Monday, July 3, 2006

Battle With Your Baptism

Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the Living God? (1 Samuel 17:26)
When David asked this concerning Goliath, he was not engaging in idle name-calling or WWF-style trash-talk. No, he was getting to the very heart of the matter — his covenant with God.

Circumcision, the cutting away of the male foreskin, was the covenant sign God established with the children of Israel. All men of God, young and old, bore this sign in their body and were constantly reminded by it that they were in covenant with the Living God. The essence of covenant is in exchange: All that we have belongs to Him; all that He has belongs to us. Our enemies are His enemies; His enemies are our enemies.

Goliath was uncircumcised; he had no such covenant with God. Goliath was a Philistine, an enemy of covenant Israel, and therefore an enemy of God Himself. So David understood that when Goliath defied the armies of Israel, he was actually defying the armies of the Living God — and this would not stand.

But why did Saul and his armies allow Goliath to carry on in this manner? Surely Almighty God knows how to vanquish His enemies. But the problem was that Saul and his men had forgotten how to trust in God and walk in the authority of His covenant provisions.

David, however, understood his covenant position with God very well and was thus undeterred by the size of the Philistine armies or even the size of Goliath himself. He was ready to take them all on, fully relying on the Living God with whom he and all Israel were in covenant. He knew it would be more than enough to prevail in any battle. So David defeated Goliath, cut off his head and sent the Philistines fleeing.

But what does this have to do with baptism? Just this: As circumcision was the sign of covenant with God under the Old Testament, so baptism is the sign of covenant with God under the New. It belongs to all those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and identifies us with the people of God.
Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we all shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believer that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. (Romans 6:3-9)
John said, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The Son of God took on flesh, becoming fully human as well as fully divine, and identifying Himself so thoroughly with us, took on all our enemies and defeated them at the Cross. For all those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ, the devil and his works no longer have any authority over us.

Baptism is an ordinance, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ has ordained it for us. But it is also a sacrament, that is, an outward and physical sign of an inward and spiritual reality. All who have received Christian baptism have received a precious sign from God that we belong to His people and have covenant relationship with Him.

David said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?” Today, we can face any enemy or adversity and say, “What is this unbaptized circumstance that it should defy the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is battling with our baptism.

Martin Luther understood this very well. He hung a plaque on the wall of his study which read, “I have been baptized.” This was his battle cry whenever the devil came after him with lies and accusations. He said, “The only way to drive away the devil is through faith in Christ, by saying: ‘I have been baptized, I am a Christian.’”
Whenever the devil comes railing after you like Goliath, with deception, condemnation, sickness, depression, poverty, fear — whatever — remember that he is an “uncircumcised Philistine.” He has no covenant with God. But you do — and your baptism is the outward, physical sign that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has destroyed all the works of the devil. God has given you this sign so that you may remember who you are — and whose you are — and walk in the covenant promise of God and the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Yet in all these things were are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:31-37)
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we enter into covenant relationship with God. Baptism is not the cause of that relationship, but it is the outward sign God has given to show that we have covenant with Him. Remember your baptism — the sign of who you are in Christ — and go do battle against the things that do not line up with the authority of heaven.