Devotional Thought of the Day:
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. 7 For a dead person has been absolved from sin. 8 If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Romans 6:6-8 (NAB)
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; 7 for he that hath died is justified from sin. 8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; Romans 6:6-8 (ASV)
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. 19 In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, 20 who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. 21 This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. 1 Peter 3:18-22 (NAB)
613 God has a special right over us, his children: it is the right to our response to his love, in spite of our failings. This inescapable truth puts us under an obligation which we cannot shirk. But it also gives us complete confidence: we are instruments in the hands of God, instruments that he relies on every day. That is why, every day, we struggle to serve him. (1)
In my devotions today, I read of Peter’s denial of Jesus, and the grief that he dealt with, in realizing that he betrayed the promise that was made with all his heart, in realizing he betrayed Jesus.
How do you go on, after betraying someone you depend upon, someone you care for, someone you told you would die for? Do we just let the relationship fade into our past, even while we deal with the haunting guilt and the shame?
It maybe a family member you betrayed, or maybe an old friend, that person who you stood beside all those years. Definitely, all of us have betrayed God, some perhaps as tragically as Peter did, the night before Christ’s crucifixion. At some point in most of our lives, we’ve cried those same tears as Peter. We felt the pain and crushing anxiety of knowing that things will not be the same, ever again. In order to deal with this, we find distractions, new relationships, new hobbies, we work more, even things that would numb us from our pain.
We need hope, even when we feel things have gone beyond any reasonable expectation of hope.
Peter found such hope, and restoration, a complete transformation. Paul did as well.
Most translations in Romans 6:7 use the phrase “freed from sin” in translating dedikaiwtai apo tes amartias. I believe that this is a serious error, given the use of the root word’s ( dikaios ) multiple appearance in chapters 3-5. There it in its various forms is translated as righteious, made righteous, just or justified. It is more than being freed, it is God’s judgment, saying that you have been counted not guilty, that He views you as righteous, a view that is possible because Christ took upon Himself our guilt. This is more than just being freed from sin, it is declaring that sin has no claim on us, whatsoever.
The old ASV gets it right in saying we are declared justified, the NAB I think even makes it clearer with absolved from sin. We are cleansed and declared righteous, just, because of what. God has done.
In both passages, this answer is our baptism. Baptism, not as our work, but the appeal to God because we’ve been unifed to Christ’s death and resurrection. When we look at what God does, what He promises in baptism, we find the source of healing, of cleansing. We’ve died with Christ and live in Him. We have been absolved, counted righteous, cleansed, healed…
And it does something wonderful, it shapes us into God’s instruments, Our response to this work is to become God’s people, created to do good works, for we dwell in Christ.
How does Peter go from tears just before dawn on Good Friday, to the one who responds to others grief at their own betrayal of God? How can Peter point them to Baptism, and the transformation of their souls?
Because of the confidence that dieing with Christ, and being raised with Him brings. A confidence not in our ability to absolve us from sin, but His.
So rejoice in your baptism, may you grow in your knowledge of the extent of His love, mercy and healing given to you there.