by Olu Talabi (based on RLCF Bible Study on December 9, 2015)
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?… Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:3-6)
As with every command of God, including those involving an external act, obedience is what God primarily seeks after and an inward reality that draws us nearer to Him. We see these in commands involving circumcision and the offering of sacrifices. In these and others, God desired something deeper than the external acts themselves; that is, the circumcision of the heart, obedience from the heart, etc. (see: Deuteronomy 10:16, Jeremiah 4:4, Jeremiah 7:21-23, Psalm 50:8-14).
Baptism is no different. It is more than an application of water to a man. According to the words of Paul in Romans 6, it is an inward realization of the death of our old man. Our allegiance changing from a life in sin to the application of ourselves to the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The question then remains: if our old man is crucified, why do many believers still ‘struggle’ and face defeat by sin in their daily experience?
The simple answer to this most pressing question is that while indeed our old man is crucified with Christ (an objective work done by our Lord as we relate to salvation through Him alone), there remains a subjective work of we putting to death the flesh which continues to war with the Spirit of the new man now dwelling in us. In other words, the flesh is not completely removed from our daily experience, yet, scriptures command that we must wrestle with, and daily put to death the flesh and its expressions in our lives. This will only be accomplished by first reckoning ourselves dead to sin (death of our old man)-Romans 6:11; putting off that old man and actively putting on the new man (Jesus Christ)- Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10; Romans 13:14; and daily walking in the Spirit of Christ by whom we prevail against the flesh -Galatians 5:16.
It is quite an amazing declaration to us in Scripture that we are dead to sin and it must not have power over us (Romans 6:7 and 14); almost unbelievable, yet, very true and possible in experience to the man who simply believes God’s Word rather than his feeble mind. We need look no further to the possibility of a life that is free from sin than to Jesus Christ who as a man like we are, and tempted in every way, sinned not. A man like us has prevailed over sin; we follow Him in every way into the same victory.
There is a choice we as believers must make daily. A choice either to still carry around our dead old man and yield to its instruments of the flesh, or to put off this old man and actively put on Jesus Christ every day and live by His Spirit (Romans 13:14). In Christ alone rests our victory over sin and the flesh. We will continue to be tempted while in our earthly bodies, but temptation is not sin. God allows these temptations to come our way that we, by the power of His Spirit, may prevail and grow stronger in Him (James 1:2-4; Ephesians 3:16). This, by the grace of God, must be our testimony after baptism.