Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas came with a great multitude and betrayed Jesus. Jesus was taken to the High Priest’s house where all the Sanhedrin council sought testimony against Him; their unanimous verdict was that He should be put to death. He was then taken to the Roman authority, Pontius Pilate, and accused of treason against Rome. When Pilate discovered that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent Him to Herod Antipas. Herod questioned Him and his soldiers mocked Him. Jesus returned to Pilate who submitted to the pressure of the Jews and condemned Jesus to death. The soldiers beat and scourged Jesus and then led Him to Mount Calvary. There He was nailed to a cross. After being on the cross for six hours or more, He yielded up His spirit and died. Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and requested the body of Jesus. He placed His body in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock. On the first day of the week, Jesus arose from the dead and was seen by His disciples. This sequence of events is fundamental in our belief of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Just as Jesus died, each of us as Christians must have gone through a death – a death to sin. Romans 6:1-4 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” The act of baptism, where a believer is submerged in water and then raised out of the water, symbolizes a death, burial, and a resurrection. Each baptized person is baptized into Christ Jesus and baptized into His death. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we who have died to sin should also walk in newness of life.
Our death in baptism is like Christ’s death. Romans 6:5-11 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” For us as Christians, the “old man” was crucified with Christ; the body of sin was done away with; we should no longer be slaves of sin. We are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The purpose of baptism should be clear from these passages in the book of Romans. Peter explains in 1 Peter 3:21 that baptism is not the removal of the filth of the flesh; I understand this to mean that baptism does not remove filth such as dirt or sweat. Instead, it is the answer of a good conscience toward God; I understand this to mean that the one who is baptized is sincere in choosing to die to sin and to begin walking in newness of life. But some people are baptized for other reasons. Some people are baptized because it is the expected action to be accepted into the group. Some are baptized to please a family member. These people may have little desire to die to sin and walk in newness of life.
This death to sin is critical for each sincere Christian. Colossians 3:3 “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” The apostle Paul testified about himself in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Since we are human, we all sin after baptism. 1 John 1:8-9 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We need to humbly confess our sins to God. We also need to remind ourselves that we died to sin. Romans 6:11 “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Continuing in sin is not consistent with our death to sin. We should remind ourselves of our death to sin and pray for God’s strength in overcoming sin.
There is a put off and a put on in our lives. Colossians 3:5-11 “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” We put to death the works of the flesh and put on the new man.
I encourage you to reckon yourself to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus your Lord.