The apostle Paul wrote quite a bit about baptism in his letters, but his letters weren’t written to non-Christians needing to be persuaded to be baptized. His letters were written to Christians, people who had already been baptized. So why would Paul teach already baptized people about baptism? He was admonishing them to live out their baptisms, or the implications of their baptism, in their daily life. What does that mean and how do we “live out” our baptism? Here are a few thoughts to consider.
1. Abstain from Sin
Paul taught that Christians were “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:15). Because of this, his opponents slanderously accused him of teaching that Christians could “do evil that good may come” (Romans 3:8). These opponents seemed to reason that if the Law was removed and people were justified by faith in Christ, then Christians would “continue in sin” (Romans 6:1). But Paul essentially said, “No they won’t! Not if they understand and live out their baptism.”
When we are baptized, we are not only saying we want to be forgiven of our sins, we are also saying we don’t want to be sin’s slaves anymore. We are saying we are absolutely done living to please the flesh and from now on we are going to live to please Jesus. We are killing and burying our sinful selves and being raised up to live a life of obedience to Jesus (not because of Law but because of His grace).
Anytime we fall again into temptation and sin, we need to remind ourselves of our baptism. We need to say to ourselves, “Why are you obeying sin? That life is dead and buried! You’re not that person anymore!”
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14).
If a person goes “on sinning deliberately” (Hebrews 10:26), he is not living as a baptized person. That person can expect to be judged by God because he has “profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). We are forgiven people so long as we live out our baptism, doing our best to abstain from sin (see 1 John 1-2).
2. Love Like Family
The whole Bible is about the fact that God graciously chose to bless the descendants of Abraham and make them His special people. He established His first covenant with them. The death of Jesus fulfilled that first covenant and established a second covenant (see Hebrews 8-9). Paul argued that under the new covenant, it is not possible to become a descendant of Abraham by simply being born into that physical family. Under the new covenant, you become a descendant of Abraham – part of the chosen people of God – by faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul says in Galatians 3 that when men, women, slaves, free people, Jews, and Gentiles are baptized, they become, “Abraham’s offspring” (Galatians 3:29). In other words, by putting Christ on in baptism, we become God’s chosen people through faith. The story of Abraham’s family becomes our family story and we become “heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29).
Therefore, everyone who is in Christ is our family and when we love each other like family, we are living out our baptism. The apostle John wrote, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers” (1 John 3:14a). Loving our Christian family is living out our baptism. But that also means, “Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14b-15).
Being baptized is about passing from death into life. And when you love the Christian family, you prove you have actually “passed out of death into life.” But when, on the other hand, you refuse to generously share “the world’s goods” with your brother in need, you prove you are still in death and the love of God does not abide in you (1 John 3:17).
3. Serve the Church
Paul also taught that we are “all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). He compared the church to a body, with various body parts – each member empowered to do a specific job. Paul explained that all the parts have to work together, using their unique gifts, “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
When there is “no division in the body” and all the members “care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25), then we are living out our baptism. But when each body part looks out for itself and show no concern for the other parts of the body (as the Corinthians were doing), then we are not living as people who have been “baptized into one body.” We are living as unbaptized people.
Living out your baptism means using whatever gifts God has given you to selflessly serve the rest of the body; which “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Living out your baptism means doing “nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Living out your baptism means considering “how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
If you have been buried with Christ in baptism (Colossians 2:12), then live out your baptism today and every day. Live as someone who has been crucified with Christ. Live as someone who is dead to selfishness, ambition, and conceit. Live for the good of others and the glory of God. That’s how you live out your baptism.
I love you and God loves you,