06
Nov
14

The Evidence Of Repentance

 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Matthew 3:1-2

One of the greatest motion pictures in the history of cinema has to be Gone With The Wind, the movie that gathered ten Academy Awards, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director.  The historical romance tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara and her desire for two men, eventually marrying the second, with the Civil War as the backdrop.

During one of the scenes, Rhett Butler is talking to Scarlett, who is in “mourning” over the death of her first husband, whom she only married to spite Ashley Wilkes, the man on whom she had a huge crush.  She tells Rhett that she fears she is guilty of murder, and that she doesn’t want to be punished in hell for her indiscretion.  Rhett famously tells her, “You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail!”

It seems that the church today is full of professing Christians who, like Scarlett, aren’t a bit sorry for their sins, but are terribly frightened they might go to hell over them.

As a herald for the coming Messiah, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ, preaching his message in the wilderness.  Jesus actively preached the same message in Matthew 4:17.  This common message was simple: repent.

“Repent” is a word that seems to have lost its importance and meaning among many churches today.  It is a verb that means to think differently and to reconsider one’s opinions.  As related to a true conversion in the life of a Christian, it means that we adopt God’s attitude toward sin, and that we do everything within our power to avoid committing sin (Romans 6:13).  We don’t continue living the same lifestyle, as we are considered “dead to sin” (Romans 6:2).

The fact of the need for a definite, measurable change in the life of a true, born again Christian is heavily underscored by John the Baptist, when he scorns the Pharisees and Sadducees by demanding, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8).  In his letter, James agrees with this statement when he says, “Faith without works is dead” (2:20, 26).

While we are not saved by works, but by faith (Ephesians 2:8), we still must have an outward evidence if we have had an inner transformation.  We should not talk the same, we should not walk the same, and we should not do the same things we once did.  We should look different from others in the world (1 Peter 2:9-12).  We cannot expect to cling and hold on to worldly practices and enjoy God’s grace and mercy, because we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

Let us examine our inner motivations, to determine if we present “fruit meet for repentance.”

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