II ROMANS 16
IF YOU ARE BORN AGAIN, YOUR NEW LIFE MUST BE DIFFERENT
Paul opens the 6th chapter of Romans by addressing a universal problem of the church through the ages. He says, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” The question is referring to lack of commitment on the part of too many who have performed the rituals and yet have made no change in their life. It is a problem that all of us who claim Christ as our Lord have to deal with.
Too many are baptized to get into the church. With them, their baptism is only a ritual required by the institution which makes you a member of that organization called a church. These people feel that if they are properly immersed and the preacher says the right words, then they have been properly baptized. What they fail to consider is the part they should have played in the process. It is not something someone does to you. It is something you do in responding to the will of God. You do not respond to God’s will with some act, but with your spiritual self, for God is Spirit. Peter says that baptism is not the act of cleansing the body with water, but is “the answer of a good conscience toward God”.
Jesus was baptized in answer of a good conscience toward God. He told John to baptize Him in order to fulfill all righteousness. God is the source of all righteousness. Your conscience is that part of your spiritual self that says to do what you believe to be right. Jesus’ one motivation for all His actions was to do the will of His Father. It does not matter if the act makes sense to you or not. It is the will of God, and so, if your conscience tells you to do what is right, then you will do it, even if it is illogical to you. Too many people refuse baptism because they do not see any sense in it. That is contrary to what one who wants to please God will do. Jesus was baptized not because it made sense to Him but because His Father wanted it. It is submitting my will to His.
If baptism is submitting my will to His, then after baptism I should live by His rules, not mine. Paul is here saying that we should not
go on sinning, i.e., following our own desires, and expect God’s grace to forgive us. He said once a person submits himself to Christ, he should be a changed person and live by Christ’s rules, not his own.
James had that problem when people argued that they were free to do as they pleased because they had placed their faith in God’s grace. He said, “Show me your faith without your actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions”. He was not saying that our actions save us, but he was saying that if our actions do not change, then we do not have the faith God requires to offer us the grace of forgiveness.
The bottom line of this is that once we become a Christian by being buried with Him in baptism, our life should change. We should feel in constant touch with God and speak to Him regularly, asking for guidance and being grateful for His presence in our life. That is what Paul meant by “Pray without ceasing”. Be always conscious of His presence, and behave as if He was personally with you. Read His Word with a prayer that says, “Lord, what do you have to say to me?”
When Peter, on Pentecost, said, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins”, he was not saying that the act of baptism would take your sins away. He was saying that your baptism was a recognition that the death of Christ on the Cross was for you, and that you were committing your life to Him because of it.
That profession of faith was the connection with His death which caused the Father to give you His grace and treat you no longer as a sinner, but now as a Son. But that commitment was a commitment of your life, and now you should act like a Son of the King, not like one who can do as he pleases.