Repentance is the first step of becoming a follower of Jesus. To repent is to turn from something to another thing. We turn from going our own way and ignoring our sin (the things we do, think and say that are wrong) towards God.
It’s a personal decision recognising that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It’s also a practical step involving a change in thinking which leads to a change of behaviour. That initial turning to Christ when you became a Christian was repentance. The Christian life is one of constantly transforming our minds (Romans 12:2), which is the essence of repentance. In other words, I used to think it was okay to do that, now I don’t! It’s not what God wants for my best.
Today’s passage is instructions that John the Baptist gave to people who were repenting and getting baptised ready for Jesus to come. They were exhorted to produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
John let the crowds know what being repentant looks like – sharing food and clothing with the needy, not ripping people off and not using your power and position to extort others. In other parts of the New Testament people got rid of their idols and occult paraphernalia and payed back stolen money. Those are all outward examples of the heart change that is repentance. In todays’ reading it is clear that this is hard to do in the natural – we need to be baptised in the Holy Spirit – the Spirit who gives us the power to be holy.
Pray: Is there anything you need to turn from? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what he wants you to put to death.
Recommended extra reading
The Life You've Always Wanted (John Ortberg)
The Life You've Always Wanted by popular pastor and bestselling author John Ortberg reveals the God you've longed to encounter: a Father head-over-heals in love with you and committed to your highest joy.