Matt. 3:11 – (John the Baptist speaking) “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mighter than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”
Acts 1:5 “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Note that the word ‘sins’ is plural. Sins plural are the outward acts of disobedience. Most often when the singular word ‘sin’ is used it is referring to the carnal nature, the fallen nature that gives rise to outward acts.)
Acts 8:9-25 tells the story of Simon the Sorcerer, who was converted when Philip preached the Gospel in Samaria: (v13) “Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip.” Peter and John then came to Samaria to witness for themselves the great revival. They prayed that the people might receive the Holy Ghost, (v16) “For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Simon observed that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given. He wanted that power and offered to give the apostles money. Peter gave Simon a stern rebuke and said, (v21-23) “your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
Simon’s spiritual road apparently ended in the water – the water of baptism. It is obvious that he did not utilize the time he continued with Phillip after baptism to go on to a deep inner cleansing.
Read Hebrews 5:12-6:3. Here the scriptures admonish us to move beyond the ‘milk’ of the word and on to ‘strong meat’. We are urged ‘to leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ and go on to perfection. Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and faith toward God. Of the doctrine of baptism…And this will we do, if God permit” (6:1-3).
The road does not end in the water – the water of baptism. This teaching is not to diminish the importance of baptism, but to urge believers on to perfection (maturity). Water baptism is an outward symbol of ‘the remission of sins’. We must then move on unless we, like Simon, have hearts ‘not right in the sight of God.’ We move on beyond the initial principles lest the ‘thought of our heart’ is wrong, and we are held ‘in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity’.
The pursuit of holiness is not optional if we are to see God. Hebrews12:14 says “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see God”. In Matthew 5:8 Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Psalm 24:3&4: “ Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart:”
How does a person proceed to the mature spiritual state of a pure heart? James 4:7b & 8 provides the following instructions; “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double minded.” A sinner is single-minded toward sin. His orientation is to the things of this world. When a person is saved, an upward pull toward the things of God takes hold. Unfortunately, the downward pull of the old nature opposes the upward pull of the Holy Spirit and a double-minded condition is then present. A pure heart gives a believer a single mind to the things of God.
The problem of sin has always been a two-fold problem. First, there is the problem of sins committed. These are acts of disobedience for which we are responsible – we are aware that an action is wrong and we do it anyhow, deliberately choosing to disobey. The repentant sinner cries to God, “forgive me for what I have done”. When a sinner truly repents and believes, the Lord is gracious to forgive.
The second part of the sin problem is concerned with sin inherited, that downward pull to disobedience. We are not personally responsible for its existence in our hearts. It passed on to us because of the fall of man. But when we become aware of the sin nature in us through the teaching in God’s word and the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we are then obligated to avail ourselves to God’s provision. The carnal believer cries to the Lord for relief. The heart cry is different from that of sinners. This cry is for God to cleanse from sin inherited. We cry, ‘Oh, God cleanse me from what I am!’ Calvary provides forgiveness for sins committed and cleansing from sin inherited.
A phrase in the beautiful old hymn “Rock of Ages” expresses it well – “be for sin a double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.” Because the wages of sin is death, forgiveness of sins committed saves us from wrath. We then are candidates for a second work of grace to make us pure, cleansing from inherited sin by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May I ask, “Have you received the infilling of the Holy Spirit since you believed and were baptized?” If not, will you move on to spiritual maturity? Please don’t let your spiritual road end in the water!
PRAYER SEEKING SANCTIFICATION: Lord Jesus, I recognize my need for holiness. Purify me of all that is unlike You, fill me with Your Holy Spirit until I am totally Yours, and set me apart for your purposes from this day forward.
~ Brother Roy