If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
– Colossians 3:1–17
Just how big a deal is baptism anyhow?
In some Christian traditions, baptism occurs as an outward sign of an inward confession. In those traditions it is viewed as little more than you showing your commitment to God. But is that what the Bible teaches?
In the book of Colossians, baptism is the hinge on which everything swings. In chapter 1 Paul glories in Jesus, who He is, and what He did for us on the cross. In chapter 2:11-14 Paul declares that in Baptism we receive the saving work of Jesus and we die and rise with Him!
Then in chapter 3 Paul goes on to describe how baptism now impacts the daily life of the believer. Chapter 3 can be rightly viewed as living out the new reality of who you are as one who has been baptized into Christ.
It begins, “If then, you have been raised with Christ…” Well, have you been raised with Christ? If you are baptized, then the answer is absolutely, yes! This was made clear in 2:11-14 and is reinforced in verse 3 where it says, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
So then, since you’ve been raised with Christ, what happens next? What are we to do next? In Chapter 3 Paul tells us.
- Seek the things that are above (v. 1)
- Set your minds on things that are above (v. 2)
- Put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, covetousness (which is idolatry)
- Put away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk
- Do not lie
- Put on as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience
- Bear with one another and readily forgive
- Put on love
- Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you
- Teach and admonish
- Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
- Do everything in the name of Jesus
- Give thanks to God!
But how do we “put to death” and “put away” those sinful things and “put on” those godly thing?
In Luther’s Small catechism, we find the answer and the answer is that we return to our baptism by confession.
What does such baptizing with water indicate?
It 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.
Each and every day we go back to our baptism, confess our sins and we’re washed once more. In this way we put off the old sinful self and we put on the righteousness of Christ! Then we set out to live in Christ’s righteousness.
When we fail, when we once again stain our new garments of righteousness with sin, we can again return to our baptism, to Christ and His saving work, be washed, covered with Christ’s righteousness, and set out to live once again for Him.
So, how big of a deal is baptism really? It’s HUGE!
Our Father, what a beautiful and powerful gift you have given us in Baptism. We thank you that in baptism we are united with Jesus and His saving work. Help us to faithfully live out our new identity as the baptized, by daily returning to our baptism by confessing our sins so that we can go about our day with the righteousness of Christ covering us. Help us never to take for granted the great gift that You have given us in baptism! In Jesus name. Amen.
Questions for Conversation
- When was the last time you thought about your baptism?
- If baptism is such a great treasure, why do you think it can be so easy to take it for granted?
- Do you remember your baptism? If you don’t, does that impact what happened when you were baptized?