When someone is baptized into the saving name of Jesus Christ, we’re affected in at least two ways: we’re filled with joy when we see their decision come to fruition in a world that makes such a far-reaching choice almost impossible, and at this time of introspection, we compare ourselves with this neophyte who appears to us clothed in white, and our garments spotted, spoiled, and marred.
So we think again, what does it mean to ‘walk in newness of life’—to be ‘a new creature’? Is this just a symbol, or is it really so? Are we new creatures in symbol only, or are we in fact new creatures?—after all, we are still mortal beings, quite recognizable to our friends. The phrase ‘new creature’ describes what we will ultimately become—immortal, pure, Christ-like-- in the kingdom to come. Meanwhile, we ought to try to act more like new creatures and assume a new attitude, a state of mind that affects our behavior.
To the believer, baptism is more than just a symbol—a change occurs. After we are baptized we are sinless. How is this possible? Without sin? How can this be? When Jesus Christ died for us, he conquered sin, the sting of death which comes to everyman. Our commitment to God in the act of baptism, makes it possible to freely approach Him in prayer in the name of Christ, our intercessor. If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. (1Jn2.1). By a constant re-cleansing through prayer and God’s grace, we are in fact new creatures, never thinking of ourselves better than those unenlightened souls around us , but rather atypical , thankful beneficiaries of this unspeakable gift.
The fundamental change that takes place in us after baptism is that we harbor less fear—less anxiety or dread of imminent danger or pain. We know fear can’t be eliminated entirely, because only perfect love casts out fear. This kind of love will materialize only in the kingdom to come.
In this life less fear means to have less fear of ridicule, or loss of social standing, material possessions, and most of all fear of death itself. After baptism a miraculous re-birth takes place in us and we’re moved in a new direction. Our fears—or concerns—become centered on others, not ourselves. It’s interesting to notice that over time the more selfless we become, the less fearful we are. God is on our side; we have a new mind now. It’s trite, but a dependable guarantee, IF God be for us, who can be against us, so what is there to fear?
As new creatures our conduct should stand out and be noticeable to others. A new creature tries to bear another’s burden and learns to put himself in another’s shoes. His home is a happy home, as far as he is able to make it happen. If the home of one who says he’s a new creature, but in reality has lost his way, that home will likely fuel discord, unhappiness, ill humor, jealousy. There’s something very wrong here. Has he received the grace of God in vain? This is an abomination. No less a word describes it.
After baptism we need to convince ourselves –believe in our hearts--that we really are new creatures and come to always think of ourselves that way. It’s time to get down to specifics. The power of positive thinking is not a phony idea, but one which has been around awhile and used to be directed toward a lesser end: winning friends and influencing people. The time has come for us now to elevate that power and aim toward the ideal we’ve set for ourselves. When we take the high road and adorn our lives with the qualities of life exhibited by Jesus Christ, we are in truth new creatures.
Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven,
Whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord
will never count against him. (Romans 4: 7, 8 – NIV)