July 4, 2008 - Friday of the 6th Week after Trinity

Today's Reading: Romans 6:1-11

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 10:1-25; Acts 11:19-30

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (Romans 6:1-2)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There is a great temptation to think that the purpose of forgiveness is so that I don't have to worry about my sins and can do whatever I want. That almost seems like the logical conclusion, doesn't it? People like to make fun of the Gospel that way: “Oh, yeah, just do whatever you want and then just ask for forgiveness!” That's what some people thought St. Paul was preaching.

But the apostle writes that such thinking misses the point! When we are baptized, we aren't freed TO sin, we are freed FROM sin. We aren't given new life to do whatever we want, we are given new life that is dead to sin. Being baptized isn't about US. It's about our neighbor. What I mean is that when you are baptized, the Lord is taking away your sins so you don't have to worry about them and can spend your time worrying about your neighbor. What do they need? What can I do for them? What good works can I do to help them?

A lot of people want the Gospel to be all about them. “Oh, yes,” they say, “I'm baptized, so MY sins are forgiven and I don't go to hell! Yea me!” While Baptism certainly kills your Old Adam and brings forth a new man, what's that new man's purpose? To live for himself? To do whatever he feels like? Not at all. Rather, it is to glorify God and serve our neighbor.

But that sort of living requires a death. It means that every day we have to die to ourselves, crucifying ourselves and not thinking of ourselves, but thinking of others. And that's not easy. In fact, it's impossible! And so another death is needed. Not just our trying to ignore our sinful flesh, but the perfect flesh of Jesus being sacrificed to pay for our sins. In order for us to live in grace, He must die to sin. He must die for our sins. He must die with our sins. He must die as a sinner dies, under the judgment of God.

And because Jesus has undergone that death, He can raise you up in the waters of Holy Baptism. Because He has taken away your sins, you die and rise with Him at the font. Shall we sin because we're free in Christ? No way! But even if we do, it's back to our baptism to hear the Good News that our sins have been taken away and we are now dead to sin and alive in Christ. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sin disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ! I have comfort even stronger: Jesus' cleansing sacrifice. Should a guilty conscience seize me Since my Baptism did release me In a dear forgiving flood, Sprinkling me with Jesus' blood? (LSB 594:2)