Catechism Reflections - Questions 315-320
#315: What change did the Holy Spirit bring about in my life through my baptism?
#316: What new attitude characterizes the new person within each of us?
#317: In what ways does the old Adam battle against the new person within us?
#318: In what way does Baptism equip us to battle the old Adam in our daily lives?
#319: How do we drown the sinful nature in our daily lives?
#320: How does Baptism strengthen the new person within us for Christian living every day of our lives?
It is amazing how many times one little word can make a huge difference. “She said yes” is a lot different than “she said no.” “I aced the test” is a lot different than “I failed the test.” Changing one word can change a person’s whole outlook on a situation.
The same is true when it comes to Baptism. When Martin Luther spoke of his baptism, it was never “I was baptized,” but rather, “I am baptized.” Because while the act of Baptism happens in just a few moments, its effects last a lifetime; indeed, on into eternity. This week’s catechism questions do a great job of drawing our attention to the ongoing effect that Baptism has in the heart and life of a Christian.
Baptism makes us spiritually alive and gives us a new self - a new creation that loves the Lord and seeks to avoid sin. We weren’t born with that person inside of us, but that new person is now with us every day as a result of our baptism!
Baptism sets us free from slavery to sin - not just a one-time, one-day affair, but a freedom we get to enjoy every day of our lives. Baptism works in us a hatred of sin, so that every day we wish to drown our sinful nature and all the evil desires it has. And so every day, we revisit the horror of our sin and the amazing depth of God’s grace - which is nothing more than a return to and reliving of our baptism! Our sinful nature is put to death and our new creation is given strength to live each day to God’s glory.
Most of all, Baptism delivers daily confidence that our sin is forgiven. It is said that a contemporary of Luther, a man named Jerome Weller, confided to Luther one day that his sins troubled him so much that he was beginning to doubt his salvation. Luther immediately responded, “Don’t you know that you are baptized?” Weller later remarked that that one phrase was more powerful than an entire sermon. It is also said of Luther himself, that when he felt greatly troubled by his own sins, he would take a piece of chalk and write “I am baptized” on his desk or his wall as a constant comfort and reminder of the forgiveness of sins that was his and the status as God’s dear child that he enjoyed as a result of his baptism. While those of us whose kids are old are grateful that they are out of the “coloring on the walls” phase of childhood and may not encourage that exact behavior, what a cool reminder of where we stand with God. No sin from our past, no guilt from our conscience, and nothing Satan can throw at us can change the fact that we are baptized. Our sins are washed away and we can be confident of God’s love for us in Jesus.
One little word can make all the difference. Baptism isn’t just a past event for a Christian, something that happened long ago and was memorialized with a certificate tucked away somewhere. No, we are baptized - made dead to sin, alive with Christ, and confident of our salvation every day of our lives. Thanks be to God!