This article focuses on Romans 6:1-11, which can be read here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%206:1-11
In this reading, Paul asks the question: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” I realize that the words of Paul are not easy to understand; but think about what “baptized into His death” says.
The root Greek word “baptizó” is recognizable as “baptize,” but let us examine the true meaning of that word. According to Strong’s Concordance, the basic definition says, “I dip, sink.” The literal meaning is said to be: “I dip, submerge, but specifically of ceremonial dipping; I baptize.” That means the religious mind takes a word of basic meaning and elevates it to a ceremonial title, such that “baptize” means, “I baptize.” It assumes everyone knows that is a ceremonious sinking underwater, just as John the Baptizer did to Jews in the Jordan River.
That is part of the reason Paul is so difficult to grasp. He wrote in basic terms that are interpreted by the later mind – those who possess the Big Brain of Hindsight – as having greater than basic meaning. Paul somehow transforms from being just a normal guy that is filled with the Holy Spirit to suddenly being a pope, dressed in the finest papal robe and tiara, holding a golden scepter and silver staff. Simple Paul speaks on such a high level that the majority of normal folk whisper to one another, “This is over my head. Thank God we have priests who know what Paul meant.”
Consider the same words written by Paul in ‘ordinary guy’ language: “Do you not know that all of us who have been submerged into Christ Jesus have been sunk into His death?”
First of all, Paul spoke as if his question could not be misunderstood by asking, “Do you not know?” He spoke to those who would easily understand what his words meant. Thus, he began chapter six with the question: “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?”
That leads one to “grace” being another word that the Big Brain thinks it knows, but goes too far beyond a meaning easily defined by the ordinary Joe. The Greek word translated as “grace” is “charis,” which is defined in simple-to-understand terms like “favor, gratitude, thanks, and kindness.” The higher meaning is then: “a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ.”
Paul said that being submerged into Christ Jesus means our little brains have gone under the control of the Christ mind, so we act just as did Jesus. The favor of that presence … the blessing brought … is Salvation. Salvation means we have been washed clean of our past sins AND that gift means everyone who understands Paul readily agrees that going back to sin would mean rejecting that holy presence … that grace from God. No one who has submerged into Christ Jesus would return to the old ways, bobbing like a Big Brain float on the surface of the water, unable to sink.
This brings out the most confusing part, where Paul added, “all of us … were baptized into his [Jesus’] death.” We know Jesus died for our sins, but we think that means Jesus suffered death and was buried, so we can all go on sinning. All we have to do is realize when we have sinned (like reciting the Confession of Sins aloud together) and ask God for forgiveness. However, that is not the meaning of “we were sunk into his death,” after having been “submerged into Christ.”
Paul goes on to explain: “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin.” To have ourselves also be crucified, so we too die alongside Jesus, such that “whoever has died is freed from sin,” are concepts the uninitiated struggle to grasp. Confusion is how a Big Brain attaches baptism to death.
Certainly, human beings are not fish and cannot survive in a submerged state, when water is the element of submersion. If someone were to hold a human being underwater for more than ten minutes, that human being would drown and be dead. In that way, someone could be washed clean of sins by being executed via baptism by water … the ritual where someone dunks a willing participant’s head underwater. If Christians were killed in that act of willing sacrifice, then Judaism and Christianity would be celebrated in cemeteries, rather than synagogues and churches, with priests and pastors in prison for murder.
Realizing how this means “baptism” has absolutely nothing to do with submersion in water seems so difficult for Christians to grasp. It becomes like Consuela, the maid on Family Guy: “Baptism no water. That’s nice. I dunk clean now.”
Priests call christening with water sprinkles a sacrament, while pastors who dunk congregation members in industrial baptismal pools or go down to the local river to do it; both are making their followers believe baptism by water is the cat’s meow. This is even though John the Baptizer said, “I dip you in water. The one after me will submerge you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Getting wet does not make a Christian “baptized into his [Jesus’] death.”
When Paul then wrote, “We have been united with him in a death like his” … because all Apostles can equally say, “Our old self was crucified with him” … think about what that means.
The Greek word “anthrōpos” was written by Paul and translated into the word “self.” The Greek word actually means “man” (parallel to the Hebrew “adam”), inferring then “human, mankind,” with the contextual reference there being the body of flesh that holds a soul within. A body without a soul is nothing more than dust or clay – matter without the spirit of life. When the English definition of “self” is then understood to mean, “The total, essential, or particular being of a person; the individual,” as well as “one’s consciousness of one’s own being or identity; the ego,” and “the distinct individuality or identity of a person or thing,” “self” or “man” is that part of a Christian-being that must suffer a death like Jesus.
Christians are expected to have already experienced that death, stated by Paul, if they can truly say they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The “spirit of life” (man with self) is not the same as “the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the true sacramental baptism cannot be given by a priest or pastor, as they can only symbolically mimic what God’s presence (His gift) in a human being is like. This is seen in each of the Seven Sacraments of the Universal Church.
Baptism through the Holy Spirit is like being submerged in the water of God in Christ. Confirmation through the Holy Spirit is like being able to explain why one wants to be with others of like Mind (the Mind of Christ). That Mind fills Saints with all knowledge of the prophecies of Holy Scriptures, knowledge coming from being filled with the blood of Christ, via the Holy Spirit (not seminaries). Such understanding is then symbolized by the Eucharistic ritual of bread and wine, as the body of words that leads a disciple to be filled with the blood of Jesus – God’s Son. Confession by the Holy Spirit is the admission of sins past, made with the power and promise of never sinning again. The Healing of the Sick is a talent given to those who have the Holy Spirit, thus becoming a reproduction of Jesus Christ, with God’s healing touch the gift given. The Holy Orders of ordination means each Apostle is a Saint, as the rebirth of Jesus Christ, who then repeats a ministry that goes to others for the purpose of passing that Spirit on (as Paul did to the Christians of Rome). They preach the truth via the Holy Spirit, so the kingdom of heaven goes to them (not vice versa). Finally, Marriage is human, when on the human level of two uniting for the physical reproduction of offspring. However, marriage by the Holy Spirit comes when a human being sacrifices self (subservience), in order to become the bride of God. That holy union produces the offspring that is a reborn Jesus Christ, into the human form that has died of ego (self).
When Paul wrote, “The death he [Jesus] died, he died to sin, once for all,” Paul meant Jesus suffered in the death of his physical body only one time. The “once for all” part of that statement of truth does not mean no one else has to die. It means that, like Jesus dying only once before his resurrection, those who will pick up their crosses and follow, “in a death like his,” also only have to die once. Jesus died physically so we can die figuratively, of self. The Apostles all died in that manner, even though they were then likewise persecuted to physical death, similar to that imposed on Jesus. That “pre-death” death is necessary, because it is the ego that will easily be tricked into following sin and make one lower his or her stake (cross) to the ground (no longer lifted up). Thus, the ego must die, so that “we will also live with him,” as him reborn.
So, as Paul wrote, “You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” The Romans to whom Paul wrote were not trainees. They were Jews who believed the prophecy of a Messiah. They were Jews who believed Paul’s conviction that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed their Christ. Still, they were not believers in Paul. They were alive to God through a deep love in their hearts and a willingness to be subservient to their most holy husband. They were alive to God in Jesus Christ as the deaths of their egos allowed them to be reborn versions of the Savior … just as Paul was.
All this means you don’t need to worry about the way the world is heading, praying to God to save the world of the sin that has taken over. That prayer can only find the “tag, you’re it” response. The world is the mother of all sin, thus (as matter/dust) humans are all born of sin. Jesus had died on a cross and ascended into heaven, but his absence meant his disciples would carry the torch of Christ Jesus, leading others to the kingdom of heaven, where sin does not exist. Paul too was tagged; but his imprisonment did not mean Christianity would die on the vine, because Paul spread the Gospel to thousands of new Jesus Christs. The stakes have been kept high, so the vine can bear good fruit … until today.
Today, as always, maintenance in the vineyard is necessary, so the wild grapes of sin are kept out. Test yourself: Can you fluently understand Paul? Or, do you need it explained to you? Is it clear as mud? Or, is it crystal clear … clear as day?