I lost a lot of years of my life in prison. Cells are dark places, and I felt like a captive. No hope, little freedom, nothing to live for. The long days, months, and years in prison were not something to remember. I might as well have been dead.
As the years passed, I accepted the fact that I had to be there and never really thought much about the possibility of being released. I had done very bad things and accepted the consequences of my actions.
But I will never forget the day my name was called. The voice sounded different. I was told I would be released! Wow! Though I didn’t think I deserved it, I surely wasn’t going to turn it down. The excitement of being freed from prison is beyond explanation. I felt like I was being given new life.
In addition to being locked up in a penitentiary as a prisoner of the state, I was in prison in another sense. I was held captive as a prisoner of Satan. It’s an equally dark, hopeless place, the prison of sin. I was a criminal both in the eyes of society and in the sight of God.
Thankfully, my name was called to be released from Satan’s prison! I began to read the Bible and gradually grasped God’s offer of forgiveness and invitation to holiness. I wanted what Jesus had to offer, and I accepted salvation. No longer was I held captive by sin. It was great news: I didn’t have to live in prison the rest of my life!
In his letter to the churches in Rome, Paul declares that the good news about no longer being incarcerated is related to what happens when one is baptized. It’s a welcome to your new life! All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death . . . that we too may live a new life (Rom 6:3-4).
So what does it mean to be baptized into Christ? It’s not an easy concept to understand. Going under the water when baptized is a picture of dying. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death. It’s death to the former life of sin that had us trapped.
But baptism doesn’t leave us under the water. We are raised from death to new life! It’s release from the prison of sin and freedom to something a thousand times better. It’s a new deal, the best deal!
Paul is like the prison guard telling the inmate, “You’re free; now go and make the best of it”: Do not let sin reign in your mortal body . . . rather, offer yourselves to God as instruments of righteousness (Rom 6:12-13).
Baptism into Christ is dying to sin and living to God. It’s an extreme makeover edition! Incarcerated no longer!
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