"All newborn soldiers of the Crucified, Bear on their brows the seal of Him who died. Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim. Till all the world adore His sacred Name."
"I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Those are words to celebrate, words that set the angels to rejoicing and, as they say, "Them's fighting words." The newborn soldier of the Crucified—child or adult—is sealed with the sign of the cross on the forehead and heart, marked as one who has been redeemed by Christ Jesus.
In the baptismal service, the newborn soldiers turn from all previous allegiance, renouncing the devil and all his works and ways. As faithful soldiers do, the baptized, empowered by the Holy Spirit, confess new allegiance to the Triune God, whose Name His soldiers now bear. Baptized, we are mustered into a fighting force, the "church militant," as the church on earth is sometimes called. The cross that marks us as the redeemed also becomes a lifelong cross to bear as we follow in the footsteps of the Savior, whose precious blood cleanses us from sin. The cross is the sign of our salvation and bearing that cross we engage in battle. The devil we renounced at Baptism is now our enemy, an adversary who "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8b).
No newborn soldier is sent into battle unarmed. In the water and Word of Baptism, we "cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:12b). The righteousness of Christ in which we are now clothed covers us like a breastplate, like the body armor of a modern warrior. Our salvation is a protective helmet and the gift of faith shields us from the doubts, fears, and accusations the enemy hurls at us. Satan is a defeated, yet still dangerous and frustrated opponent, who rages against us as he once raged—in futility—against our Lord.
We are tempted by the enemy, and at times we listen to the enemy, and our allegiance wavers as we stumble. But we are marked by the cross and, repenting of our sins, we turn from our sins, and we are strengthened again for battle with the forgiveness that our Savior won for us on the cross. As newborn soldiers, we continue to practice and grow in the use of our armor and weapons, especially in the use of the sharp, double-edged sword that is the Word of God. It is the weapon that Jesus used so effectively against the enemy, a weapon now placed in our hands by the Holy Spirit.
Dressed in the armor of God, armed with Word, as soldiers and witnesses for Christ crucified, we lift high the cross, praying that others will hear and believe and join the ranks of the redeemed.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You have redeemed us and armed us in Your service. We pray that by the Spirit's power the Gospel will speed on and triumph. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Lift High the Cross," which is found on page 837 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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