This post is an adaptation from my yet-to-be-published book, Misfits on a Journey with Jesus: a 60-Day Exploration. You can find more information about my book on my website.
What's your next life-changing event? Graduation? Marriage? A new baby? Whatever it might be, you're drowning in the sea of preparation. These joyful occasions require careful planning. Even God saw the need for preparing for His world-changing event: Jesus.
God sent a special messenger to prepare the world for Jesus' miraculous ministry. John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin, preached a radical message: confess sin, repent of sin, and be baptized.
I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am; so much greater that I'm not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11, NLT)
While John's baptism symbolized an outward commitment to repent and obey God, Jesus' baptism empowers His followers with the presence of God.
What is the Holy Spirit?
Many books have been written about what the Bible teaches regarding the Holy Spirit. Consider my blog post the Cliff Notes version.
The Old Testament describes the Holy Spirit as a pouring out of God's spirit.
I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. (Joel 2:28, NLT)
When I was living my sinful life without Jesus, I didn't sense God's Spirit upon my life, which leads me to believe that "all people" doesn't include those who refuse to repent? The New Testament tells us plainly how to receive this gift.
Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, NLT, emphasis added)
There's that word again: repent. Do you get the idea that repentance is a big deal to God? Therefore, it should be a big deal to us.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to live in a way that shows the world we follow Jesus.
Repentance: Is it a One and Done?
Is repentance only required at the onset of our new life in Christ? Or is repentance needed throughout our Christian walk?
What Does the Bible Say?
In First Corinthians, Paul scolded the Christians in Corinth for returning to the immoral ways of their culture. As a result, some repented of their sin and returned to following Jesus. In his second letter, Paul "rejoices . . . because [some] were grieved into repenting" (2 Corinthians 7:9, emphasis added).
In Revelation, John records Jesus' message to Christians.
Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. (Revelation 2:5a)
Clearly, repentance remains an important aspect of the Christian life because we still mess up. We still sin!
Le met be clear about what I'm NOT saying! Jesus does not require us to continually beg Him for salvation every time we mess up. The Bible teaches that once we place our faith in Jesus, we're saved from the penalty of sin. PERIOD!
If you confess . . . the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10, NKJV)
Recently the Holy Spirit poked my conscience concerning my own sin. I'll skip the details, but I confess that it involved my God-given role as a wife. Disclaimer: Adultery is NOT part of my story!
I asked God to transform my behavior and thinking regarding the issue in my marriage. In prayer, the Holy Spirit revealed that for transformation to happen, I needed to repent of sin. It seems repentance had fallen off my spiritual radar; I considered it a one and done so many years ago when I became a Christian.
Although I regularly confess sin (I mess up a lot), I was unintentional about my need for repentance.
Once I let the Holy Spirit's message sink in, repentance renewed my desire to obey Christ. I haven't achieved perfect wife status, but I'm becoming more like the wife that God wants for Dick Ewald.
What's Your Story?
Have you taken the first step of faith by repenting of your sins and turning to God (Acts 2:38)? Or have you walked the faith road for a while and find that it's time to "repent and do the things you did at first" (Revelation 2:5a)? Remember, we don't go it alone. John spoke the truth when he proclaimed that Jesus will "baptize with the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 3:11).
Do you have questions about the Christian life? Do you need prayer? I'd love to hear from you. Post your comment below or reach out to me through the Contact Page.