This week as I’ve been studying Matthew 3-4, the word repent continued to stand out to me. So naturally, I took a deep dive into these verses to see what God might be showing me.
“In those days, John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!'” Matthew 3:1-2
Because the kingdom of heaven is near…..Jesus is coming…your Savior is on his way.
What stands out about what John is calling the people to do is not simply to feel sorry for choices or decisions they have made. He isn’t calling them to have a sorrowful heart.
Rather, a call to repent is a calling to have a complete change of direction.
Not just an “I’m sorry I did that” but rather a “my tolerance for my behavior and my words has reached its limit. I will radically change my life so I will no longer walk in the direction where that sin is possible in my life.”
So when the passage goes on and states, “produce fruit consistent with repentance“, John is saying no more simply acknowledging your sin. Your confession needs some action steps behind it. Repent. Acknowledge your sin and then radically change your life so you don’t continue to sin.
But the cool part comes next.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is more powerful than I…He himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing shovel is in his hand…” Matthew 3:11-12
John is calling for a radical action step, but then we see with Jesus, not only are we being called to this change in lifestyle, but we are given the gift to do it. Jesus will ignite the kingdom life inside you as you repent.
So this idea of repent…radically changing your life so you aren’t simply repeating the same sin patterns over and over again…is all over chapter 3. Then you jump to chapter 4 and Satan temps Jesus with a misquotation of Psalm 91.
The devil states, “if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
Here is the misquotation because Psalm 91 actually states, “For he will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Do you know the part the devil left out? The part that says as you walk in the ways of the Lord.
Repent: actively turn away from sin and walk in the ways of the Lord. Don’t simply feel sorry for your sin. Walk in a new direction.
You know what Satan tried to twist scripture to say. God will protect you no matter what. He’s got you regardless of if you walk in his ways or not. However, the passage isn’t saying God will give you a special providence over all the dangerous ways we throw ourselves into. It is not saying that whatever way we decide to throw ourselves, God will support us.
Isn’t that the message we would rather hear though? Regardless of the choices I make, God’s got me. I know for me this week I had to stop and think, pray, and ask God to reveal to me where I was simply confessing sin but not truly repenting. Where did I need to take some action steps in my walk with Christ? Where was I throwing myself in the wrong direction? Where did I need to walk in His ways more?
The more I’ve journaled and asked, the more the Lord has revealed. The focus this week has been on removing those things that constantly point me back to the sin I find myself confessing over and over again. Not that you can do this perfectly in a broken world, but I have discovered little habits I need to change to help the overall trajectory of my day.
Goals for this week:
- I’ve given up on Gentle and Lowly. It’s such a great book, but my mind just can’t stay engaged during this season of life. I’m going to pick back up Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard. I was going through it with a friend, and we stopped when she had a baby, but I’m going to jump back in. Goal is to get through 2 chapters this week.
- I’ll continue journaling my prayers morning and night. I had recently stopped doing the Prayer of Examen at night, but I’m going to pick it back up because it incorporates the repentance part daily.
- Study Matthew 5-6
- Work on memorizing Matthew 5
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