Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 47 : Baptize My Disciples | Day 324

Know the Purpose of Baptism!

The death rate following surgeries was extraordinarily high. The applicable phrase could well have been: "The operation was a success, but the patient died." At the time, patients usually died of infection rather than because of the surgery itself.

Then one man began to share his "revolutionary ideas" with the medical community. He urged surgeons simply to wash their hands before an operation and to use sterilized instruments. At first, fellow surgeons mocked and ridiculed Joseph Lister. They did not understand how cleanliness could have a direct effect on the success of their operations. However, as Dr. Lister began to have greater success in the surgeries he performed, others eventually began to adopt his techniques, and the post-surgery mortality rate was greatly reduced.

The need to cleanse the body of physical impurities should emphasize the vital importance of spiritual cleansing and separation from sin, which should characterize our lives after baptism.

Baptism does not cleanse us from sin. Rather, it is symbolic of our vicarious death, burial, and resurrection with Christ and should remind us of the holiness and newness of life to which we are called.

In Romans 6, Paul exclaims: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4).

Paul continues the analogy of baptism to give great hope of victorious Christian living: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:5).

Just as Christ died once, in the life of a believer, baptism occurs once. However, the newness of life that baptism symbolizes requires a continual death to sin and living to God. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:11-12).

Baptism does not guarantee victorious Christian living. The power of God's grace is required for daily victory.

It is the grace of God that brings salvation, “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:12). This is possible only as we acknowledge our total weakness and surrender ourselves to the reign of God's grace in our lives. That grace will give us the desire and the power to overcome sin. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).

If we have been striving to live the Christian life in our own strength, and failing, let's remember what baptism represents and acknowledge our total weakness as we yield the members of our bodies to God as "servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:19).

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard