I have mentioned often that baptism is very important. Through baptism we break with our old life. As I wrote in What has Baptism to do with Circumcision?, we bury our old life through baptism and it it no longer part of us. That is why it is so powerful, because through this, we can live free from the bondage of sin. However, this can raise the question: what if someone sins again? Does that person need to get baptized again?
This is a good question and many people struggle with this question when they think about getting baptized or after they are baptized. I will explain this through a story in the Bible. It will give us understanding about this matter.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. ~ John 13,3-11 ~
We read in this story that Jesus wash the feet of his disciples. Peter refuses Jesus to wash his feet. When Jesus states that Peter will have no part with him without washing his feet, then Peter wants Jesus to wash his hands and head as well. It is remarkable how quick Peter changes his mind. However, Jesus mentions something important. He says that if someone has taken a bath, he is clean and does not have to take a bath again.
So, what does this mean for us? We can take the lesson of Jesus for Peter. If we are cleansed, we don’t have to take a bath again. That means, if someone is purified through confession and repenting of his sins and through baptism in Jesus’ name (see Acts 2,38; 1 John 1,9; 1 Corinthians 6,11), then we don’t need to get baptized again.
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ~ Acts 2,38 ~
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1,9 ~
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6,11 ~
If we should not get baptized again, what then should we do? We can learn about this from Hebrews 10,19-22.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10,19-22 ~
We learn from this passage that we can come to God through the blood of Jesus. We should come to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings. We can do this through the sprinkling of our hearts to clean it from a guilty conscience. Besides, our bodies should be washed with pure water. This means that we can come boldly to God through the washing of our body. In other words, through baptism we can come to God with confidence. Also Peter writes about this when he talks about Noah, who was saved through the water.
This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. ~ 1 Peter 3,21-22 ~
Peter writes that baptism does not cleans our body from dirt. It gives us a new conscience, because we get a new heart (see Ezekiel 36,26) and we leave our old sinful life behind. However, when we sin after we are baptized, our conscience is dirty again. That is why we have to sprinkle our heart to clean it again from this guilty conscience. As we read in 1 John 2,1-2 we have an advocate in heaven. A great priest as we read in Hebrews.
But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. ~ 1 John 2,1-2 ~
This advocate or great priest is pleading for us. By his own blood, he paid our debt towards God. He is the atoning sacrifice. When we have sinned after baptism, we should come to God as quickly as possible and clear our conscience. When we do this, we can thank God for his forgiveness and for a clean conscience. In this way we sprinkle our heart and keep us in Christ. It is like Jesus said in John 13. If we do not cleanse our heart we have no part with Jesus.
We are purified through baptism, like taking a bath makes us clean from dirt. However, before we can take part of a meal, we have to wash our feet (as was custom among the Jews in Jesus’ time). This we do, because after taking a bath we get dirty on the road. In the same way we can get unclean after baptism in our walk of life. It does not have to be this way, but it is possible that we sin after baptism. Like the Jews needed to wash their feet before they could have supper, in the same way we need to have a clean heart before we can freely come to God. We also need a clean heart to take part in the Lord’s Supper, and ultimately, we need to have a pure heart to come to the Wedding Banquet of the Son.
God bless you,
Founder of Experience Jesus