In our daily meditation yesterday, we talked about John the Baptist preceding the ministry of Christ by calling Israel to repentance. Prophesying of what the forerunner of Jesus would say and do, Isaiah the prophet said, “Prepare the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. 4Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground will become smooth, and the rugged land a plain” (Isaiah 40:3-4).
John's calling to preach repentance was one of getting the roadblocks in people’s hearts out of the way of the Messiah. Not only can our inner mind and spirit become corrupted by images we have seen and felt from the media, but also corruption comes from the outflow of the sinful life we inherited from Adam. Jesus warned that spiritual defilement was within the core of a man’s being. He said, 18"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20These are the things which defile the man” (Matthew 15:18-20). This message of repentance offended the Pharisees and Israel's leaders. They didn't see their need for sorrow and turning from sin, and guess what, most of the Church does not either. John preached that there should be changes of behavior that are the result of genuine repentance:
8"Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9"Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:3-9 Emphasis mine).
Being water–baptized does not change our hearts; it is just an outward symbol of an inward change. The inner change will have a lifestyle change accompanying it. Things will be different on the outside because of the change that has occurred on the inside. True repentance will bring sorrow over sin as well as a departure from a lifestyle of sin. Our desires are changed when we receive new life in Christ. Why would we want to stay chained to our sin when we are set free to live in the freedom that Christ died to give us?
What is meant by the term “the ax is already laid at the root of the trees?” (Luke 3:9). John gave a vivid picture of a man about to cut down a tree. To aim his ax, a man will lay his ax blade on the root to be cut and steadies his footing before swinging the ax over his head to get a sharp blow to the root. There are two ways of looking at this picture. 1) The image is of a man or a nation (a nation is a collection of people with their corporate identity). If there is no repentance, the tree will be cut down and thrown into the fire as worthless. 2) The ax laid at the root could also be a picture of the work of Messiah, Who, through our repentance and trust in Him, will put His ax at the heart of our sin problem, i.e., our root that we inherited from Adam. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).
When we come to Christ, we are born-again or born from above, and we receive new life in Christ and the power to overcome sin. The ax laid at the root could also speak of cutting ourselves off from what has fed our physical lusts and passions. True repentance is to cut the cords of our sin and depend on resources from above, rather than the roots of the life we inherited from Adam, i.e., our flesh nature.
For a country to be revived, a state has to be revived.
For a state to be revived, a city has to be revived.
For a city to be revived, a church has to be revived.
For my church to be revived, I must be revived.
Revival starts with me.
Repentance implies the involvement of our will in changing one's life. In all the categories of life, e.g., as a spouse, parent, roommate, employee, or boss, we are to practice our Christian beliefs, not just give verbal consent to them. If our repentance is true, it may begin with a sorrowful heart, but it must end with determined action; otherwise, it is not true biblical repentance and faith in Christ. As new life comes from a father and a mother, so repentance and faith in Christ bring about new life from above. It takes both.
For what things are we to repent?
Repent and ask the Holy Spirit to cut the root of images in your mind left from past sins. These are hooks that the enemy will use to playback those images at times of temptation to lure you back to those habits of sin.
Repent and cut the root of movies you have watched that have stimulated or sexually excited you. Ask the Holy Spirit to throw away that videotape so that it does not keep replaying anymore.
Repent and cut the root of horror movies that the enemy uses to bring fear to your soul.
Repent and cut the root of the soul ties of old relationships, i.e., what was past and what is now. Some things of your past might need the help of a counselor.
Repent and renounce (reject and wash one’s hands of) any involvement in the occult, séances, horoscopes, New Age books, mantras, and materials.
We must repent of our culture’s redefining of marriage, sexuality, and gender.
Paul the Apostle wrote that we are not our own. We were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19), so we must repent of how we have spent our time and God’s money on entertainment instead of our service to God. We don’t belong to ourselves. We were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you anything in your life that has grieved Him (Ephesians 4:30). Confess and cut the root.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank You for Your presence and Your power. Would you please open my eyes to see new ways that You want to manifest Jesus to this world through me? Amen.