As we continue our study through Ephesians, I want to finish up talking about Paul’s teaching on the process of spiritual growth. We touched on putting off the old man and renewing the mind. In my last post I started talking about the new man that God created us to be.
…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:24 NIV
We saw that it’s something that we must choose to do. But it’s a path that few believers seem to want to take. I think it’s because of the ramifications of the action.
It’s a total transformation of our lifestyle. It will radically change what we do and how we look to the world. Paul puts it this way…
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:14 NIV
The new man is Christ, Himself. He’s the One we’re to put on. It’s His nature and character that will be seen manifesting in us. This means that we want Christ to be the only thing that the world sees in us.
Therein lies the problem. Is this true of the church in general? Is it what the average church member wants?
It doesn’t seem to be the case in practice. A look at how the church lives out its faith today proves my point that putting on Christ doesn’t just happen because we receive Christ as our Savior. There’s more to it.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Galatians 3:26-27 NIV
If you’ve placed your faith in Christ Jesus, then you’re a part of the family of God. In this series of posts, I’m not talking about whether you’re saved or not. If you’ve trusted Christ, then you’re saved and going to Heaven. That’s beyond question.
What I am talking about, is the outward manifestation of that salvation. I want the world to see Christ in us. In the book of Acts we’re told that the Jewish religious leaders took note that the Apostles had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). They saw the same lifestyle and ministry that Jesus had when He walked the earth.
Look closely at what Paul says in the above verse. He starts with the group of all believers, those with faith in Christ. Then he moves on to a smaller group. He talks about those who were baptized into Christ. This group, according to Paul, has clothed themselves with Christ.
We already know from previous verses that this doesn’t happen by accident. So, we have to ask ourselves; what’s this baptism that Paul is referring to in this passage? The Bible talks about many baptisms. We can’t just assume that we know which is meant in this verse.
All of the people who I’ve heard preaching on this verse say that it refers to water baptism. Now that the Holy Spirit has had me study it deeper, I no longer see it that way. Whenever water baptism is mentioned, it says that the believer is baptized into the name of Christ. That’s a baptism into the family.
A baptism into Christ, Himself is a different thing. This baptism literally clothes you with Christ. The original Greek text of this verse reads, “For all of you who were immersed in Christ have sunk into Christ as into a garment.”
When I was young, there was an iced tea commercial on TV. A man came home from a long tiring day at work. His wife hands him a nice tall glass of iced tea. As he tips his head back to drink it, the camera pulls away for a wider shot. As he continues to drink, he falls straight backward into a swimming pool.
That’s the kind of thing that Paul is talking about here. We must let everything else go and fall backward (by faith) into Christ. We need to be immersed in Christ. This is what the modern church needs to attain to.
Question: How would the church look if we were truly immersed in Christ?
© 2023 Nick Zaccardi