“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Matthew 3:8 (NLT)
The message of John the Baptist was a harsh one. He preached repentance to a people who didn’t think they needed to change. After all, God called the Jews to be His people, a chosen nation; what did they need to repent of? Yet, John would use the very law God gave this chosen people to confront them with how far they had departed from it. When the people heard the message and realized how far they fell short and how badly they needed to repent, countless numbers began to repent and be baptized as an expression of the change they were making in their hearts.
Jesus preached a similar message of repentance, but He went beyond the law, focusing on life! His message was not merely a turning from sin, but a turning to Him to receive that life! John’s disciples had the right start but needed to take the next step. They needed to trust in Jesus as their Messiah and Savior from sin so they could live with a new quality of life that would enable them to be free from the hurts, habits and hang-ups that had kept them bound. Have you taken that step?
Whenever someone responded to the invitation of Jesus and truly repented, it’s amazing how quickly they made changes in their lives that reflected their commitment to Christ. Matthew and Zacchaeus were two examples in Matthew 9 and Luke 19. Both illustrate that, when the heart is right, the hand is swift to do the right thing. What’s interesting to me is that nowhere in the biblical narrative does Jesus make a demand for such changes. Each responded with radical changes as a result of encountering Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance! What changes has knowing Christ made in your own life?
Sometimes, the decision to follow Christ requires difficult and painful choices to leave behind things that would keep us from Him. It could be a business or, even, relationships that are unhealthy. For those who made such changes in the New Testament, the emphasis was not so much on what they gave up as it was on what they gained in following Jesus! Forgiveness! A fresh start! A clean conscience! An intimate and personal relationship of unconditional love with Jesus! A new life!
Are you trying to hold on to your old life? You can’t experience all God has for you until you let go and receive His life. It will become obvious by the way you live that you’ve experienced a changed life!