The second step of the Great Commission is to baptize the disciples we have made. Baptism does not make disciples. We are commanded to go and make disciples, and then baptize “them” (disciples) in the name of the Father, son, and Holy Spirit. Merely placing someone under the water, when they have no understanding, does not give them the new mind. Jesus “made and baptized more disciples than John” (John 4:1-3). He made disciples by teaching them that they should grow to be like their Master (Luke 6:40). We are commanded to do the same thing. Then why did our Lord command baptism?
The first step in the great commission is to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19) – disciples who are determined to grow to become like their master (Luke 6:40) in mind (Phil. 2:5) and heart (Matt. 11:28-30). Our Father is satisfied if we become like Christ in mind and heart (Matt. 10:24,25), because having the mind and heart of Christ is to have the complete love with all of its parts (1 Cor. 13:4-8), which surely will cause the mouth (Matt. 12:34) and the body (James 3:2-5) to speak and do all of the will of God (Acts 13:22). The first step in the great commission will turn us toward the purpose of God. After we are turned to do the purpose of God we must have help and direction to fulfill that purpose. This is the reason for the second command of the Great Commission.
Some believe that forgiveness of sins is all that is needed, and thus conclude that growing in the heart of Christ is superfluous and unnecessary. They imagine that 1) if sin separates us from God, then 2) removing the sin will unite us with God. This is a major misunderstanding. It is a fact that “. . . out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). Judas had an evil heart. Whether Judas’ sins were forgiven or not, he still had an evil heart and out of the abundance of that heart, his mouth was going to speak. If God forgave his sins a million times, he would still have the same heart. He would still speak the same evil words. Sin is a matter of God’s record. Sin is transgression of God’s law. Once a man transgresses God’s law, it becomes a matter of history. God puts that sin on his record. God can forgive that sin, and blot those sins out of his book. All that takes place in God’s book. It is a matter of record, not of heart. The real key to controlling the body is the heart of man. We are not belittling the Lord’s part in forming the heart, but emphasizing the need to deal with our hearts, not just our bodies.
Whether the sins have been forgiven or not, the heart remains the same, and produces the same sins (Matt. 15:19), unless or until it is purified. We are commanded to purify our hearts (James 4:8). “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2,3). God also promises to help. He promises that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to 1) forgive us our sins, and 2) to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). These are two separate actions. He will blot our sins from his record and cleanse our hearts. Consider what God’s cleansing will do. Cleansing of the heart will stop the sin in the future. We need not think that the promise to forgive and cleanse us is based on mere faith only or confession only. We know that we are required to have faith and patience and many other things which are also a part of this cleansing or purging (Heb. 12:5-11). God does his part when we do our part. Our sins can be forgiven, but unless our hearts are changed, they will continue to be the source of the same words and actions. Forgiveness of sins is essential, but it is not the only essential part. Until that evil heart is cleansed, it will continue to produce evil words and deeds. The key is not only forgiveness of sins, but the power of a pure heart (Matt. 5:8).
Our master describes the power of the heart. We understand that the Lord is the one who is ultimately in charge of everything, however, in this discussion we want to see the power that the Lord had placed in the heart of man. The abundance of the heart controls the tongue. Jesus said: “. . .out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34-35). The words that we speak come forth from the heart. Only what comes out of the mouth defiles the man. What goes into his mouth never defiles him (Matt. 15:10, 11, 15-20). What comes out of the mouth comes out of the abundance of the heart (Matt. 12:34). We must conclude there is great power in the heart. By controlling the tongue, we control more than the tongue.
The tongue controls the body. Just as the rudder of a ship, or the bridle of a horse controls the ship and the horse, so the tongue controls the body (James 3:3-5). It is not possible to tame the tongue (James 3:8), but it is possible to bridle it. In fact if we do not bridle our tongue our religion is in vain (James 1:26). Self-will can never bridle the tongue, but if we work together with God to form the heart in the image of Christ, the heart will bridle the tongue. The kind of heart we have determines the words we speak. For example, if we have the heart of Satan, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak Satanic words (Matt. 12:34). If we grow fully into the complete heart of Christ, out of the abundance of the good heart good words will come. If we are half like Satan and half like Christ we will have mixed words – good and evil – coming out of our mouths. The solution to controlling our bodies is to grow fully into the image of Christ. With the heart of Christ, we will speak and do only good no matter what bodies we will have. The heart will control this physical body and also the new spiritual body we are given in the resurrection.