Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Are You Living the New Life?

by Mark Larson

Being a Christian is supposed to be about living a new life, a better life, even the best life there is. Yet, some brethren have unwittingly returned to the old one! How can this be? Just like the Christians at Rome in the first century, there are many today that have forgotten the kind of life they were meant to live after their baptism. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4, NASB).

“Do you not know”? The brethren at Rome should have known, but evidently they had forgotten and needed a strong reminder. The fact is every Christian needs to be reminded of the great spiritual significance of their baptism. Baptism means so much more than having our sins forgiven (Acts 2:38; 22:16), it is also the beginning of something very special and wonderful - a new life in Christ! Every person would do well to review their baptism, examine their life, and then ask the question: Am I living the new life?

The New Life” Begins at Baptism!

There is most definitely a spiritual connection to Christ at baptism (Rom. 6:4). No Christian should ever forget just how special their baptism was. Baptism is a real spiritual connection to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ! (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12) Just as a real burial involves a real death, so does baptism (which is also a burial or an immersion in water; BAPTIZO = immersion), result in a real death to sin. And just as a genuine resurrection results in an actual resurrected life, so does the spiritual resurrection out of the “watery grave” of baptism result in a real new life!

The teaching of Romans 6 demonstrates that baptism is a serious act for people who can and will take it seriously. Baptism is not for infants or small children or for people who treat baptism as a mere ritual or just a way to show the church that they are already saved (which is a falsehood). Baptism is for penitent believers only (Acts 2:38; 8:36-38).The person who chooses to be baptized has decided to repent of his sins (or crucify the “old man”) and, as a person “dead in sin,” be buried with Jesus through baptism. Clearly, Romans 6 shows that baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, baptism is for people who understand that this is the only way to enter into a union with Christ and receive the blessings found in Him. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27; cf. Eph. 1:3).

Again, baptism is not just about being saved (1 Pet. 3:21), but about the start of a “new life”! Our baptism into Christ is not an event merely to be affectionately remembered for our salvation, but an event that is meant to alter our future for life! It is God’s desire that once we are raised from our baptism, we would live a new life in service to Him.

“The New Life” Means a Changed Life!

A Discontinuation of Sin: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1-2) Baptism into His death is a death to sin. Thus, the new life is not about practicing sin. Grace in Christ is not a “license to sin” (Jude 4), but a powerful source of motivation to live a new and better life for the Lord! (Titus 2:11-12). To continue to practice sin would be a sharp contradiction to our “death to sin” that took place at our baptism.

Following the Footsteps of Jesus: “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:5). We who have been raised with Christ (after being baptized) are to imitate His resurrected life in the life we now live. It makes no sense to take part in Christ’s death and then live life in the same way. We are to live a new life that will reflect His (1 Pet. 2:21).

Freedom from the Slavery of Sin: “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:6-7). Jesus, by offering His blood for our forgiveness, gives us freedom from the bondage of sin (Jn. 8:31-36; Eph. 1:7). This freedom calls us to live a new life not as slaves of sin, but of righteousness (Rom 6:17-18).

How Have You Changed Since You Began the New Life?

What is the Difference between Your Former Life and the New Life You Now Live? (Eph. 4:21-24) Are you the same person you were before? Have you changed? Are you still changing and for the better? What do you see when you look into the “mirror” of God’s word? (Jas. 1:22-25). Do you see Christ in you? (2 Cor. 13:5). Each Christian is either growing in Christ or he is digressing and getting weaker spiritually. There is no middle ground! (2 Pet. 1:8-9).

What “New Things” Have Come into Your Life? “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). “The new life” involves real spiritual change in every person who lives the life of a Christian. By faith we believe that old things have indeed passed away! With the help of Christ, the sins, bad habits, selfishness, affection for sin, etc. can all be put behind us.

Many new things should come for the Christian: A new way of thinking (Rom. 12:2); New values and priorities (Mat. 6:19-21, 33); A new purpose in life (Eph. 2:10; Eccl. 12:13); A new lifestyle (1 Cor. 6:9-11); A new perspective on marriage and family (Mat. 19:1-12; Eph. 5:22-33; 6:4); New friends (2 Cor. 6:14; 1 Cor. 15:33); And a new heavenly goal (Col. 3:1-4). The new life we have been given is meant to change our whole perspective in which we recognize that this world is not our home (Heb. 11:13-16), that we are just passing through as we journey on toward Heaven to be with God.

Have You Yet to Begin the New Life?

Remember, baptism into Christ is necessary “in order that” we may live a new life (Rom. 6:4). Without exception, no one can begin the new life in Christ until he has been baptized into Christ as a penitent believer. Begin your new life and be baptized today!

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