Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 3:2 (RSV)

When we seek God with our whole heart, it changes us. One of the ways we are changed is that we begin to understand how deeply horrible our sin is to God. As we continue to seek God, that understanding moves from our minds to our hearts. We become grieved in our hearts and spirits at the things we’ve done and the things we’ve thought. And if our heart remains open to God’s Spirit, we become repentant. Over the next few weeks, I want to explore what it means to have a repentant heart.

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ. Isaiah 40:3 is a prophecy about the ministry of John the Baptist:

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
Isaiah 40:3 (NLT)

In other words, his message would be one of preparing the way for the Lord to come. In Isaiah it’s described as “clearing the way through the wilderness” and “making a straight highway through the wasteland.”

The wilderness and the wasteland is our life – our sinful life. It’s a land that must be cleared before God can move in. I’m not saying that we have to get rid of all the sin in our life before we invite Christ to be our Lord and Savior. If that were the case, none of us would ever be ready to be saved. No, friends, sin has too strong a hold on each of us.

What I’m saying is that we must come to the place of (1) agreeing with God that our lives are wilderness and wasteland, (2) asking Him to come take over the mess and (3) committing to working with Him to follow His ways instead of our sinful ways.

That’s what opens the path in the wilderness and God loves walking through that path.
What the Apostle John actually said to the people was more to the point:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 3:2 (RSV)

Now the word “repent” literally means “think differently” about your sins. It’s the place we all must come to if we are to live for Christ. Because, quite frankly, before we come to Christ, we like our sin. We’re happy to indulge in many of them. But God, through John the Baptist, calls on us to think differently about our sins. We’re to repent.

But that’s not a popular word in our culture. You’re more likely to hear someone say “I have no regrets” than “I repent” or “I have repented.” The concept of “no regrets” is one that denies our sin. Scripture has something to say about that:

8If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9 (RSV)

The truth is that we are sinners and we have sinned. Repenting of our sin means that we learn to think differently about them – to think about our sin as God does.

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)

We are all infected and impure with sin. To think otherwise is to be deceived. But God is ready to forgive our sins when we come to Him with repentant hearts. He will cleanse our hearts from the darkness within them when we are truly repentant. Being remorseful isn’t enough – simply being sorry doesn’t cut it. Repentance means hating our sin as God hates it. And it opens the door for God to enter and wipe clean all the sin that we come to agreement with Him about. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Amen!

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