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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 202

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From the Word: 1 I implore you then, fellow believers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this evil age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mental state, so that you may distinguish what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1–2)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

"The Daily Purpose of Baptism"

What is the significance of baptizing with water?

It signifies that the old Adam in us, together with all sins and evil desires, should be drowned by daily repentance and sorrow for sin, and be put to death, and that the new person should come forth every day and rise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?

Saint Paul says in Romans: “We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

Pulling It Together: Every day we must slay the old nature in us. By offering our doubts, temptations, and sins to God, we crucify the flesh (Gal 5:24). This is not a physical act like sacrificing an animal. Rather, this is a new variety of sacrifice, a correction of one’s state of mind. In this crucifixion, this mental and even emotional readjustment, the believer is tuned to the will of God. Be clear: this is something God does to us; we are not the doers. Paul says, “Be transformed,” not “Transform yourselves.” We simply offer our attitudes to God; he does the rest, the transforming. The Holy Spirit shows us his will, where we saw our inclinations before. He presents the things that are acceptable to God, where we had been interested in what pleased us.

What is more, when we insist on operating in the old mindset, and sin by failing to regard God’s will, God is not defeated. God is not beaten because we are not the transformers; our spiritual makeover does not depend upon our actions but upon the faithfulness of God. So, even when we sin, the appeal remains the same: offer yourself to God. We were buried with Christ in Baptism, and that old person must remain dead through daily repentance. In this attitude check, the new person, God’s person, emerges to live righteously before God. Daily repentance shows us that God’s perfect will is not something we accomplish. God does his own will by loving us as a Father, forgiving us, and transforming us through his righteousness, not our own.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, and transform me through your Spirit. Amen.

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