The Perfect Tree
Does anyone remember going Christmas tree shopping as a child? Regardless if we went into the woods to chop one down, a parking lot bursting with pre-cuts, or to the mall for the latest artificial model, we can all agree on one thing—the tree had to be perfect. (Unfortunately, dad’s idea of a perfect tree–combined with the perfect price, generally resulted in an inferior conifer).
Peter understood the significance of choosing the perfect tree, for he believed that what Christ Jesus did on the tree—the cross of Calvary was fully sufficient for all sin and thus provided a clean conscience. In darkest contrast, Judas did not believe, although the option for him to choose sensibly was there. Instead his guilty conscience led him to a tree imperfect. Judas was hung-up with guilt.
What Jesus did once and for all on the cross not only cleanses us of all our sin, it also cleanses our consciences. Does that mean we never recall the rotten things of our pasts? No, of course not—it is those very things we share in our testimonies that give God the glory and what Peter is indirectly doing here. The difference is the guilt is gone; the sins of our past now represent the bumpy road that brought us to salvation in Christ Jesus. Without faith, that road just serves to remind us of our guilt and our shame (and likely) the path we currently tread.
When we allow ourselves to be baptized, essentially we are declaring by faith that what Christ did on the cross is sufficient, that the blood of Jesus cleanses (not the water), and satan (and his demonic henchmen) have no power over us…A Christian can never truthfully say, “The devil made me do it.”
But I Still Feel Guilty
Revelation 12:10 reminds us that satan goes around night and day ‘accusing’ us of our sin. Take note; ‘his lips are moving and that’s all’—satan and his demons have been made powerless by the blood of Christ—talking is all they can do in this regard. If you struggle to know the difference between the voice of evil and the voice of God, know that conviction from the Holy Spirit draws us closer to the Lord and condemnation from the enemy drives us further away. Your baptism experience is retroactive.
…How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14