Ignorance is dangerous. I am sorry to say that some contemporary and hugely popular Christian writers hold and teach false doctrine. It may not be obvious in their books or videos, but it is there – generally implicit and surreptitious. According to some (I’m naming no names!), separation from the world is now outdated. Christians are not bound by any law and have liberty to live as they please. Ask them about charismatic sign gifts, a future for Israel or the place and value of the Old Testament. On second thoughts, don’t. Let us not be ignorant of the truth of God’s word, lest we be subverted by error and led into immorality.
Paul was deeply concerned about ignorance. Seventeen times he uses the Greek word agnoeo, variously translated in statements such as ‘know ye not’ or ‘I would not that ye should be ignorant’. The word agnoeo has two shades of meaning. At its most basic it means ‘to be uninformed’ or ‘not to know’ (Gal. 1.22). But more often the word has the idea of ‘paying little attention to’ or ‘failing to grasp the importance and significance of a thing’. That is our problem – hence a few articles on the subject!
Romans 6 speaks of ignorance in matters of doctrine – specifically, baptism. In this section of Romans (5.12-8.39), Paul is dealing with deliverance from sin as a master in the life. The Christian has died to sin – this is an accomplished fact (v.2). It is therefore impossible to allow sin to reign as sovereign of my life. It no longer has any jurisdiction over me. I have been buried and remain in the place of death – I cannot therefore respond to sin or answer its appeal (v.4). Have we forgotten the significance of our water baptism (v.3)? It is a symbol and public declaration of this very truth. At conversion I was fully identified with Jesus Christ, so much so that His death became my death and His burial became my burial. I now belong to Him. He is my new Master to whom I render willing obedience.
This being the case, how can I submit any longer to the claims and desires of sin in my life (v.1)? You’ve heard of the man who was addicted to smoking, alcohol and football? He died. In his coffin, before the burial, he passed by the newsagents and football stadium in the hearse. They had no appeal now. He could not hear the cheers any longer. He was dead. I wonder if we have grasped the significance of this truth. Sin will continue to make its appeal to us, but we must take God at His word and remain practically in the place of death (vv.12-13), unable to respond to the entreaty of sin and attraction of the world (Col. 2.20).
But don’t miss v.4. We have been raised to walk in newness of life; and this life is on an altogether higher plane. We no longer live for the dictates of sin, but rather to bring glory to God (cf. v.10). We should ask ourselves today – does my course of life (actions, thoughts, words, desires, plans) bring glory to God? What could be more important? Let us not be ignorant of the doctrinal significance of baptism.