What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:1-11 (NRSV)
The apostle Paul had a difficult audience in the Romans. Roman culture and religion glorified consumption, violence, excess and certain forms of immoral behavior. So Paul had his work cut out for him explaining to the Romans why it is necessary for us to die to our old sinful selves so that we can be free to live with Christ.
Our culture today is very similar to the Romans’. We watch the news and all we seem to hear is death, destruction and debauchery. Violence and sex sell. Evil is very prevalent in the world as we see all around us, but Baptism is God’s promise to us that His life isn’t what the media portrays. There is more to life than the Jerry Springer show and the sad dramas we see played out in the tabloids- and in our neighborhoods. God-life is a far better way for us to live. It is the life God designed for us.
In Baptism we die to the “old Adam.” Our sins are crucified on the Cross with Jesus, and we are set free to live God’s way.
Therefore every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to practice all his life; for he has always enough to do to believe firmly what it promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, the entire Christ, and the Holy Ghost with His gifts. In short, it is so transcendent that if timid nature could realize it, it might well doubt whether it could be true. For consider, if there were somewhere a physician who understood the art of saving men from dying, or, even though they died, of restoring them speedily to life, so that they would thereafter live forever, how the world would pour in money like snow and rain, so that because of the throng of the rich no one could find access! But here in Baptism there is brought free to every one’s door such a treasure and medicine as utterly destroys death and preserves all men alive.
Thus we must regard Baptism and make it profitable to ourselves, that when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and take comfort and say: Nevertheless I am baptized; but if I am baptized, it is promised me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body. For that is the reason why these two things are done in Baptism namely, that the body, which can apprehend nothing but the water, is sprinkled, and, in addition, the word is spoken for the soul to apprehend. Now, since both, the water and the Word, are one Baptism, therefore body and soul must be saved and live forever: the soul through the Word which it believes, but the body because it is united with the soul and also apprehends Baptism as it is able to apprehend it. We have, therefore, no greater jewel in body and soul, for by it we are made holy and are saved, which no other kind of life, no work upon earth, can attain.- from the explanation of Baptism, Luther’s Large Catechism
In Baptism we are given the most precious of God’s gifts- we are made His own. We are given the means to participate in the life we were created for, to live in response to the grace of God- not just after our bodies die, but here and now. We have the gift of abundant, meaningful life in Christ, because we are no longer prisoners to the old ways of sin and death.
How are we living the God-life today?