AFTER BAPTISM, WHAT THEN?
This passage of scripture discusses the post-baptism period of a Christian's life. In order to enter the Christian religion we are met with the command of baptism, but after baptism, what then? That is Paul's subject in this passage. One question he puts to all Christians is, “After baptism shall we continue in sin? In answering that question the apostle says some things that are by no means easy to understand. Apparently, the Roman Christians did not understand the impact that baptism should have on their lives. After studying this passage, I am convinced that few Christians fully understand how baptism should affect their post-baptism life. It is only because we are highly intelligent creatures made in the image of God that we can comprehend what Paul says in this passage. As I listen to Paul, I feel like I am being addressed by a Psychologist who is making a psychological explanation of my life as a Christian. in the post-baptism period of my life.
The first truth we learn is that in the post-baptism period of life, Christians are dead. Colossians 3:3 says, “For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” 2 Timothy 2:11 says, ‘It is a faithful saying, for if we be dead with Christ we shall also live with Him.” Not only are Christians dead, but they are dead with Christ. That may be a faithful saying, but it is a strange and very bold saying that needs explanation. After baptism a new born Christian is dead. I don't know about you, but I feel very much alive. He cannot be talking about physical life, but Christians must be dead in some sense because the Bible says so.
Paul clears this matter up a little in verses 1,2: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not.” The Old King James version says, “God forbid.” Paul answers the question by saying “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” We learn here that we are not literally dead' we are only dead to sin. We don't die to life; we die only to sin nd evil. Christians are very much alive physically, but they are very much dead to a life of disobedience to God.. That may be another faithful saying but he did not explain it. Dead to sin? How shall we explain it? He shed more light on the subject in Romans 6:11, “Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin..” The word reckon means to consider by reasoning, to calculate, to imagine. This whole matter about being dead to sin is something that takes place in the mind. I am to convince myself by sound reasoning that I am dead to sin and evil and will abhor it for the rest of my life. Make up your mind that your are dead to the influences of sin and evil in your life. To be dead to sin is to hate it, separate yourself from it, and have nothing to do with it. A dead person cannot respond to anything or anyone around, and that is exactly what we should do, even though we are
not literally dead.. More importantly we should, not only consider ourselves dead to sin, but live and conduct our lives in such a way as to show that we are dead to sin.
If Christians are dead to sin when did their our death take p;lace?. Paul said, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” When did we die to sin? When did we become as same as a dead person to sin? One thing is certain; Christians died to sin before baptism. We die to sin by faith and repentance. Not by faith alone but by faith and repentance. Many people believe Jesus is God's divine Son and believe He died for the sins of the world, but they have never come to repentance. Strictly speaking we die to sin in repentance. We die to sin when we believe in Christ and repent of the sins of our past life. The true meaning of repentance is a determination to forsake sin, accompanied by the act. The scriptural definition of repentance is a change of the mind, brought on by godly sorrow for sin, which always leads to a change of life. The Bible says it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance(Romans 2:4). Afer repentance, in the obedient act of baptism, all sins of the past life are washed away and that person becomes a saint or a holy person. We die to sin by repentance, but we are not forgiven until baptism. God's message to the world is, “If you are willing to die to sin, I will forgive all sins of your past life in baptism.” God will forgive no person who will not make this change. After baptism, what then? The Christian is disinclined and unwilling to violate God's will, disinclined to do wrong or commit evil of any kind.
The second truth we learn from this passage is that after baptism, Christians are alive. You might say, “ I thought you just said that after baptism we are dead.” Paradoxically, after baptism, Christians are both dead and alive. Romans 6:11 says, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” We will respond to God and do as He says, but we will not respond to sinful desires. One who does that is both dead and alive. Instead of continuing in a life of sin and disobedience, you are now to be completely devoted to God. From now on, God's will is to be the rule of your life. We can no longer live a life of sin as we did before baptism. Morally, it is impossible. It is true that a Christian can fall back into the world and live a life of sin again, but it is unreasonable, illogical, immoral and unthinkable in view of the fact that a Christian voluntarily died to sin at the time of baptism. It is contrary to the conversion experience
Finally, what is this all about in plain language? Paul has been using metaphorical and psychological language. We are said to be dead, but alive, and alive but dead. When he said, “Reckon yourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God, Paul is psychological reasoning. Imagine or act like you are dead to sin but alive to God. Paul is using a well known ability that we humans have. When we make up our minds that we are going to do something, we can usually do it.. If the desire is great enough, when we set out minds to it, many times we can get the job done. A powerful mind-set has brought success to many a person. in the sport world, business world, the world of marriage, and it will do the same in living the Christian life.
This is what Paul is saying in this passage. He wants us to have a certain mind-set. Make up your mind that you are dead to sin, but alive to God. Act like it's true; believe it's true; reason it out in your mind that it's logical, right and true. Let this be your attitude for the rest of your life. He is trying to create an attitude that Christians should have and must have to stand up against the evil desires of the world. To be successful after baptism, this attitude is indispenable. The wise thinkers in the world tell us that the two most important things that contribute to success in the world, be it sports, business or what have you, is hard work and attitude. John Wooden, the famous coach of UCLA , id hard work and a good attitude are the most important contributors to success in basketball. Attitude is a manner of acting, feeling or thinking that shows one's beliefs, disposition, opinion etc.
Now what is the attitude that Christians should have after baptism? The supreme attitude is to live your life as if you were dead to sin and evil, and alive unto God. Can you reason that out in your mind and set your mind on that great truth and live it out in your life? Can you work it out in your mind that you are dead to sin? Repentance is a change of mind, and we changed our mind before we were baptized. Change your thoughts and everything changes. Our life is determined by the kind of thoughts we habitually think. We live out of our beliefs and thoughts. After baptism, if our thoughts do not change, we will go back to our old pattern of life when we were dead in sin instead of being dead to sin. Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
This passage calls on us to change our thoughts correctly, and this will change our life. Let me suggest a simple way to do all that Paul said in this passage. The attitude we Christians should have is always do that which is right, that which is good, and never do that which is wrong or evil.
What does the golden rule say , “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” That's the first rule for success in the Christian life. Do good and not evil. Always do that which is right and good. The second is, “Work hard at it.” It's hard work to be dead to sin. Peter said, “Add on your part all diligence , in your faith supply virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, love for Christians and love for all people” (2 Peter 2:5-8). He went on to say that if you do these things you will never fall, and an abundant entrance into heaven will be given you.
As a closng remark it should be understood that Paul is not teaching that we are so dead to sin that we can live a sinless life. The Bible clearly teaches that all Christians sin to some extent in their post-baptism life. What he is teaching is that in dying to sin, we can sufficiently keep sin out of our life so as to please God. For the most part we keep sin out of our life. We can keep sin in our life to a bare minimum. Sin can no longer dominate our life as it did before we were Christians. Romans 6:11,12 says, “Even so reckon you also yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Let no sin therefore reign in your mortal body...” Sin is here personified as a tyrant who rules over the body. Befor e we turned to Christ the sinful desires of the body controlled our lives. But when we became Christians we agreed henceforth to remove sin from u lives. We had a change of thought and that changed our lives. Christians my sin occasionally out of weakness, but they ask God for forgiveness, and He mercifully grants it. However, as the general rule of our life, we do not sin because we died to sin at conversion. If we die to sin and live to God, God will approves of us and accepts us, even if we do not live a perfect sinless life.