Monday, January 17, 2011

John the Baptist: Genuine Repentance

True repentance involves three important steps:
1) Conviction: This is the change of mind. You become convinced, through the work of the Holy Spirit, of your sinfulness and also of specific sins: that what you have done – or not done – constitutes sin, it was wrong and you now hate it the way God hates it.

The Bible says that sometimes a person will quench the Holy Spirit's work, so that you can become calloused in a particular area of you life, so that you are no longer sensitive to the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin.

Rationalization: You end up rationalizing: explaining why the sin was not sin, or why the sin was defensible, or why the sin is really not as bad as it seems. Think about it. Where might you be doing this with some sin in your life?

John the Baptist only baptized people who confessed their sins in good faith.

This is the confession of sin with no attempt to excuse it or justify it.
* Confess your sin specifically. You can't turn away from a generalization.
* Tell God exactly what you have been convicted about. Let your heart is broken over it. It’s okay, you don’t need to keep up a good front with God. His heart is already broken over you.

2) Contrition: This is the change of heart. As your heart becomes broken over your sin, you experience a deep sorrow and grief that you have offended God and broken fellowship with Him. You discover a deep desire to turn away from sin and turn towards Christ, and a willingness to make restitution whenever possible

Sometimes the work of the Spirit is quenched at this point:

Remorse: You get stuck in that awful feeling of knowing that you are sinning, or that you have sinned. You are disgusted and discouraged with yourself, but there is no decision to change. The Bible says this is not a godly response to conviction and it will lead to despair.

Regret: You are sorry about the consequences of your sin, but there is no decision to change. This will harden you to the process of conviction, as you grow accustomed to the consequences, or tell yourself that "Well, I’m just that way."

John's baptism was meant to reflect a deep heart change, a washing away of the now hated sin.

3) Conversion: Your will becomes engaged, you resolve so deeply not to sin in this way again that you actually get up and change what's wrong, then move on without looking back. In other words, you turn around, all the way, your feet, as well as your head, are pointed away from the sin and pointed towards the Lord Jesus Christ, His way in the Bible.

The Holy Spirit's work can even be quenched here,

In the passion of the moment, you might turn around. Your head’s around, your heart’s around....but your feet stay pointed towards the sin. Your heart becomes calloused when you don't follow through with your good intentions. You have good feelings from the good intentions, and maybe from some half-hearted attempts at change, but you don’t end up paying any of the cost of real change .

That’s what John the Baptist saw in the Pharisees and the Sadducees when he said "bear fruit" or get axed. He refused to baptize those whose lives did not reflect genuine change.

Genuine change happens when you let the Holy Spirit alter your mind and your feelings and your behavior.

Go all out.
*Commit to replacing whatever it is you confessed with whatever it is that God has for you.

*Replace the unhealthy food with healthy food that builds up the body God has given you.

*Replace the impure reading material with pure reading material that transforms your mind to right thinking.

*Replace the coarse programs with uplifting programs that fill your heart with good principles for living and so on.

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment by clicking on the word "comments" below, and join the conversation


  1. "Go all out."

    A perfect summation to a very fine (and very convicting) post.

    I've been waging war against my own sins lately, and have been repenting of many things. The process can be exhausting and disconcerting. The four points at the end of your essay were immensely helpful to me, as they addressed some of the things that have been plaguing me.

    Thank you again for your work, sister.

  2. You and me together; so often I don't go all out in repentance, and those sins keep finding me out.

    God rest and keep you tonight, and give you new mercy and strength in the morning!


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