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Simple Obedience

Read 1 Peter 3:18-22

"18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.​"

The ESV uses the term "suffered" where other translations use the more blunt term of "died". I believe the ESV to be more impactful here because when you consider what Jesus went through to offer us salvation from sins, it was not just that He died, but that He was beaten, humiliated, scarred, emotionally crushed, physically and violently assaulted for our sake. Jesus went through more than we can even comprehend. I have heard many say that when they watched Mel Gibson's interpretation of the Passion week of Jesus, that they simply could not watch as Jesus was scourged and crucified, and yet I have been guilty of letting that appear as having no affect on my life. Do we truly understand what He went through for us? This is by no means intended to be some type of guilt trip, but for those who have committed themselves to be followers of Christ, it should be proof that you have aligned yourself with the only One who can save you from your sins.

Once we begin to understand the depths that Jesus went to in order to give us an opportunity for salvation, we can then understand the rest of what Peter says to us today in this passage. "For Christ also suffered once for sins..." "because they formerly did not obey..." when you read these quotes and what follows after, you are painted a picture of a world that looked at what God represented and what God offered and many simply pushed it away and said they would interpret "holiness" or "righteousness" for themselves. AND WHEN THAT DID NOT WORK BUT RATHER RESULTED IN CATASTROPHE AND CHAOS, God still put forth yet another opportunity to achieve salvation...

"Baptism, which corresponds to this..." Corresponds to what? In verse 20, Peter explains that for those that prepared the ark, it was their escape from God's wrath and was the only thing that saved them from being just like the rest of their world. SO, then what does Peter say is the direct correlation to that? Baptism. Peter continues on to explain that this is not simply getting in the water to remove the dirt of the day, but rather a purification of the conscience before God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

I simply wonder at times... if Jesus went through all of that for me to be saved, why do I struggle with accepting that baptism is essential to my salvation? Is this an issue like Naaman where I have a hard time accepting that my obedience is this simple? If you remember, the servant told Naaman that if the prophet had asked him to do some great thing, he would have done it without complaint... Are some in our world becoming blind to this concept? We demand more and more and more and more and more and yet overlook the small, still voice speaking to us through God's word... I cannot see where things have changed, the formula still seems simple - "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16:16)

Read Romans 6:1-14

"1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."

In this passage, Paul wades into the discussion concerning what it means to obey God and, in so doing, answers a long standing question about baptism's influence on our lives. In the first four verses, Paul explains that we are not to sin to try and increase grace because when we obeyed God and were baptized for the removal of those sins, we were crucifying and burying that old way of thinking to rise and walk in newness of life. The continuation of this thought goes throughout the remaining verses of this passage, culminating with verses 12-14 where Paul explains that through this obedience, simple as it may seem, we have declared that sin will no longer have any type of dominion or rule over our lives and that we serve a wonderful God of grace who is not asking us to do exactly what His Son did, but rather to simply obey the plan that was put in place to bring us to salvation.

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