Why would there be a focus on whether you could sin or not after baptism? What is significant about baptism that would place it in the central position of the Christian’s life?
At Pentecost when Peter preached and the crowd cried out what must we do to be saved Peter told them in Acts 2:38
: repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Repentance would be at turing from their present state of unbelief in Jesus Christ to a belief in Him. Once they expressed a belief in Him then they would be baptized in His name for the forgiveness of their sins. Right there is why baptism is the central point in the Christians life. Baptism would be the first act they take once they turn in faith to inaugurate their Christian life.
Also since baptism would be a sign of the forgiveness of their sins it would be the central point in their ongoing Christian life of their relationship with sin and it’s consequences.
Let’s think it through: if they were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and they sin after they are baptized what are the consequences? Can they be forgiven again? Do they need to be forgiven again? DO they need to be baptized again? Have they lost their faith? These are genuine questions based on the original purpose of their baptism which is for the forgiveness of their sins.
Article of Religion XVI would indicate that they can be forgiven if they repent of their sin. There is no need to be rebaptized for this is a once in a lifetime act. Here’s the full text of the Article:
XVI Of Sin after Baptism
Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
The Article acknowledges that sin after baptism is pardonable and the Christian is to be granted repentance if he repents. That’s exceptional good news. For if the Christian lost their salvation if they sinned after baptism that would mean they would returned to a condemned state forever unable to be reconciled to God.
The teachers in the church who say there is no forgiveness of sins after baptism are therefore condemned for this teaching as are those who teach that the Christian does not sin after baptism.
There are two points to discuss here:
1) Christians are justified or declared righteous by God by their faith in Jesus Christ. This declaration means that in God’s eternal court the Christian is no longer a sinner but righteous as He is righteous forever.
But righteous humans do sin and an allowance is made for their sins if they will confess their sins and repent. Repent always mean that you ask for forgiveness of your sins and that your intention is to not sin again. Jesus told the woman at the tell to “Go and sin no more”. He never condones sin, He died for the forgiveness of our sins and as High Priest leads us from sin into righteousness. Therefore repentance is not only an admission of wrong doing but a pledge to never sin again.
2) Christians at baptism do not become sinless. Paul explains the phenomena of salvation in the book of Romans. The primary emphasis today is that in Christian salvation the Christian receives a regenerated or divine soul (inner man – the unseen part of a man) yet his outer man (called the ‘old man’) continues to contain sin.
Let’s see if we can explain this: prior to baptism the whole man, soul and outer body is consumed and contaminated with sin. Upon baptism the soul becomes divine yet the ‘old man’ continues to be contaminated. This dualistic really creates the conflict Paul writes about as he says the flesh, old man, wars against the ‘new man’, the soul.
Paul says in Romans 7 he does what he doesn’t want to do and does what he doesn’t want to do. It’s an explanation of this ongoing conflict. This is one reason why Christians receive a glorified body in their resurrection. This body would be on without any trace of sin.
You might ask how does sin then get removed from the old man. Paul writes in Romans 8:13 that the deeds of the flesh are mortified by the Holy Spirit. IN other words one role of the Holy Spirit is to ‘crucify’ your old man so he won’t sin again. Yet there is no earthly provision for the extraction of sin from the old man who will always maintain sin within it. Almost like a living corpse. The sickness that killed the remains in the body even though the body is dead.