What Does Repentance Look Like?
Sometimes you just have to knock down the front door and come in. There are some individuals who are in the world that if you talk nice, kind, and gently to they will respond. But there there is another group of people who you just gotta kick the door down and tell them as it is. I think this message today is for those individuals.
I. The Need to Repent.
A. Brood of Vipers?
Why would John seemingly attack those who came to hear him preach?
Because he was addressing the sin (Pride) that was in their life. Pride has a way of making us think that we are alright when we are all wrong.
They thought that they were straight, but they were crooked just like a snake.
Sometimes in order for us to be saved God has to deal with where we came from and what we may currently be in. This is what John the Baptist does, he addresses their past and he addresses their present. Sometimes when you address these things it doesn’t look pretty and reason being is because sin is not pretty.
B. Who warned you of the coming wrath.
C. You need to repent and be born again to advert this coming wrath.
John’s purpose of preaching in the wilderness was to “Prepare the way of the Lord’s coming”. His mission was to preach repentance, the remission of sins, and water baptism. Judgement would soon arrive and the only thing that could avert that judgement is to repent and turn to God. Only through repentance and water baptism could the Jews be ready to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.
This same formula applies even 2,000 plus years later! Judgement is coming, but God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance!
II. What Repentance Really Looks Like.
A. Repentance is not remorse or an apology.
1. It is in our human nature to apologize to those in whom we have offended.
2. You can apologize to a person but that doesn’t always mean that you feel sorry or didn’t mean to do what you did.
3. When one has truly apologized, they try to right the wrong that has been done. They strive not to offend any more! God is not so much interested in what you have coming out of your mouth.....he is concerned about what is in you heart. Believe it or not, you can repent without opening up your mouth. Why because God sees what is in the heart of man. When you make up in your mind that I’m going to repent there is a turning away from that which offends God, that is against the will of God, and it is doing what is right in the eyes of God. In other-words there is an cliche that we use from time to time “Don’t talk about it, be about it”.
B. When we have truly repented our lifestyle changes.
True repentance has to involve turning to God.
True repentance has to involve surrendering of oneself to God! Why? Because it is not in your human nature to do the will of God! Example: Love your enemies....it’s not in your human nature to love, it is not in your human nature to forgive, it is not in your human nature to deny yourself and seek the things of God.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
Even the Apostle Paul recognized the fact that within himself, within his human nature, nothing good resides. So now there is tension here, there is a battle that is going on. I believe that all people in some form or fashion desire to do good. If you have some form of knowledge of God, if you believe that God exists, I believe that you have a desire to do right by God. I believe that every man, woman, boy, and girl that believes in God believes that there is a heaven to go to after we are done with this life. However the problem is that your human nature has a tendency of messing things up for us and when we would do good, evil is always present. Paul describes this as another power within us warring against our mind that make us a slave to sin. I’m going to tell you a secret, even after God saves you and fills you with the Holy Ghost, that power is still present! The difference is that, the power of sin (should) no longer have dominion over us.
When you live in sin, you are a slave to sin! I have never in my life heard of nowhere in history of a slave that wanted to remain a slave when he or she has an opportunity for freedom! When you are bound by sin you have no freedom, you have no choice in your actions, sin is just like a chain that makes you the property of Satan! Paul says “O wretched man that I am”
Those of us who are African-Americans by heritage, should be able to identify with the fact that our ancestors went through immense suffering, persecution, and degradation. It left our ancestors in a state of misery! The Apostle Paul uses the word wretched in a sense for the readers of his epistle to visualize the state of sin in an individuals life. When you are bound by sin and when sin separates you from God you are in a state of wretchedness/misery. Paul says “who shall deliver me from the body of this death” or “who will free me from the life that is dominated by sin and death”. Don’t you know that sin produces death! But I’m so glad that Jesus said “I’ve come that you might have life and life abundantly”.
C. Repentance is your key to freedom!
You cannot deliver yourself, you cannot 12 step-program yourself, you cannot live good enough by yourself the only answer to the dilemma of sin, the only way that you can gain your freedom is by Jesus Christ! Faith in Jesus, faith in his sacrifice, faith in that his blood is more than sufficient for the forgiveness of sin, repentance of sin, water-baptism, and Holy Ghost regeneration is the key you need to be free from sin!
i. I’m tired of hearing these so called preachers give people an excuse for living in a perpetual cycle of sin.
ii. Yes we are human and yes we make mistakes and no we are not perfect, but the fact remains that Jesus died and shed his blood so that we can be free from sin! Jesus did not die and shed his blood so that you could be stuck in the repeat cycle. He died and shed his blood to give you victory in every aspect of life! His blood is powerful enough to release you from any vice, from any addiction, from any habit, from any lifestyle, from any sin! His blood is powerful enough to heal of any sickness, to release you from any mental illness, to heal any traumatic experience, his blood still works!
D. When we have been “born again” we reflect the image of God.
When you have truly been born again you should not reflect your old sinful lifestyle, there should be a newness reflected in you because God’s spirit has taken up residence inside of you!
1. Nicodemus was a Jewish religious leader who came to Jesus by night to try to get in good with him. He gave Jesus praise and honored him, but Jesus told him “unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God”.
2. When you have been born again, you learn to walk a spiritual walk, you learn to talk a spiritual talk, you learn to behave in a godly spiritual manner.
3. In order for you to be born again you must be born of the water (baptism) and of the spirit (Holy Spirit). E. Repentance is your key to freedom!
III. Religious Observances Are Not Enough.
A. Many of the Jews were religious and thought because that they were the children of God that they were fine in the eyes of God.
B. Many people today think that they are alright simply because of their religious observances (i.e. prayers, reading scriptures, even church attendance).
C. God is calling for more than observances, God is calling for repentance!
IV. The Coming Judgement.
A. Judgement is coming. When God created humanity, humanity was created to reflect the image of God.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
You were created to represent God in the earth. You were not created to simply have a good time in life. You were not created to simply get a good education, get married, have children, have a good life and then die. You were created to be the expressed image of God in the earth! You were created to have dominion in the earth! You were created to worship and serve God and be the children of God!
When we fail to fulfill our purpose in life John says “Even now the ax of God’s judgement is poised, ready to server the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire”.
The fruit that John is talking about is the fruit that is produced by the Spirit of God that abides in every born again believer! It is the fruit of repentance, it is God’s spirit residing in every repentant and baptized believer!
B. God is giving you a chance, He’s been merciful unto you, He has allowed you to do your thing and has held judgement back from you (Luke 13:7-9).
Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’ “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’ ”
C. It’s time to stop running now (Jeremiah 2:25).
When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’
God asked the question “when will you stop running?”. He also says “When will you stop panting after other gods?” Anything that you place above God has become your idol god. God has been chance after you and you’ve been running away from Him and God just wants to know how much longer will you continue to run from me? How much longer will you continue to refuse my calling to you? When you ignore the call of God you are telling God essentially the very thing that Jeremiah wrote about by saying “Save your breath, I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now”. I can’t give up drugs now, I can’t give up the drinking now, I can’t give up the smoking now, I can’t give up the illegal relationship now, I can’t give up the sin now because I love it more than I love you.
Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.”
Even at your worst I need for you to know that God loves you! God’s love is an unfailing love!
V. Salvation is Offered by Jesus Christ.
Prove by the way that you live that you have repented!
Don’t say that I have religion because religion is not enough....you need Jesus and you need the spirit of God to take residence inside of you. Don’t say
Let the fruits of repentance be manifested in your life. Repentance and water baptism has always went hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. If Jesus was baptized (he who knew no sin) then you must be baptized. When we are baptized, we are burying our old man in a liquid grave and when we come out of the water we come out walking in the newness of life.