What a joy it was to see several people baptised following a recent church run alpha course! Getting baptised is a wonderful overt sign of the powerful spiritual change that has occurred in the believer. We see in Romans 6 that this inward spiritual change is a spiritual baptism to Jesus (v3). What does this mean? First of all that word baptism is derived from the greek word “Baptizo” which means to immerse. Somehow believers have been immersed into Jesus. Think about this – a sheet of paper immersed in water, it’s consequently completely soaked to dripping wet. That’s an imperfect analogy of our immersion into Jesus. Scripture tells us that we can think of this immersion as being joined to Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:17), becoming one with Jesus (John 17:20-23), being united to Jesus (Romans 6:5).
Here in Romans 6 Paul points out 2 things with respect to a believer’s immersion to Jesus:
1. Every believer spiritually died to sin upon believing – Through faith in Christ’s grace we have been immersed/joined/united/made one with Christ’s death on the cross. As a believer you are dead to sin! And as Paul expresses, If anyone is dead they cannot be controlled or influenced by sinful impulses/cravings. That would be weird and absurd right? Like witnessing a zombie steal a car. That’s (perhaps shockingly) the absurdity of sin in a believer’s life! Unfortunately, we can all too easily be desensitised to sin and even excuse sinning for any number of reasons.
You are no longer a slave to sin, and Paul encourages that to make this truth effective in your life, you must reckon yourself as dead to sin because of your immersion with Jesus. Paul is aware (as we should be) that becoming a Christian and being joined to Jesus doesn’t microwave us into the perfect example of Jesus. Instead the spiritual reality of ourselves being dead to sin has to be allowed to break out through our intentional choosing to resist and shun sinful temptations. This comes from a strong awareness of the good news that believers are immersed into Jesus and are therefore dead to sin and it’s control.
2. Every believer is given new life in Christ upon believing – We weren’t just baptised into Christ’s death alone. Paul states that “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (v4, italics added). We basically have new spiritual life in Christ when we believe. In John 3 Jesus calls this being “born again”, we are born again spiritually into the kingdom of God with a brand new spirit that joins us to God. How amazing is that? What does this look like? Paul tells us that this new life is expressed through righteous living (v15 – v19). Paul states that we’ve passed from being “slaves to sin” to being “slaves to righteousness” (v18) through this new life we have in Christ. This life pulls and draws us to doing what is right in God’s sight (righteousness). Therefore making our lifestyle resemble our new spirit.
Let us joyfully hold onto these gospel realities achieved by Christ for us. We should also look forward to helping new Christians (or those who have been round the block a few times) to get a deeper hold of these truths as we share about them through our words and our life. And why not invite a friend, work colleague or family member to take part in a zoom Alpha course should they want to find out more about the Christian faith from the comfort of their home.