Thursday, December 15, 2016

Repentance and Fruit

Chuckle: A police officer was escorting a prisoner to jail when the officer's hat blew off down the sidewalk. "Would you like me to get it for you?" asked the prisoner. "You must think I'm an idiot!" said the officer. "You just wait here and I'll get it."
Quote: "It can take less than a minute to commit a sin. It takes not as long to obtain God's forgiveness. Penitence and amendment should take a lifetime." --Hubert van Zeller

"Prove by (your fruit) the way you live that you have really (repented) turned from your sins and turned to God. . . But someone is coming soon . . . who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 3:8, 11 NLT).
First, we must repent of our sins and ask God's forgiveness when we pray to receive Christ as Savior. But then we need to live in a continuous state of confession and repentance if we are to please God. We can never live close to Him without repentance. We can't continue to have unconfessed sin in our lives and still walk in fellowship with Him.
I think many have a misconception about repentance. It is not just being sorry for our actions, although that is a major component of repentance. But genuine repentance from sin will produce a change in our lives that will result in our producing desirable fruit of righteousness for God's kingdom. It results in a change of heart -- a change in behavior -- change of direction -- a 180 degree turn around in the way we live.
However, we can never achieve the lasting change in our behavior that God requires by our own strength, desire, and diligence. We must have the power of the Holy Spirit whom Christ has given us. John promised that Jesus would (give us) baptize us with the Holy Spirit. This looked ahead to Pentecost (Acts 2) when the Holy Spirit would be sent by Jesus to indwell and empower His followers. Only the Holy Spirit can change us from the inside out. If we truly repent, we will be cooperating with the Spirit to bring about the kind of change God requires of us.
In our passage, John the Baptist was saying to the people that they could prove they had really turned away from sin only by the way they lived. God looks beyond our words and focuses on our actions that accompany them. We prove we have had a change of heart by the way we live.
John baptized people as an outward sign that they had repented and desired to live in a way that would please God. Baptism was an outward sign of commitment; but for that commitment to produce fruit the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit was required. If we know Christ as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit lives in us, and He stands ready to empower us for righteous living if only we yield our wills to His. If we are living in the Spirit, He will convict us of sin, forgive us, and give us the strength to overcome it.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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