Baptism – putting on your military uniform

‘For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ,’ Paul explained (Galatians 3:27). But, of course, one can only do so after agreeing to enlist in Christ’s army. Furthermore, one cannot don the uniform over one’s old clothes. First one must put off one’s regular attire. And what would that be?

Put off ‘the old self’

Paul had just said that these new believers had now put off their prison garb, (they had been ‘held captive under the law,’ ‘imprisoned under sin,’ Galatians 3:23, 22-25). Actually, we must also remove even our civilian clothing, as we no longer can be just ‘one of the crowd’.

Baptism takes place in water, not in a pile of leaves, because we have obeyed the command: ‘… be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name’ (Acts 22:16).

Paul often offered lists of typical characteristics of ‘the old self’ that died at Calvary, and lists of the contrasting Christlike features of ‘the new self’ put on at our initiation, that we must develop through godly discipline as sound life skills thereafter (eg. Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 4:22 – 5:1; Colossians 3:5-15). What are these distinguishing ways?

Discard habits of ‘the old self’ –

* old behaviour, such as: ‘sexual immorality’, ‘sorcery’, ‘idolatry’, ‘fits of anger’, ‘drunkenness’ and stealing; * unwholesome speech, such as: ‘slander’, ‘malice’, ‘corrupting talk’ and  obscenities; * unChristlike attitudes, such as: ‘jealousy’, ‘envy’, ‘evil desire’, ‘covetousness’ and ‘bitterness’. 

Dress your mind in the intentions of ‘the new self’ –

* godly behaviour, such activities as: ‘love’, ‘kindness’, and ‘honest work’;

* beneficial speech, such as: ‘speak truth to one another’ and engage in ‘talk … for building [others] up [that] gives grace to those who hear it’; * attitudes of Jesus, such as: ‘patience’, loyalty’, ‘gentleness’, ‘self-control’, ‘a  compassionate heart’, ’humility’ and readiness to forgive. 

Our military uniform is Christ (Ephesians 6:10-20) as our:

* helmet – of wholesome thinking; * sandals – of eagerness to spread the gospel of peace (run on ‘beautiful feet’, Isaiah 54:7); * shin pads – of prayerfulness; * belt – of integrity; * breastpiece – of uprightness before God and others; * shield – of faith.

To defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1-58), David –

put off Saul’s armour (and did not act beyond his personal reality). His victory led to:

A covenant with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4) who:

put off his armour, also his sword, that David put on (for hand to hand conflict), his bow (against any distant foe) and his belt (to hold his armour together), and thus made himself openly available to his covenant brother, David; and ‘loved him as his own soul.’ Unfortunately, he kept his shoes and left David, walking in them back to the palace, and all too soon died in shame alongside his failed, suicide father, King Saul (1 Samuel 31).

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