October 7, 2011
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Have you ever met people who have never apologized for anything they have ever done? Some people go through life so consumed with themselves that they cannot imagine that they have a problem with sin, causing them to fall short of the glory of God. The Lord Jesus taught us that everyone has sinned, and everyone falls short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:9-18). What does God expect sinners to do with their sins? What does God expect you to do with your sins? We will study the ministry of John the Baptist today and we will learn what God expects us to do with our sins.
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
John the Baptist. We have read about the prophecy of Isaiah the prophet describing the one who would come to prepare the way of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. He would prepare the way of the LORD, and cry in the wilderness. In Mark 1:4, John the Baptist ministered to prepare the people of Israel to receive their Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Baptism of Repentance. In Mark 1:4, we see the work of John the Baptist described in more detail: he was preaching. Out in the wilderness, a prophet appears with a specific message that captivated crowds of people to venture into the wilderness for baptism. We should always keep in mind that no form of baptism ever saved anyone. Water touching your skin will not change the spiritual person within you. Only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ will anyone be saved. Some denominations, like the Church of Christ in the United States, teach that baptism saves you, and even quote verses from Acts. As in this passage, when you look more closely at the preaching and the context of the verses, you will see that the baptism was only an outward sign of repentance in the heart. If John the Baptist brought salvation, then Jesus did not have to come and die for our sins. But, as we have seen, John the Baptist only prepared the way for Jesus to come as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). John the Baptist focused upon preparing the hearts of the people of Israel to receive their Messiah by showing them how sinful they were, how much the needed a Savior, and that Jesus Christ was coming to save them from their sins. Repentance for sin was closely linked to being prepared for the Righteous One, Jesus Christ, to come after John the Baptist. Repentance has nothing to do with water, but everything to do with your heart.
The Meaning of Repentance. In Mark 1:4, we see that “repentance” (“μετανοίας“) related to the forgiveness of sins. Literally, the word “repentance” means a changing of your mind, related to a new decision or purpose. In this case, the preaching of John the Baptist urged them to confront their sin, change their mind regarding their sins, and seek God’s forgiveness for sins. As an outward statement of their inward repentance, John the Baptist baptized them in the Jordan River. God prepares hearts to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ by first convincing you of your own sinfulness and need to seek the forgiveness of God. Unless you know you are sinner, you will never seek God’s forgiveness.
The People Came to John the Baptist. In contrast to so much modern preaching, true prosperity in the preaching of Jesus Christ always focused upon spiritual salvation from the penalty of sin, and a life of walking with Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. The inner person, and not material possessions, dominated the message of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist did not invite people to see him in the wilderness to gain material prosperity, but to repent and confess their sins. Those people came in droves from the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. John the Baptist baptized them in the Jordan River.
Confessing Their Sins. In Mark 1:5, the last words of the verse tell about the people confessing their sins. While repentance means to change your mind, confessing (“ἐξομολογούμενοι“) means here to speak out the same words. John the Baptist preached a message about repentance and confession. Repentance means you change your mind, and confession means that you speak and believe in your heart the same words God would use to describe you and your actions. When God works through the preaching of His servants, God’s word penetrates our inner person, so that, when mixed with faith, it changes our perspective on who we are and what we have done–with our mind, we realize that we are sinners and we sin. After we come to that new awareness, we realize spiritually that we need to confess and speak out our sins to the God who already knows every sin in our lives–past, present and future. John the Baptist made straight the paths of the Lord Jesus Christ by bringing the people to repentance for sin (changing their minds) and then confessing their sins (saying the same words as God about themselves and their actions) resulting in a frank recognition of sin, creating a longing for the forgiveness of God. God invites you today to repent, confess your sins, and turn to Jesus Christ for new life. Jesus Himself bore our sins on the cross, so that we would die to sin, and live to righteousness. He offers you a gift today. Will you accept by faith His gift of salvation? Ask Jesus to forgive you because He died on the cross for you, and rose from the dead to be your Lord and Master forever. If you ask and believe, you will be forgiven today.
So we learn more about repentance and confession today.
● Repentance means that you change your mind about your behavior, and purpose in your heart to leave your sin behind.
● Confession means that you agree with God about your sin, and tell God that you accept His verdict: you are guilty of sinning before God.
● Forgiveness for sins comes only through Jesus Christ as a free gift from God. God loves you, and Jesus came to forgive sinners by dying on the cross for all sins. He offers you the gift of salvation today.
Application for Today
As I live today, I will be thinking about repentance, confession, and forgiveness of sins. Am I still hiding my sins, and walking in darkness? The only cure for sin requires confession and accepting forgiveness from Christ. Will you walk in that forgiveness today?