We find that baptism is full of significance! Paul teaches us that the Christian is supposed to go through a similar experience to what Jesus went through in His death, burial, and resurrection. The difference is that Jesus died physically and actually came back to life; we’re to die to our sin, self, and old ways, and then rise again to live a holy life through the power of Jesus. As Paul said in verses 6-13 of that same chapter, “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. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:6-13)
In other words, baptism is an outward symbol of an inner change and transformation that is supposed to take place beforehand. It’s very important to emphasize the fact that this can only be accomplished through the power and strength of Jesus! It’s not that we have to completely overcome sin before we can be baptized, but we need to repent of our past sins (Acts 2:28) and have our mind made up that we want to overcome sin, as we will allow God to give us the victory.
In the same way that Jesus went down into that grave, we go down into the water of baptism, which represents our death to sin and the burial of our old life. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (1 Corinthians 5:17) Sin needs to “die” and “pass away” in our life and Jesus will take it’s place. This doesn’t mean that we’ll never sin again, because sin has a way of coming back to life, but it does mean, like Paul said, “that we should no longer be slaves of sin” and that we should “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Sin will no longer dominate or control our lives and we will strive to “be holy even as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16), as the Lord works in us “both to will and to do His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)