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1 Peter 3:21                God’s Word Translation

Baptism, which is like that water, now saves you. Baptism doesn’t save by removing dirt from the body. Rather, baptism is a request to God for a clear conscience. It saves you through Jesus Christ, who came back from death to life.

Everything changed with Jesus. John came preaching a baptism of repentance. Jesus brought a new baptism. A baptism, not out of something or removing something, but rather a baptism into something. That something is salvation, we are baptized into salvation. “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 11: 17).

Baptism, like so many things, experienced a fulfillment and renewal when Jesus came to the earth. Peter’s words in today’s verse are very perplexing because this is not the baptism we were raised thinking about. He wrote about an appeal to God for a clear conscience, not forgiveness of sins. Isn’t that amazing. This is a baptism of salvation but the salvation happens on the inside of us. We are made new and that renewal must occur in our minds as well as our spirits.

In this new dispensation, we are baptized in the Holy Spirit of God who has been likened to a river. So, we are still going to get our water baptism, it is just happening by Jesus in the river of the Holy Spirit. Can we even wrap our heads around this? God is doing something amazing in us by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as we are immersed in him, does not cleanse us from our sin. The blood of Jesus already did that. The Spirit washes through the inside of us cleansing out the sin consciousness. He washes out the sin identity and replaces it with an awareness of our life in Christ. No longer does the memory and stain of sin color our hearts and minds. The baptism in the Holy Spirit restored us. He cleanses out the memory of sin and replaces it with the remembrance of Jesus. He replaces the injuries in our hearts with the image, and in fact, the very presence of Jesus.

Salvation, at this level, takes place in our conscience. Jesus has done his part. He has saved us from sin. His love has cleansed us. However, many people carry around the consciousness of sin in their hearts and minds instead of carrying around the thoughts and memories of a loving and victorious Jesus. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is meant to cleanse your thinking. This baptism renews your thinking to what Christ has done rather than what you have done. Being immersed in the Spirit of God sears the pain, loss and destruction from your bones and allows new cells to grow, new cells which are the very DNA of Christ himself. When Jesus speaks of renewal, he has a very comprehensive view. And, if you want to revel in the whole truth, he is a lot more literal than we give him credit for.

God did not send the baptism of Jesus, which is the baptism in the Holy Spirit, as a symbol or a representative ritual. This baptism is real and it is meant to accomplish a real transformation in us. The Holy Spirit is a cleansing fire. He burns away all that Jesus overcame. Whatever is in us that is not of Christ and his renewal, the Holy Spirit will sweep away. The sin of your past is dead. Jesus has overcome sin and death in your life. However, the shadows of that sin may remain in your heart and mind. These are the memories, the guilt, the condemnation, and the marred self-image. They are like debris from a volcano, black and lumpy, littering your internal self. The Holy Spirit cleans all of that rubble from your inner self so that fresh, new, healthy tissue can grow. There is life in Jesus so it is imperative that our insides have this regenerative opportunity. This affects your emotional and spiritual life. Does it also impact your physical health? Sure. Jesus came to give you abundant life (John 10: 10). That means renewal in every facet of your being.

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Be immersed in the Spirit of God. Let his cleansing fire fill every cell of your being. He will sear your conscience of the sin stain and fill it with the knowledge of the love of Christ Jesus and him resurrected in glory. Be made whole.

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