Baptism is a dangerous thing. Yes, you read that correctly. But give me a chance to explain. Think about it. What happens in baptism? A person becomes a child of God. That’s a good thing, mind you—a great thing. It’s a gift beyond comparison, one we could never earn on our own merit. But there’s a catch. Someone isn’t happy about this gift, and that someone wants to take that gift away. He will stop at nothing to steal that gift right out from under you. That “someone” is Satan.
I’ve heard it said before that once a person has been baptized it is as if the devil paints a bright red target on their back. That baptized person is now the target of all Satan’s attacks. Satan doesn’t need to concern himself with unbelievers. He already has them. But he desperately wants to lure Christians away from the one true faith into his kingdom of darkness, so he starts right when a person is baptized and keeps at it unrelentingly.
Look at what happened with Jesus. Mark 1:9-11 records Jesus’ own baptism, and verses 12 and 13 record the following: “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Even Jesus was tempted immediately following His baptism, and it’s a pattern the devil continues even today. As C.F.W. Walther says, “At Baptism, we all vowed to renounce the devil and all his works and to fight against him. As Christ was led immediately after His Baptism into the wilderness to be tempted, so all who are baptized into Christ Jesus should expect to receive the same treatment.” (God Grant It: Daily Devotionals From C.F.W. Walther, p 246)
Depressing? Not at all, because Jesus also gives us a mighty weapon to use against Satan—the Word of God. Every time Satan tempted Jesus, He responded the same way: “It is written…” Jesus had only to wield the Word of God rightly against Satan, and Satan could not withstand. It’s a simple and effective weapon, yet not all who are baptized have this weapon in their arsenals. I can think of a number of families who have had their children baptized, never to be seen in church again. Parents, take note. This is very, very dangerous. The same note of caution that is spoken at weddings could well be spoken of baptism as well—Baptism is not to be entered into inadvisably or lightly. This is a big deal, folks. If you baptize your child, you had best make sure you are also doing all you can to train them up in the fear and knowledge of God. Teach them, as the baptismal liturgy says, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. Place in their hands the knowledge of Holy Scripture. That’s the only defense they have (or need) against the evil foe. Please make sure you’re equipping them to withstand the attacks of Satan. Don’t let them go unarmed into the fight.
So, yes. Baptism is a dangerous thing. It opens you to all the attacks of the devil. But the Word of God is strong enough to overpower him. Jesus has overcome Satan for you and for all who are baptized. And that’s a huge relief. We just had our newest baby baptized on Sunday. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.