Real Repentance, Part II
Text: Luke 3:1-22 | Listen to Message
In Part I, we saw that real repentance requires a reorientation of mind and a renovation of actions. Changed thoughts produce changed fruits. But so often we substitute some cheap alternative for actual change. For example…
Punishment avoidance: Children and adults alike often protest how sorry and penitent they are … the moment they know they’ve just been caught. So long as they think they’ve gotten away with their sin, they don’t feel an ounce of remorse; but once the instant they know they’re in trouble, they rush to avoid any and all consequences of their wrongdoing.
That’s what John the Baptist recognizes in Luke 3. He knows that some in his audience are just like poisonous snakes slithering away from a brush fire: they’re not repentant; they just don’t want to get burned.
Penance: This is when you substitute the doing of good deeds for actual repentance. Instead of changing, you just try to “bank credits” to offset your debits. You don’t plan on actually following Christ, but you occasionally attend church or read your Bible or toss up a prayer to make up for the week you’ve had (or know you’re about to have).
John the Baptist sees this in these “vipers” as well. They have no intention of repenting and becoming anything other than snakes. But just in case John is onto something about this baptism thing, they decide to do that to offset something miserable about their lifestyles.
Presumption or privilege: This is the misconception that some people are so “in” with God they don’t have to repent – that God will just accept them, regardless.
John saw this in his crowd, as well. And he warned them, “How dare you think that just because you have Abraham as your father you’re entitled to live however you want.”
Putting down the truth: If someone is saying something that causes you to feel conviction, just call them unkind and intolerant. Make sure that anyone and everything that points out your guilt gets labeled and silenced. Why repent of your sin when you can just make someone else look like the fool for calling it sin?
In this text, Luke jumps ahead and mentions that Herod had John the Baptist arrested. See, Herod didn’t like the fact that John rebuked him for committing adultery with his brother’s wife. So, instead of repenting, Herod had John locked up and beheaded. How’s that for dealing with your conscience? Just kill the person who makes you feel guilty for your sin!
How do you deal with conviction and guilt? All of the things mentioned here are short-term “fixes” that don’t actually fix anything. You may feel better, but you are in a far worse place spiritually than before. So let conviction and guilt do one thing in your life: let them drive you to Christ in true repentance.