The 6th Sunday after Trinity—19 July 2020
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sermon:“What Does Baptism Have to Do with Your Daily Life?”
The Reading from Holy Scripture: Romans 6:1–11
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to
God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
In Holy Baptism, God has made us His dearly beloved children, and even now we are saints of God. But inside each one of us still dwells the Old Adam. The Old Adam is a rebel, an enemy of God, a child of the devil, totally sinful and corrupt, completely self-centered, and a hater of God and of all that is truly good. The Old Adam loves to sin and despises God’s Word. Until the day we die, we will have to struggle against the Old Adam and his desire to walk in the flesh rather than the Spirit.
The Old Adam is always wanting you to follow his twisted logic rather than the truth of God’s Word. Concerning your sins, here is what the Old Adam would have you think: “God’s grace is that He died for our sins. So if we sin more, God will forgive us more. The more we sin, the more grace God has to give, so let’s all sin some more!” That is what happens when the Old Adam fools around with the forgiveness of sins. But in response to the Old Adam’s twisted logic, St. Paul says, “No way! No how!” Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
We are sinners, and just our being by nature sinful and unclean is enough to damn us to hell. And on top of our being sinners, we also commit sinful acts. We sin daily in thought, word, and deed; we sin in the evil that we do and in the good that we fail to do. Thanks be to God, though, that we have also received the Gospel, the Good News, of forgiveness in Christ. We live in the Gospel of God’s pure grace, His undeserved favour apart from human works. And yet, we are often tempted to listen to the Old Adam’s twisted logic that grace means that we are free to go on sinning. Grace never means that! Grace does not give you the freedom to sin; rather, grace sets you free from sin.
You receive God’s grace—God’s undeserved favour— as a pure, unmerited gift, through your being baptized into Christ. Baptism is not something you do, but something God does to you, to save you. Do not, then, abuse your baptism. Do not think that your baptism gives you the freedom to go on sinning. Do not become complacent about your sins. Do not think to yourself: “well, I am a sinner, so I may as well do what comes naturally to me”. You are not to think lightly of your sins just because you are baptized into Christ. Rather, being baptized into Christ, you are involved in a daily struggle against sin. So often you experience defeat as you give into temptation. But as you cling to your baptism, you actually are victorious in Christ. Yes, as you live each day in your baptism, the Old Adam in you by daily repentance is drowned and dies with all sins and evil desires, and a New Man daily emerges and arises to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
The key to this victory is Christ’s death and resurrection. In Baptism, Christ’s death and resurrection become YOUR death and resurrection. In Baptism, your Old Adam gets the wrath of God and the nails of the cross to put him down. In Baptism, Jesus bursting from the tomb is your New Man’s victory over sin and death and the promise of life everlasting.
In Baptism, you died with Jesus. His death became your death. And you were raised with Christ. His resurrection became your resurrection. On the day of your baptism, at that moment of water and the word splashing on you, every good thing that Christ accomplished by His life, death and resurrection was bestowed upon you as God’s free and saving gift!
All that we receive in Baptism is given to us for newness of life. This means that we do not have to live in the old ways. No more accusations of the Devil troubling our conscience. No more thinking that we are free to sin because God will forgive us anyway. No more trying to figure out what you need to do to earn God’s forgiveness and get to heaven. No more being defeated by sin. Oh, the devil still tempts you and you still daily sin, but the devil cannot prevent you from turning from your sins in true repentance. For your being baptized into Christ means you are filled with the Holy Spirit, who is ever calling you to confess your sins and trust God to forgive you. And so your sins, though they be a great multitude, cannot defeat you, a penitent sinner. Finally, no more living under the delusion that everything is about you. Now, in newness of life, you live free in Christ, free to trust God and to love your neighbour.
Holy Baptism means you are a new person. It does not mean that you will change overnight or get rid of all your bad habits or even stop sinning. Rather, your being baptized into Christ means that when your heavenly Father sees you, He does not see the Old Adam, your sinful nature. He sees Christ in you and He sees you covered with Christ. He sees the new creation, which is sealed for heaven by the blood of Jesus’ new testament. As our Lord says in Revelation, Behold I make all things new! And in Holy Baptism that means you, too!
In Baptism, the Name of the Holy Triune God has been placed upon you and your life is now hidden in and connected to Christ your Saviour. Baptism gives great benefits— it works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation. But for all that it gives and works, Baptism does NOT put a permanent end to the Old Adam. Rather, Baptism makes you into a new person, a new man. The New Man is the faithful believer in you. The New Man is the creation of the Holy Spirit and a lover of God and of all that is good. As St. Paul writes: if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). You have been united with Christ by the washing of rebirth, which results in new, Spirit-created attitudes, desires, and actions.
In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther asks the question: What does such baptizing with water indicate?. That’s another way of asking, “what does Baptism have to do with my life, my daily life in this world?”. And Luther gives this answer: [Baptism ] indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Baptism is your incorporation into the death of Jesus Christ. Yes, to be baptized is to be put to death. Do you not know, says the apostle, that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?.
Now, the death Jesus died, He died for sin. Yours is not a death for sin but a death to sin. This means death to the Old Adam. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. The Old Adam does not sink like a heavy anchor into the sea. He is a swimmer and a muscular one at that. Always poking his head up, gasping for yet another breath of lethal life. His is never an easy death! The Old Adam never passes away quietly or peacefully.
This means you never outgrow the need for repentance. The repentance that brings you back to your baptism is a daily death. Death is the rhythm of the Christian’s life all the way through to the resurrection of the body. Only when your body has died will you be through with death. Then there will be no more Old Adam, only a new man who will live with God and without sin in righteousness and purity forever. But now in this life, the old man remains, and there is no way for him to coexist peacefully with the New Man. You cannot domesticate Old Adam. He can only suffer death, death that comes by contrition and repentance as you put your Adam to God’s work of breaking and hindering every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and, yes, especially your own sinful nature, which does not want you to hallow God’s name or let his kingdom come.
In Lutheran churches, you often hear pastors say: “Remember your Baptism.” But the admonition to remember your Baptism is not an invitation to recollect in your mind a picture of an idyllic gathering of family and friends around a font. Rather, the admonition to remember your Baptism is a battle cry to count yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. It is a call to repent and believe the good news that the life you now live you live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself up for you. And so, when I tell you to remember your Baptism this morning and every day of your life, I am calling you to keep crawling back to your Baptism through true repentance and—thus living in your baptism—to call upon the Name of the Lord, trusting in the promise that you will be saved.
The Lord who makes the promise is faithful and true. Listen to it one more time: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Amen.