So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26-27 (NIV).
Paul begins to summarize chapter 3. He circles back to the fact that followers of Jesus are children of God, inheritors of the promise made to Abraham. He has spent the chapter explaining how this is so, how Jesus made it so. Here, Paul tells his Galatian friends that our baptism (into faith) clothes us
In the last words Jesus speaks before He ascends to Heaven, He says to “go and make disciples, baptizing.” Jews had been ritually cleaning for hundreds of years. While not for the purpose of spiritual sanctification, this washing purified the worshipper of uncleanness before he or she came to God. When John the Baptist began baptizing people in the Jordan, the idea of being cleansed from uncleanness (sin) was one with which people were already well familiar.
Yet when John baptized Jesus, the practice gained new meaning. The death and resurrection of Christ then fully complete this transformation of baptism into something new, something actually made new by Jesus. Through baptism, we receive spiritual life. Our human life, already alive, is given (by God) the covering of Christ’s Holy Spirit because, in the water, God sanctifies us for His own. In this way, we gain new covering, new clothing, new attire in which to live our lives.
We are clothed in Jesus. When the Father sees us, He no longer sees just sinful us. He sees us clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, in Jesus’ blood, in Jesus’ baptism, in Jesus’ life; in His own life. To quote my friend Wayne Vogt, baptism is the start of Christian life. It’s the point where God imparts His Spirit into ours.
And that’s when the tough work begins.
There’s a part in “O Brother Where Art Thou” where Delmar, one of the prison escapees with George Clooney, gets baptized. When Delmar comes out of the water, he says, “well that’s it, boys, I’ve been redeemed…the preacher says all my sins is washed away, including that Piggly Wiggly I knocked over in Yazoo.”
Ok, yep, that’s true. ALL our sins are washed away. From there on out, however, it’s up to us to grow. To learn, mature in the faith. We learn to pray; we remake old habits; we follow Christ and His example, His teachings. We take on the heart of a servant by replacing the heart of the selfish. We clothe ourselves in Jesus by choice because He remade our inmost being by His grace. And we learn to wear that clothing well, to care for it, so Jesus might better welcome sisters and brothers, wherever they are (or art).
For further reading: Matthew 28:19, Romans 8:14, Romans 13:14, Galatians 3:28
Father, all praise to You for clothing me in Your Son’s holy righteousness.
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