“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3)
“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 6:4)
In baptism, we testify to our Representative Union with Christ. We say that He died for our sins; He was buried so that the body of death was put away; and that He rose again because Death was swallowed up in Life (1 Corinthians 15:54). By our submission to the baptismal ordinance, we make the public profession of Faith that we are the beneficiaries of everything His Death, Burial, and Resurrection accomplished; but we also say that we had the experience of these things with Him. This profession of Faith therefore intimates our Realized Union with Christ.
In the previous devotion, we noted the question concerning those who profess a New Life in Christ, who yet live in worldliness and sin. Our text speaks to our being dead with Christ and risen together with Him. Several verses later, the Apostle Paul tells us to “reckon” it so; or to account ourselves as such (Romans 6:11). He says: Realize that you are dead to sin – therefore sin has no dominion over you, that you should obey it any longer. Grace has changed all of this, and we are now dead to the reigning power of sin.
It is evident that there are many who fill the church houses, having submitted to the ordinance of baptism, who have not in fact experienced a spiritual Union with Christ. They have not experienced spiritually His Death, Burial, and Resurrection. And so they lack the power to resist sin, because it is still their master. Thus is the refutation of those who teach baptismal regeneration. Without the inward working of God’s Spirit administering the effects of Christ’s Union, the baptismal fount is but a pool where sinners get wet.
So the Spirit-born Child of God must realize that he is dead to the dominion of sin. We also must realize that we are dead to the desire of sin. For the old nature, there is pleasure in sin. But its end result is death. The New Nature, the Christ Nature, constrains us to holy living. And these two natures are radically opposed to one another. Hence the conflict the saint experiences between his old nature and the New Nature: the former lusts toward sin, while the latter desires to be purged of anything repugnant to God’s Holiness (Romans 7:22-23).
If we do not experience this conflict between the Adamic nature and the Christ Nature, then we have not had the experience of God’s transformational Grace. It is not that we do not desire sin, but that this desire conflicts with the Christ-born desire to serve God. We are to realize that the New Man is dead to the dominion and desire of sin. The old man is dead; sin is no longer our master, and every desire to serve him is born of Death. As we realize our Union with Christ, we will cleave to the New Man and crucify the old man (Galatians 2:20).
Our Realized Union with Christ means we have a New Outlook on life. That is, those who’ve been Born-Again of the Spirit of God live unto God. The object of your life is to seek out the Glory of God in your New Life. While in the world, we have to carry on the ordinary affairs of life. But the Grace-given Life of Christ seeks those things which are above (Colossians 3:1). Therefore, we are guided – not by the flesh and selfish desires – but rather, our Guide is the Holy Spirit of Christ, Who will lead us into all Truth (John 16:13).
The example we have from early Christians stands in stark contrast to what we know today of Christian ‘morals.’ And sadly so. Any number of examples could be given here to contrast the attitudes of the two groups. And what does Scripture tell us? “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Have we not, in the 2,000 years since these words were penned by the Apostle, come to discern the “appearance of evil”? Then why do we not abstain from the same? Oh, dear friend, if there’s no conviction of sin, there can be no work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8).
Early Christians were not content to abstain from evil, but to even cringe from the appearance of such. Sin was a shame and reproach to them. So much in fact, that it was accounted shameful to even speak of others’ sin (Ephesians 5:11-12). The saint’s Life is the Life of Christ. Accordingly, the life we live in the flesh should be lived by Him as a commendation of Righteousness and a rebuke of sin. This is our avowal when we make the public profession of Faith in believer’s baptism.
Our Realized Union with Christ teaches us that we are dead to sin. But then comes our burial, when we descend into the watery grave. Burial, for all intents and purposes, places a seal on Death. It says: This man is dead.
There have been instances where men have been buried alive. And sadly, this often happens in baptism – someone gets buried without first dying to sin, and they rise from the grave just as they descended: dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), rather than alive in Christ. But if the burial be a genuine one, it is a certification of death.
Just as physical burial is a seal, or certificate, of Death – so also our burial with Christ certifies our death to the worldly life of sin. Our Realized Union with Christ means that we must experience the effects of death in our daily life, or our baptism into Christ’s Death is of no validity. Believer’s baptism is the open confession before all men that you are now dead to the world; the ordinance being a sort of funeral rite, where the body of Death is displayed as such, being buried out of sight, never to be seen again.
The irrevocable nature of Death being depicted by the baptismal ordinance ought to be given due consideration. The saint has to realize that he has experienced a death and burial with Christ. There is no life in the old life; the old self is dead. We have now been given a New Life, which we testify to when we ascend from the baptismal pool. Our Realized Union with Christ means that we can never go back to the old life; neither can we abide in the tombs, wandering as a ghost among the dead. We are a New Creature, with a New Life that is Eternal in Nature; it is the Life of Christ (1 John 5:20).