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Baptism – A Spiritual Work

Baptism – A Spiritual Work

As we continue our walk through Romans, we’re seeing how God deals with sin in our lives. In my last post, I started talking about baptism. It’s the first step in our freedom from sin and its affects.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:3-4

I ended my last post by saying that baptism is a spiritual work. Let me get into more detail.

This passage tells us that not only were we immersed into the death of Christ, but we were buried together with Him. Please understand, this isn’t just a mental identification with Christ.

The verse says that I WAS buried with Him. That has to have been a spiritual work. However, it gets better as we continue in the verse.

The phrase, just as, literally means exactly like. So, the glory that God used in raising Christ Jesus from the dead, was used in exactly the same way at my baptism.

The glory of the Father raised me up from death to enter a new life. I rise up with new life exactly like someone who has been raised from the dead.

This is key in understanding God’s work of salvation in us. It’s more than just reciting a prayer and receiving an initiation rite into church membership. We’re talking about a powerful spiritual work that’s being done in us.

Listen to how Paul describes it elsewhere.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Romans 8:11

In my last post I said that there was a spiritual work being done in our baptism that we needed to attach our faith to. Here it is.

I cannot see my baptism as a one-time occurrence. On the contrary, it was the beginning of an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in me.

By faith I can look back on my baptism and say, “Up until that day, I was living in death. Then, on the day of my baptism, I was raised from the dead. I now have the life of Christ in me by the power of His Holy Spirit.”

Understand what I’m saying. I was saved when I put my faith in Christ and prayed the sinner’s prayer. But, until the day of my baptism, I hadn’t yet placed a faith-demand upon God for victory over my sin nature.

The question is; did I know any of this when I was water baptized so many years ago? No, I didn’t. But I know it now and I can release my faith to receive the benefits of it. You can too.

If you haven’t been water baptized when you were old enough to accept it on your own, let me encourage you to seek it out. You won’t be sorry. Use it, not as a church tradition, but as a springboard to new life by faith.

Question: What was your life-changing experience in baptism?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2021 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Baptism and Faith

Baptism and Faith

In my last post, we looked at the sin package. Remember. It’s not just evil, but any departure from God’s best. Now we’ll see how we handle sin as we live in Christ.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-3

At the end of chapter 5, Paul wrote that when sin increases, grace increases even more. That could lead to a false conclusion. The apostle brings this argument to light.

If grace increases to cover my sin, then I can continue in sin to get more grace. That’s what some would get from this verse.

As a matter of fact, this is the fear that some have about preaching a message of grace. Some teachers think that if they talk too much about God’s grace then people will use it as a doormat. Play all day in the mud of worldliness and wipe your feet off on God’s grace.

Paul makes it clear, that’s not the purpose of grace. The goal is to live free from sin. Sin is part of the death package, and death is the enemy.

Paul gives us a great truth – in Christ we’ve died to sin. In the waters of baptism we’ve identified ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. So, we shouldn’t want to live according to our old life.

But, by the very question he asks, he implies that it’s possible to live in sin even though we died to it. How can we get the victory over this sin?

It all starts with our water baptism. This is where we identify with Christ. This is where we begin the process of removing the old man. Peter agrees with Paul’s assessment.

…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:21

The word pledge in the above verse means the asking, desire or demand. When we allow ourselves to be baptized in water, we’re placing a demand on God for a good conscience.

Because we desire to live rightly before Him, we take this step. It’s how we start down the road to remove the old sin nature.

It’s unfortunate, but there are many believers who look at baptism as purely a tradition of the church. They think that if you want to join the church, then you need to be baptized in water.

Paul explains it.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:3

The original Greek of this verse is very interesting. Paul says that all of us who were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into His death. That sounds like a spiritual work to me. As we continue through this chapter, we’ll see that baptism is a spiritual work of God that we need to attach our faith to.

Question: Were you baptized in water? How was your faith released during your water baptism?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2021 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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A Surgical Strike against the Flesh

I’ve been posting about our spiritual war with our old sin-nature. In my last post, I said that water baptism was the first step in this process. Through it, we identified with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Here Paul tells us that in the same way we trusted Christ in baptism, we must count or literally inventory ourselves dead, indeed, to sin.

This goes right along with our baptism. In verse 3 of Romans chapter 6, we were baptized into His death. Now in verse 11, there’s something that Paul is hoping you’ll move into by faith. Paul describes this step to the Colossian church.

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Colossians 2:11-12

This is what we want to concentrate on – the putting off of the sinful nature. According to Paul, this is a surgical procedure that can only be done by Christ.  So, in terms of warfare, you could call this a surgical strike against the flesh.

It isn’t a work I can perform on my own. It doesn’t matter how much will-power I put forth. Only Christ, Himself, can bring it to pass in my life. I must submit under the blade of the divine Surgeon.

There are two prerequisites to this surgery. The first is baptism and the second is faith in the power of God. This means that I can’t look to myself and how well I can obey God. It’s all about how much I trust His power working in my life. How much am I willing to surrender to Him?

It’s the same as in the natural world. If I don’t trust the surgeon in a medical procedure, then I will not allow them to put me under the anesthesia.   I’ll only let someone I trust have that much power over my body. Do we trust Christ enough to consent to His life-changing work in us?

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Romans 2:29

There’s another key point to this work of Christ in us. It can only be done in the spirit. It’s not something that I can physically accomplish. Neither is it a choice that I make in my mind.

The change is required in my heart. The old self has to be removed. How can my sin-nature remove itself? It would never willingly choose to do that.

To get the old sin nature out of our heart requires outside assistance. That’s why it’s a work that only Christ can do, and it must be a spiritual work.  It’s for this reason that an understanding of the Word of God as a sword is so important.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

The sword of the spirit is the scalpel that performs the work in our hearts. In the past, I’ve emphasized that the things of the spirit can only be received through prayer in the spirit. This is the work that needs to be done in us. It’s a work that must be done in the spirit. It’s only prayer in the spirit that will accomplish the change that’s necessary in our hearts.

In order for God to do this work in us, we must yield ourselves to Him. As in any surgery, we must willingly go under the knife if our healing is to take place. This is true for our spiritual surgery as well.

Question: How has Prayer in the Spirit changed your life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Baptism and Our Old Self

FlyingIn my last post I started talking about how other generations of believers experienced the transforming power of God. I said that we needed to be retaught what they had learned. I quoted a verse from Ephesians.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

According to Paul, the first thing we should be taught is how to put off the old self. This is talking about our flesh – the dwelling place of our evil desires. It’s the gift given to us by our ancestor, Adam.

According to James, this is where all of our temptation comes from.

…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
James 1:14

Contrary to what we see in the cartoons, it’s not the devil sitting on our shoulder that tempts us. It’s our own flesh that sees something it wants, and tries to get our soul to agree with it. The desires of our flesh – that’s where the battle starts.

Paul wrote a lot about this subject. It’s from his writings that we can learn how to overcome the flesh. It’s in Romans, chapter 6, that he begins dealing with the subject of sin. He tells us that it’s the grace of God that covers our sin.

Paul goes on to ask a question that may sound a little foolish, but it’s one we deal with all the time. Should we sin more in order to get more grace? Obviously not. But he uses the following argument.

By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:2-3

Here is a truth – in Christ we’ve died to sin. In the waters of baptism we’ve identified ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. So, we shouldn’t want to live according to our old life. But by the very question he asks, he implies that it’s possible to live in sin even though we died to it. How can we get the victory over this sin?

It all starts with our water baptism. This is where we identify with Christ. This is where we begin the process of removing the old man. Peter agrees with Paul’s assessment.

…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:21

The word pledge in the above verse means the asking, desire or demand. When we allow ourselves to be baptized in water, we are placing a demand on God for a good conscience. Because we desire to live rightly before Him, we take this step. It’s how we start down the road to remove the old sin nature.

That’s also how Romans chapter 6 starts. The first 10 verses describe our identification with Christ through water baptism. Then, in verse 11, Paul brings out the next step in the process.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

The words in the same way let us know that this is a new truth. You were baptized, and by faith identified with the death of Christ. In the same way that you trusted God for this, now go on to the next step of faith. I’ll talk about that step in my next post.

Questions: How was your faith released during your water baptism? Were you baptized in water?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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