What fails to occur to us when we attempt to properly assess the state of our walk with the Lord and our impact on the world around us, is the troublesome necessity of repenting. Whew! That was a mouthful. Forget it. Let’s just dwell on the love of a gentle Savior and reassure ourselves with this modern thing called unconditional love.
Feel better? Sorry. That won’t cut it.
John the Baptist began his ministry with “repent.” Not “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” He also threw down the gauntlet when he said:
“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:9).
That statement elicited the crowd’s response, “And the people asked him, saying, ‘What shall we do then’” (v.10). We wish such questions could be left unanswered.
But no. For those who were truly under conviction and saw this odd man as someone whose words could not be ignored, he had answers. He called them to face up to who they were—a generation of vipers, (v.7). They had relied on their status as children of Abraham. John said that was a status quo that wouldn’t suffice. Then he gave them admonitions specific to their circumstances.
Next he alerted them to the advent of Messiah, the One they thought they understood and desired: A gentle man of smiles and humorous anecdotes, and a fearsome defeater of Rome?
No. This One would quickly evaluate them and separate out the wheat from the chaff.
“I’ll have a diet pop with a chocolate croissant.” Or, “lite beer and bowl of crunchy fat-sugar-salt, please.” Ah, the American diet.
If you have never studied nutrition, you may not realize that the bodies God created for us do not function well on the average American diet of fat sugar and salt. It is like trying to run your car on vinegar. Food was meant to nourish us, but those things, in the amounts we typically consume, do not nourish. Good food also tastes good. In moderation, it won’t make you a type whatever blimp, waiting to die miserably in some ICU.
Interspersing a packaged vegetable amidst the junk will not nourish you either, by the way.
Everything in life starts with what you don’t engage in—what you turn away from. The phony substance you don’t ingest because you cannot even pronounce the ingredients. The filth you do not view (Matthew 6:23). The meanness you repress before it spills out of your mouth (Matthew 15:18). The falsehoods that satisfy an itching ear (2 Timothy 4:3). The evil communications (habits) that corrupt good manners (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Christ makes a new creation. He doesn’t tack something onto the old.
“No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:16-17).
Again, it starts with “repent.” Deny yourself. An unregenerate heart, one devoid of the presence of the Holy Spirit will not be able to resist the things of the world, the flesh or the devil. Self-imposed reforms—of any kind—simply do not work.
[Jesus said,] “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation” Matthew 12:43-45).
In Christ, though, when we are truly born-again, a entirely different transaction takes place.
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6).
Rein in those sinful urges and nourish your body, mind and soul. Then you will flourish.