The baptism and regeneration of man is not a purely formal matter. True conversion involves real changes, and these are absolutely necessary to overcome this world.
Inhalt / Content
Man’s redemption from certain death because of his sins is by the grace of God. Neither good intentions nor good deeds of man can save him from a deserved death. The justification of Jesus Christ is a pure, undeserved gift. Righteousness by grace through faith and not righteousness by works. Anyone who has internalized this statement, which is repeatedly emphasized in the gospel, is still in danger of getting caught up in another misunderstanding. And this in turn, despite the (imperfect) faith, still bypasses the justification by Jesus Christ.
In the gospel, the righteousness of Jesus is often represented symbolically as “white robe” or “robe of white linen”. Man cannot put on this “white dress” of justice himself. Only Jesus Christ can do that. It is His righteousness bestowed upon man. This possible and unfortunately also widespread misunderstanding lies in the fact that people simply get this dress of justice put on. In the sense that the dress of Jesus covers the sins and outwardly the sinful person appears as righteous. This is exactly not the case. For as in all other things, God is straight forward, does not do things by halves, and does not do patchwork. Before Jesus puts on the robe of righteousness, the old robe of sin must be stripped off.
God does not paint over stains (sins), but removes them. The robe of righteousness is not pulled over the stained robe of sin, but man stands there “naked” first, like a newborn, in this case a born again. And this connection is also described with the term “born again”.
Many are of the opinion that one now believes in God, in His only begotten son Jesus Christ, gets baptized and that’s the end of it. The previous life can simply go on like this, since one experiences grace because of faith and is thus also redeemed. Mistake! For regeneration is the death of the old man and the rebirth of the new man. That person who, after being born again, walks in faith and obedience to God.
After his conversion, the truly born-again person stands naked before God. The sins of past lives have not been whitewashed over, but have been washed away. They are no longer attached to man and for this reason this newly born man is also without sin. But the coming life does not consist of simply continuing the previous sinful way of life, just to confess it regularly in prayer and to ask for forgiveness. This routine leads somewhere, but not into the justification of Jesus Christ and certainly not into sanctification. The future life must not consist of cleaning up routine sin from oneself, but of abstaining from all sin.
Wer an dieser Stelle jedoch einräumt, dem gefallenen Menschen sei es gar nicht möglich, die Gesetze (Commandments) However, anyone who admits at this point that it is not at all possible for fallen man to keep the laws of God should also be aware that with this assertion he is joining forces with the great adversary. Because this is exactly one of his accusations,” man cannot keep the laws, God is unjust”.
Are the 10 commandments really not observable by humans? To do this, one must first be clear about one’s own fallen state. Of his own accord, man cannot actually do anything sensible, least of all what is pleasing in the eyes of God. However, for those who are actually born again, i.e. who firmly believe in Jesus Christ, who bears his testimony, keeping the commandments is not an act of “mighty overcoming”. For the Holy Spirit does this work. The apostle John put it in a way that was easy to understand, 1. John 5:3:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
Jesus Christ summed up the 10 commandments in “love of God and love of his neighbor”, as in Luke 10:27:
“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
This is not an abolition of the 10 commandments, but their summary, or the logical consequence. Of course, those who love God do not worship anything or anyone else. Those who love God do not slander His name either. Those who love God also keep His fourth commandment, the Sabbath. (Exodus 20:8-11). The principle also applies to fellow human beings. Those who love their neighbors do not steal, cheat, defame, discredit or murder them, nor take their belongings or spouse. Therefore, the 10 Commandments also describe the character of God, because He is love, is faithful and just.
Jesus Christ’s statement in John 14:15 is therefore all too logical:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
A truly born-again person in true faith strives to resemble as closely as possible the character of Jesus Christ. He will not be able to achieve it, that is obvious, because even a born-again person is still inclined to sin in the flesh. His spirit, however, is in the heavenly realms, always looking to Jesus Christ. The key word for the born again is “overcoming”. Jesus Christ Himself overcame, as He Himself said in John 16:33:
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
It is therefore important not only to overcome sin, but everything that represents a superfluous and therefore usually harmful passion. Peter gave the reason why in 2 Peter 2:19:
“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.”
Overcoming sin as well as all other harmful influences cannot be achieved by humans alone, but with the help of God through His Holy Spirit. So in 1 John 4:4:
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
and also in 1 John 5:4:
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
Jesus Christ himself also emphasizes the necessary overcoming, as in Revelation 3:21:
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
Here Jesus Christ clearly shows how enormously important overcoming is, namely the overcoming that He himself has shown.
In the gospel there are some “practice examples” that clearly indicate that true faith also includes overcoming sin.
A woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus Christ by the Pharisees and scribes to set a trap for Him. How should one proceed with this woman, because she actually deserved her stoning? Jesus Christ then said the well-known saying: “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone”. The Pharisees and scribes then disappeared. All the accusers were gone. Jesus Christ did not accuse the woman either and said to her: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more!” (John 8:11)
This scene alone includes Jesus’ grace and also the law in force. “Sin no more!” is the clear command of Jesus Christ. In other words, the sins are to be overcome.
The cleansing from sins immediately with the new birth shows the healing of a leper in Matthew chapter 8. A leper was considered unclean and could not even be touched. Impurity is also a symbol of sin. A leper came to meet Jesus Christ and asked Him for help: “Lord, if you want, you can cleanse me! Jesus Christ didn’t have to be asked twice and answered: “I want; be cleansed!” The leprosy was gone instantly, instantly. Man was “cleansed.”
This also shows that the born-again of man is not a purely formal matter, but causes an actual change in man.
The new birth, which is presented in clear words in the New Testament, was the sanctuary doctrine for the people of God in the Old Testament based on the tabernacle or its temple. Nach dem Brandopferaltar (Buße, Reue) im Vorhof folge gleich das Waschbecken (Reinigung von Sünden, Taufe, Wiedergeburt). Erst im Anschluss ging es nach der Wiedergeburt ins Zelt, also ins Heiligtum hinein.
The forgiveness of sin is not just a mere declaration of righteousness, but actually a liberation. Sin is not painted over, it is removed. Therefore, the depiction of superiority of the robe of Jesus’ righteousness over sin-stained robe is misleading. The stained and wrinkled dress must be discarded. Nothing is painted over, it is only exchanged. Jesus Christ certainly does not put His robe of righteousness on a man who has clung to his sin, for he knew what he was doing. As Paul explained to the church in Corinth, 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
True faith in the gospel and being born again leads to a total change of heart and action, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The result is not constant repentance due to constantly committed (old) sins, but keeping away from all sins. The born again man can also fall into sin again, a “slip”. But where sin filled the measure, the grace of Jesus overflowed. Those who are actually born again certainly do not understand this as a license, but see to it that they are constantly sanctifying themselves with a view to Jesus Christ. The ungodly man and half-baked believer cannot do this, but the truly born-again man can. With God’s help.
Jesus’ words sum it up completely:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Bible verses from King James Version