Repentance includes more than just the confession of sin. This word means not only a change of mind but a new direction of the will, an altered purpose and attitude. The Jews emphasized repentance as a necessary prerequisite to salvation by the Messiah. The rabbis had a saying that “if the Israelites would repent for one day, the Messiah son of David would come immediately.” According to their teachings, repentance included sorrow for sin, restitution wherever possible, and the decision not to repeat the sin.
But the sinner need not wait till he is perfect to get baptized. It is the Lord who will help him grow through the long life process of sanctification.
Baptism is similar to marriage. When a man decides to unite with his bride, he disconnects himself from other love relationships and vows to be faithful to his wife. Likewise, a believer disconnects himself from his sinful ways and unites with the Lord by baptism. But that does not mean that every man has to be perfect before marriage. The perfect relationship between the husband and the wife will be realized as they grow day by day in understanding and love. The believer, likewise, will daily grow and learn of His Master through the study of the word and prayer (John 15:7).
It is the grace of God that will bring the fruits of the Spirit to blossom in the believer’s life “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6). God gives the victory over sin (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Baptism by itself doesn’t bring perfection. It is the daily walk with the Lord through study of His Word, prayer and witnessing that brings the transformation (John 15:7). And the believer after baptism may still have the need to repent from time to time “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.
In His service,