I’ve got an idea for a new invention. Keep it “top secret” because I may want to patent it and get an exclusive deal with LifeWay to market this!
Ever see someone baptized in a white robe? Now, a white robe isn’t necessary, and I didn’t wear a white robe when I was baptized, but that white robe is to symbolize the purity that Christ provides, as our sins are “washed away” by His cleansing blood. All of these things are metaphors or physical symbols of the spiritual realities that occur with spiritual conversion. At the moment of our salvation (which precedes the public demonstration through baptism), we are “positionally pure” in Christ.
I didn’t wear a white robe, but a black robe would have been more appropriate!
Yes, a black robe. (This is the top secret invention I mentioned . . . I’m sure it would go over and be a big seller in LifeWay’s stores!)
Our last baptism was held down at the Mazarn River, on the other side of the pasture that lies across the road from our church (yep, we are a country church). No one wore a robe that day, but imagine if Ruthie was wearing a black robe to represent her sinful condition before she came to Christ, and imagine that this black robe was treated chemically in such a way that when her pastor plunged Ruthie underwater, the black color would dissolve into a blazing white.
If the baptismal robe would turn from black to white . . . that would truly be symbolic of what happens at salvation!
I don’t want to confuse people here; baptism does not produce salvation, it is merely an outward demonstration of the spiritual conversion that has already occurred, as a testimony to the gospel.
Baptism is the physical demonstration of a spiritual reality; it signifies and demonstrates the conversion that has already occurred. Water baptism provides the physical picture of a sinner, coming to the Savior for cleansing, the removal of their sinful state, and that being accomplished through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
[box]Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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 6:3–4).[/box]
Baptism is identifying with and joining Christ, through His work on the cross, where the “old man” is buried and we are raised to walk “in newness of life.”
The point of my post isn’t really to provide a lesson from “Baptism 101,” but I’m using baptism as a way to illustrate the daily pursuit of purity in a believer’s life.
So, imagine with me, if most of our church family has just witnessed ten-year-old Ruthie’s baptism, and everyone is standing down at the Mazarn River (Ruthie actually wore a t-shirt and shorts, but picture her in a blazing white robe). She is dripping wet from river water, everyone is celebrating with her, and she is a beautiful picture of our positional purity in Christ.
This is how Ephesians describes those of us who are “in Christ.”
[box]. . . Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will . . .
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . . (Ephesians 1:4 –5; 2:1–6).[/box]
So here we are, all standing around basking in the joy of Ruthie’s baptism, seeing the river water dripping from her long, gleaming, gloriously blazing white baptismal robe. We’re talking and laughing, just enjoying the moment . . . when some late-comer comes flying down the dirt road. He’s barreling toward us, bringing the biggest dust cloud ever, and that brown dust just covers Ruthie’s blazing white robe . . . turning it a dingy beige.
Ruthie’s dingy beige robe now looks a lot more like our lives.
That may be a silly and imaginative example, but it’s a picture of what I’m trying to describe in preparation to talk about “pursuing purity of heart” in tomorrow’s post. For those of us who’ve come to Christ for salvation, we are positionally pure, because of His redeeming work on the cross . . . but we live in a world of filthy corruption.
We are “in the world” surrounded by the contamination of the fall: the unholy, evil, perverse, profanity of the world, the garbage . . . but we are not “of” the world. As believers, we are temples of the Holy Spirit, we’ve been given new life, a holy birth into purity . . . but we are like that example of Ruthie, wearing a blazing white baptismal robe while the dust of filth from the corruption of the fallen world swirls around us, sometimes dirtying our robe . . . thankfully, that dirt cloud can never remove our “robe of righteousness in Christ.”
But the dirt around us is something we must realize is there; it has potential, not to remove our robe, but to turn it a dingy color, or add a layer of soil . . . so we must take action to care for the “purity of our robe.”
We’ve got to be diligent about throwing that robe in the washer for some serious cleansing!
That’s why the writer of Hebrews instructs believers to:
[box]Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . . (Hebrews 12:1).[/box]
When we talk about purity of heart, it is important to make a distinction between the “positional purity” that Christ provides us at salvation and the daily “practical purity” that is required of us as we walk in a fallen and corrupt environment.
We’ll look at how to do that tomorrow, when we pick back up with our summer study using Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book: Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, as we look at what it means to pursue purity.