In holy Baptism, O Christians, we are renewed for the holy
Christian new life, and taking off the old man we put on the new spiritual man.
Setting aside the evil character of the old Adam we receive the good character
of the new, Jesus Christ, and so we are made a new creature, according to the
teaching of the Apostle, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new
creature" (2 Cor. 5:17).
Hence holy Baptism is called the "washing
of regeneration" (Tit. 3:5), for before Baptism we were dead, killed
by sin, and not capable of any good deed (for what can a dead man do?) and so
before God it was as if we had no being, for only he who is dead to sin lives
to God. But in holy Baptism we are made alive, and having renounced sin, we are
renewed to a holy and pious life. Every Christian has two births, the old which
is fleshly, and the new which is spiritual. He has the old birth from his
parents, "For I was conceived in iniquities, and in sin did my mother
bear me" (LXX-Ps. 50:7 [KJV-Ps. 51:5]). The second birth he has is
spiritual, and thereby he is born anew to the spiritual, holy, and heavenly
life, and he receives it from Christ. For this reason a Christian is named
after Christ, for one is called by the name of him from whom he is born.
To the fleshly birth belong pride,
high-mindedness, haughtiness, conceit, self-importance, and disdain for
neighbor. To the spiritual birth belong humility, deprecation and negation of
one's own self. To the fleshly birth belongs unbelief, to the spiritual faith.
To the fleshly birth belongs recklessness, to the
spiritual fear of God. To the fleshly birth belong recalcitrance,
insubordination, disobedience and opposition to God, to the spiritual
submission, subordination, and obedience. To the fleshly belongs ingratitude,
to the spiritual thankfulness to God.
To the fleshly belongs indifference to the honor
and glory of God, to the spiritual the desire and care for the glory of God.
To the fleshly belongs hope in one's own self, in one's honor, riches, in one's
own strength, in man and in every creature, to the spiritual belongs hope in
God alone. To the fleshly belong anger, wrath, malice and the desire to be
avenged in word and deed, to the spiritual meekness, innocence and
long-suffering. To the fleshly belongs immoderate self-love, to the spiritual
love of God and man.
To the fleshly belong miserliness, avarice,
mercilessness and care only for one's own self, to the spiritual mercy, love
of generosity and compassion, and helping one's neighbor. To the fleshly belong
envy and all its consequent evil, to the spiritual love and compassion for a
neighbor's misfortunes and joy over his happiness.
To the fleshly belong guile, slyness, falsehood,
cunning and hypocrisy, to the spiritual simple-heartedness and truth. To the
fleshly belong theft, robbery and every injustice, to the spiritual justice.
To the fleshly belong impurity, drunkenness, incontinence or lustful desire, to
the spiritual purity, chastity, sobriety and continence.
To the fleshly belong the love of this world, lust
of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life, and worldly wisdom, to
the spiritual disdain of the world and all its vanity, and the wisdom of
heavenly and eternal good things. In a word, to the fleshly birth belongs evil
habit, and to the spiritual virtue.
So we see what are the fruits of the fleshly
birth, and those of the spiritual. Holy Scripture, when it commands us to keep
away from sin, commands us to keep away from the fruits of the old and fleshly
birth. But when it teaches us to do good, it teaches us to show the fruits of
the new birth: "Turn away from evil, and do good" (LXX-Ps.
33:15 [KJV-Ps. 34:14]). "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ
depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 2:19).
Beloved Christians! Glory be to God. We are born
again and renewed in holy Baptism as we said above. Let us consider whether we
show the fruits of the new birth, and whether we live as the new birth
requires. For birth is not something dead, but living; it must therefore show
fruits in conformity with itself. Let us also therefore show the fruits of our
new birth, lest we appear barren before our Lord and hear His terrible words, "Verily
I say unto you, I know you not" (Mt. 25:12).
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