with the death of Christ. In the same way that you trusted God for this, now go on to the next step of faith. I’ll talk about that step in my next post.
Questions: How was your faith released during your water baptism? Were you baptized in water?
© Nick Zaccardi 2015