Column by Sumter Pastor Joey Durham: What can wash away my sins?


Our devotion for today asks, "Can Baptismal Water Cleanse Sin?" My text is Romans 6:3-4, where we read, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (KJV)

The Word of God speaks of two baptisms that a believer will experience. The first baptism has to do with the repentant sinner being baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, we see, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (KJV) This is what happens to everyone that has their sin forgiven when they believe on Christ as Savior. The second baptism is referred to as "believer's baptism" and is simply an outward testimony of what took place in our heart when we believed on our crucified, risen and ascended Savior. This outward testimony involves being completely immersed in water representing the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Many sincere people have been taught that, in addition to believing on the shed blood of Jesus Christ, they must be baptized in water for their sin to be washed away. This is simply not true according to God's Word. Please notice Acts 22:16, where we read, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (KJV) Paul rehearses Ananias, directing him to "be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." The unlearned in reading this would rush to the conclusion that water baptism is the means whereby sins are washed away. However, that is not what this verse says. There are two separate instructions dealing with two separate matters as we examine the grammatical structure of this verse. First, Ananias instructed Paul in "arising to be baptized" and then instructed Paul that his sins would be washed away by "calling on the name of the Lord." The consistent truth in the New Testament for salvation is summed up in Romans 10:13, which states, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (KJV) Also, God's Word declares that only the precious blood of Christ can cleanse sin. In 1 John 1:7, we read, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (KJV) Now, if the blood of Christ cleanseth "all" sin, what sin would be left for the baptistery water to cleanse? The answer is simple in that there is no water anywhere that can wash away even one sin.

Joey Durham is pastor at Open Bible Baptist Church at 180 Old Manning Road in Sumter. You can contact Pastor Durham at or call the church office at (803) 481-9315.