“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:24-26)

Baptism is not only important because it is commanded by Christ, a part of the church’s fulfilling of Christ’s Great Commission, and a public profession of our faith in Christ, but also because it serves as an outward picture of the inward change that Christ has wrought in our lives.

The first thing baptism pictures is the washing away of our sins. It is this symbolism that is best known about and most often associated with baptism. According to the Westminister Confession, “Baptism is a…sign…of remission of sins.” Notice, it is merely a “sign” of the “remission of sins.” It is not the waters of baptism that wash away our sins, but the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7). As Robert Lowry so aptly put it in his beloved hymn:

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Oh! precious is the flow

That makes me white as snow;

Not other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

In his teaching on baptism, the Apostle Peter is careful to point out that baptism’s relevance is not in the washing “away of the filth of the flesh,” but in that which it symbolizes—“a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21). How do we get a good conscience toward God? According to the Book of Hebrews, it is by having our conscience “sprinkled” with “the blood of Christ,” which alone can cleanse our conscience “from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:13-15).

Baptism’s significance is not found in any literal washing of ourselves. Instead, it is found in its symbolic significance. It is a sign of both the cleansing of our conscience and the washing away of our sins by the blood of Jesus!

“That is the best baptism that leaves the man cleanest inside.” (Henry Ward Beecher)