Baptism reminds us who we belong to in order that we would not listen to the lies of the enemy.
We often forget that people of Bible or church history were not monuments of stone or marble but were real people of flesh and blood, just like us. Noah? – After the ark, goes out, gets drunk on wine (Gen. 9) David? – Old/advanced in years, couldn’t get warm; put a beautiful young woman Abishag in bed with him, he didn’t put any moves on her, so they knew he was dying (1Kings 1) Peter? – Turns from perfect recognition of identity of Jesus ever to being called “Satan” (Mt 16) Martin Luther? – A life full of father issues/seeking approval of male role models/ a life full of anxiety and depression! At the Diet of Worms, Luther was famous for his “Here I stand bound by Scripture” – but in reality full of anxiety, worry, had trouble defining what he believed. Now I can’t tell you how Noah, David, and Peter recovered from their famous fumbles, BUT I can tell you a bit about our friend Martin Luther.
After the Diet of Worms, Luther was hiding out in the Castle at Wartburg. Isolated from Wittenberg University and was translating the NT from Greek into German. Whatever you think of yourself or what you’re processing in your life, Luther was just like us. Horrible time of doubt and discouragement; believed he was under demonic oppression. It was a time where Luther was heard to be shouting back at the devil, “I am baptized!” In other words, I am baptized, therefore I belong to Jesus and I am marked as belonging to Him.
Luther could have yelled a lot of things in his discouragement or at the demonic at work in him. Swearing and cursing obscenities at the devil: he could have attempted a Linda Blair self-exorcism in own authority or Luther could have gone to nonbelieving psychoanalyst who told him his God-troubles all self-invented.
What was he doing in choosing to yell “I am baptized”? Well, Luther was yelling at the devil (so to speak); Luther was yelling at HIMSELF, Luther was reminding himself of his true identity because he didn’t yell it in the past tense, “I was baptized” – Luther yelled it in the present tense, I AM baptized, it’s my true identity, I belong to Jesus NOW; therefore I am not going to give into the other identity in my head!
Who’s your other secret/true identity? Behind Clark Kent is Superman; behind Peter Parker is Spiderman; behind Bruce Wayne is Batman. Who are you behind the glasses/disguise? If we could hear your thoughts, what identity are you living and yelling at yourself? Stupid? Fatty? Idiot? Porn Addict? Loser? Lousy husband? Worst wife ever? Why not the ultimate truth of all (if applicable): I AM BAPTIZED, I BELONG TO CHRIST!
Let’s back up to our preaching passage, Romans 6. Romans 1-5 sets out the problem of the essence of idolatry; how God heals us of that bondage. Romans 6 asks the questions, what do we do when sin or our ‘bad self’ etc. keeps hassling us? So the questions rises up for the Roman believers, what is our self-worth or self-identity?
How do we understand who we really are in life when the past is shouting in our ears louder than present reality is whispering the truth of who we have become in Jesus? Do we continue to be addicted to the false idols of life just so God can keep on forgiving us? NO…… As Pastor Eugene Peterson translates the idea, if we’ve left the old nation where idolatry and sin still rules the country, why would you keep on going back there to live?……
Instead, our Christian identity, self-worth, Xian self-belief, self-image, the Xian script in our head, the voice in our brain or the Xian tape playing on a continuous loop in our head must be the pre-baptized version of me, ‘my-name 1.0‘ is baptized/drowned into the death of Jesus; in order that the post-baptized version of me, ‘my-name 2.0′, can walk in the newness of life.
What does the “newness of life” mean in baptism? It means that we now belong to Jesus instead of enslaved/in bondage to the idols of life. This does not mean that the idolatry of sin is not going to continue to whisper in our ear in order to try to entice us to come back and live in the old country, because it does, 24 hrs / 7 days wk. But because we belong to Christ in baptism, it means we pull out our identity card or driver’s license or passport and double check our address and say “Sorry, don’t live there anymore.”
I am baptized. I now live in Jesus. In fact, my forwarding address is called “newness of life, take that”
As believers, as Christians, as followers of Jesus this HAS or MUST be our new way of thinking. A great translation of Romans 6:11 is from the Voice – So here is how to picture yourself now that you have been [baptized] into Jesus the Anointed: you are dead to sin’s power and influence, but you are alive to God’s rule
THEN why are so many in Western churches entrapped in anxiety, worry, and depression? Trust me lots of very physical, bio-chemical important reasons, true true true But also as so many believers are looking at the idols of life for their identity rather than Jesus. As an example there is no such thing as perfect parent or perfect employee or perfect spouse or perfect anything. Our identity must be I am baptized, I belong to Jesus, He is my self-worth and self-identity. In fact, I have to STOP trying to be the perfect adult child or perfect anything. (The was only 1 perfect person ever, so that job’s taken already.) (look for a different job)
What’s Luther’s take on all of this? Small Catechism – “Baptism grants the forgiveness of sins; the redemption from death and the Satan; and eternal salvation to all who believe it” For this paradigm of life to work, therefore you must have faith and believe Jesus is on your side. You have to believe it, no one can believe it for you, nor is HE a mindless barcode on your neck. (just like wearing a cross necklace will drive off vampires or turn you into a little Jesus robot).
Every day, we need to wake up and remind ourselves, I belong to Jesus, I am baptized. Baptism is not a religious magic trick. It’s not a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. Rather as you mature, there has to be an acceptance or a confirming of what Jesus did in you at baptism and a trust in His life narrative rather than the lies of landlords in your old country.
Paul also uses the verbs in this sense from Romans 6:12 – Don’t invite that insufferable tyrant of sin back into your mortal body so you won’t become obedient to its destructive desires. What is Paul saying? Why does it sound so familiar? I am baptized! We need to pay more attention to who we are NOW as baptized and trust that reasoning and live it out BY FAITH, rather than inviting lies to live in our head defining who we really aren’t.
In response to the evils in life around me and in my neighborhood, I can believe all day long I am Bruce Wayne and Batman is hiding in me, but that’s not reality. It’s an escapist lie. I can practice a golf swing all week long and believe I’m Rickie Fowler/Sergio Garcia, but out on the golf course, I’m still stinky old me, that’s not reality. It’s an escapist lie. I can tell myself all day long I’m a citizen of Canada, but unless I emigrate there and process through becoming an official Canadian citizen, I’m still an American, eh? Escapist lie.+++++++
I can listen to the stories of the past, voices of parents/teachers/bullies/coaches/bad preachers and keep on living in the Matrix super-computer encoded dream world as an escapist lie
I can and must consider the old me has died and was buried in the waters of baptism in accordance with the Scriptures, then Jesus raised me up to be alive to God in the Messiah Jesus in order to live in His newness of life in me.