“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins.” (Matthew 3:8 NLT)
In a message I heard while attending a recent men’s conference, the speaker explained how vital it is that we understand what “repentance” is. While there, in a conversation, someone spoke of a man he knows who is living in open rebellion against God yet clings to his confidence that he’s going to heaven because he believes “once saved, always saved.” Are your “ears” perked up yet? 😊
The lie that Satan promotes through that widely taught doctrine is that God will overlook all future sin, so it really doesn’t matter how we live. The problem with that conclusion is, saying a prayer doesn’t save us, a broken, contrite heart, evidenced by a changed mind and life does. Am I suggesting grace saves us but works keep us saved? Absolutely not!
The same grace that saves us sustains us. The works that God planned for us to carry out before the foundation of the world aren’t what maintains our relationship with God. Our “works” are what identifies us as God’s child. They’re offered to God out of a grateful heart as an offering to Him for what He did, is doing, and will one day complete for us in glory. Salvation is never dependent upon us. It’s always and only a gift given to us by Christ alone, by faith alone.
So, what is “repentance?” In the original language it means: “a change of mind.” But implied in that change of mind is a change in direction. It’s a military term that speaks of “an about face.” The course of our lives is heading in one direction, but when we meet Jesus, our mind and heart are changed, so much so, it requires a brand-new direction in which our lives must now walk.
To believe mumbling a few words as a result of an emotional experience is going to lock in our eternal destiny is a lie from the depths of hell. Faith in Christ’s completed work on the Cross, illustrated by a changed life – new desires, new direction, new habits, new thoughts, new dependence upon the Holy Spirit to live in and through us, is clear evidence that we’re saved. Jesus becomes our Savior, yes, of course, but He also becomes our Lord, Master, Leader, Teacher, in short, our Life!
One evidence that Christ is our life is wanting what He wants more than what we want for ourselves. What might that look like? If we’re living in disregard to the clear instructions of God’s Word, we need a heart check.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter.” The logical question then becomes – “What does it mean to do the will of God?” While it might look a little different for each believer, the premise is the same for all of us. Obedience to the Lord’s directives in our lives.
Paul wrote in Romans 6:16: “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” To live in open rebellion against the clear instructions of God’s Word should be a wake-up call. Saved people are constantly seeking to obey God’s Word as a rule of life, not looking for more ways to sin.
Can we still sin? Of course, but that should be the exception, not the rule (see 1 John 2). John wrote in 1 John 5:1: “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” And please don’t misunderstand. To “believe” here means “to commit one’s trust to.” It means to place the weight of faith on the truth of who Jesus is and what He did on our behalf. It’s not merely an intellectual assent. James 2:19 reminds us: “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”
We’ll look at this more closely tomorrow, Lord willing.
Blessings, Ed 😊