I can’t take any credit for this idea. I got a text from a brother today saying:
I was reading in Acts this morning, and in 2:38 Peter tells them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Remission has a whole new meaning since following your experience with leukemia.
By this, he means that my leukemia is in remission. We don’t know whether it might return, but right now I have no symptoms or effects of leukemia.
Initially, I assumed that this use of "remission" is a great spiritual lesson but that it would have no grammatical validity.
From my Online Bible program, which attributes this definition to Thayer’s Lexicon (I incorrectly attributed this to Strong’s earlier):
- To release from bondage or imprisonment.
- forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty
Okay, I’m going to ignore the temptation to complain about the ridiculous, redundant parentheses in that second definition and stick to my subject matter here. Notice that the first definition of the Greek word aphesis is the release from bondage or imprisonment, not forgiveness.
Now, I’m not denying that Acts 2:38 is talking about forgiveness. Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins. It’s just that it’s not only forgiveness as we are prone to think about forgiveness.
When I became sick with leukemia, I had symptoms. I had ugly lesions on my back; I was short of breath; I couldn’t play sports; I worked slowly and tired quickly.
When my leukemia went into remission, I was able to spend 3 weeks building up stamina so that I could jog, exercise, play sports, work without tiring, and sleep normally. Each day of exercise paid off in additional energy for the next day, the exact opposite of what I experienced under the power of blood cancer.
From experience I can tell you that remission from leukemia is truly a "release from bondage."
I’ll try to keep this short. You can make your own analogies, and you’ll get more from those analogies creating them yourself than if I do it for you. I’ll probably spend all day thinking about this.
The deliverance that Jesus Christ wrought in our lives (for it is Jesus Christ and not baptism that does the work) is truly a remission, in just the same sense that my deliverance from leukemia is a remission. Everything changes. Sin doesn’t have power over us anymore (Rom. 6:14). Where we used to be in bondage to our own desires, unable to overcome them and choose to do the will of God, now we are empowered by the Spirit to actually walk in the will of God that is revealed to us through the Spirit.
Even the exercise analogy applies. Now that the leukemia is in remission, I can exercise and get stronger. Before you were a Christian, your attempts to live in the righteousness of God would just exhaust you. The commands of Jesus Christ were overwhelming; they could not be done except by the rare few, like Mother Theresa or Gandhi.
No longer. Once we made partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:3-4), our obedience to the commands of Christ builds strength. We grow stronger in the Spirit, not exhausted from overwhelming service.
You’re in remission from sin! Get up and run!
If you’re not, you can be. Find someone where you are who is in remission from sin, and ask them how you can come to Christ for his healing.