When We Are Tempted to Sin, Look to Our Baptism

When we are tempted to sin, to what or to whom do we look? The standard answer, which is appropriate, is Christ. We look to him, the great healer and physician, the alpha and omega of our faith, by faith. That lens through which we look to Jesus (i.e., faith) is that intangible reality whereby we receive and rest upon Christ alone for our salvation. Unfortunately, however, our faith is not always strong. It wanders during times of temptation. 

I am sure we all desire to use our faith to look to Jesus during those times, but sometimes our faith is weak. Additionally, during those times of temptation we cannot see our faith nor observe the Christ of our faith, which can be a problem. It might be easier if we could purchase two pounds of faith at the grocery store and place it on our dining room table to remind us of the reality to which it points, but we cannot. It might also be nice if someone could pour a cup of faith for us to jar our minds back to the reality of a crucified and risen savior, especially during times of temptation to sin, but that is not going to happen.

Thankfully, God understands the weakness of our faith. It is an intangible reality that wavers like the waters of the ocean. It sways like the wind during the spring time. Therefore, due to such inconsistencies, the Lord God almighty provided us with tangible realities that grant an objective meaning free from oscillation. In particular, one of two corporeal realities the Lord gave was baptism.

According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, baptism is "a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord's" (WSC 94). This is the objective meaning of baptism. It does not change.

What does this have to do with temptation to sin?

When we are tempted to sin, look to our baptism. Our baptism provides our identity. In the midst of temptation, our faith can waver to the point of feeling nonexistent. It will, then, be extremely difficult to use that same mediocre faith to trust in and rely on the promises of God free from anything tangible. 

Our baptism declares that God has placed his triune name upon us and we are his. He is for us and not against us. In baptism, we are ingrafted into Christ and made a partaker of the benefits of a gracious covenant. 

According to the Westminster Larger Catechism, baptism also announces the "remission of sins by [Christ's] blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life" (WLC 165).

This is who you are. Although the strength of your faith may vary, the announcement of who you are in Christ, as depicted by your baptism, does not. In fact, one of the blessings of baptism is that its reality is demonstrated tangibly. That is, although you cannot see your faith (you may observe the product of it), you can see and feel your baptism. Allow the certainty of the streams of water poured over your head remind you of the certain and sure promises of Christ your savior and your identity in him! 

This ought to help you during times of temptation. When the trees of temptation are standing around you, it is hard to recognize the streams of faith that should lead you out of the forest to Christ. Therefore, look to your baptism. The promises are God are tangibly revealed therein. You felt it; you touched it. And just as sure as you felt those waters of baptism, remember what God did for you and has said about you. When you are tempted to sin, therefore, look to your baptism.

But, pastor, I have a question. Doesn't looking to your baptism require faith to believe the promises signified therein during times of temptation?

Until next time...