I was baptized when I was a baby, and again when I accepted the Lord into my heart when I was 21. My question is this: My 20’s were a rough time with a lot of partying and sin, I feel like I turned my back on God when I backslid. I woke up (thank you God) in my 30’s and truly have turned my life over to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Do I need to be re-baptized again?
Concerned Christian

Dear Concerned Christian,

The answer revolves around whether or not you were truly a Christian in the decade of your twenties. Were you truly a follower of Christ, a born again, child of God who “backslid” away from God? On the other hand, were your sin and debauchery symptoms that you were not a Christian at all? Were you spiritually aborted? Did you really “accept the Lord into your heart when you were 21?” Paul wrote that we are wise if we evaluate our own salvation so that we don’t deceive ourselves: “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment” (1 Corinthians 11:31).

One of the best tests to determine whether or not we truly surrendered to Christ was delineated by John: “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:3-6).

If you truly were a Christian then you were “backsliding.” Jeremiah described God’s backsliding Israelites returning to Him and begging for restoration: “Although our sins testify against us, O LORD, do something for the sake of your name. For our backsliding is great; we have sinned against you” (Jeremiah 14:7). Ezekiel described God’s delight in cleansing His backsliding people and restoring their relationship: “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 37:23).

Backsliding occurs when a Christian walks in sin and disobedience and therefore lives a lifestyle which is embarrassing to the Name of God. But, backsliders eventually wise up and return to the Heavenly Father.

As you come before God in prayer and meditation listen for Him to speak in your inner-most spirit. If you sense Him telling you that you were unsaved during your 20s, then by all means proceed with baptism as symbolically declaring your surrender to the resurrected Christ. Immersion in and then out of the baptism waters is a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Baptism also symbolizes the washing away of your sins.

On the other hand, if you sense God telling you that you truly were a Christian, then don’t worry about rebaptism. Continue to thank God for restoring your backsliding and enjoy living the blessed life God in Christ has in store for you.

If, perhaps you can’t discern exactly what God is saying, then there is no harm in being rebaptized. I have baptized many backsliding Christians who’ve returned to Christ and wanted to reaffirm their surrender to Christ by declaring their faith through baptism.

Well, Concerned Christian, I hope my thoughts are helpful as you continue you spiritual growth.

By the way, I have written two other answers that you might find helpful and interesting. My answer entitled, “Spiritual Abortion,” may give you more insight to this particular concept. You also might find helpful my answer to the question, “Water Baptism: Immersion or Sprinkling.”

May God bless you. May you now continue to live in wholehearted devotion to Christ.

Love, Roger

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