Scripture Reading: Numbers 9:15-11:3 / Luke 3:1-22 / Psalm 35:19-28
Sometimes we don’t quite understand what “repentance” really means. Repentance is not like the person who sent the IRS a check for $150.00 with the remark, “If I can’t sleep, I’ll send you the rest.” Repentance is not a partial payback but a complete payback. It is a complete turnaround, turning from one direction to the completely opposite direction.
John the Baptist was a confrontational prophet and didn’t sugar coat repentance. “John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:7,8) Repentance is turning away from sin and turning to God. Paul described it as “Godly sorrow.” (2 Cor. 7:10)
Some have looked upon repentance with distain but repentance is an extension of God’s grace. God is not obligated to receive and forgive us. We do not deserve salvation but God has provided it for us through the redemptive work of Christ. Jesus took upon Himself our sin and paid a price we could never pay. God’s grace isn’t cheap! Repentance unlocks the vault of mercy and God graciously forgives. When we say “no” to ungodliness, worldly passions, disobedience and sin…the Spirit of God begins His transforming work in our lives!
What an exchange program! We give Him our sin and He bestows us with His righteousness. When we are undone, He makes us complete. God removes the darkness, delivers us from bondage, declares us holy and gives us life. As we turn from sin and unto Him, He changes our hearts and our conduct. He makes all things new, producing a deep-seated and lasting change.
Beware of the deceptive trap of remorse: the human feeling that never moves man beyond guilt and regret. Notice the difference between remorse and repentance…
Sin is blamed on others / accountability for sin is assumed by self.
Accompanied by a change of mind / accompanied by a change of direction.
Desire to hold on for own good / desire to turn everything over to God.
Attempts to hide shame / open confession of shame.
Confession is a result of guilt / confession is a result of having offended God.
Emphasis on being forgiven / emphasis on being cleansed.
John’s message of repentance is still needed today. A.W. Tozer wrote, “No man has truly repented until his sin has wounded him, until the wound has broken him and defeated him and taken all the fight and self-assurance out of him and he sees himself as the one who nailed his Savior on the tree.” Repentance is denying the world and dying to self. It also means turning to Christ and living for Him. The message is still the same…give it all (sin) to the One who gave it all (sacrifice) so we can have it all (abundant and eternal life)!