WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 15, 2022
TOPIC: LET YOUR LIFE PROVE THAT YOU’VE TRULY REPENTED
BY T. O. BANSO
“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Luke 3:8 New King James Version).
1 Thessalonians 1:9 says people were talking about how the Thessalonians “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (New King James Version). This was proof of their genuine repentance. The Thessalonians became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believed. From them, the word of the Lord sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but also in every place. Note the phrase that they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Abandoning idols for the true God was proof of repentance.
John the Baptist told the multitudes that came to him for baptism, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Luke 3:7-8 New King James Version). Matthew 3:8-9 says a similar thing.
After someone has given his life to Jesus, he must begin to bear fruits worthy of repentance. In other words, he must begin to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (New International Version), prove by the way he lives that he has repented of his sins and turned to God (New Living Translation), do the things that show he really has changed his heart and life (New Century Version), or do those things that prove he has turned to God and has changed the way he thinks and acts (GOD’S WORD Translation).
The Amplified Bible says, “Bear fruits that are deserving and consistent with [your] repentance [that is, conduct worthy of a heart changed, a heart abhorring sin]” (Luke 3:8a). John said those who had come to him for baptism should do this and not start telling themselves that they belonged to Abraham’s family. This would not impress God, as He could turn stones into children for Abraham.
It’s true we are saved by grace, not by works, so that nobody should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is equally true that “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 New King James Version). But the Bible also says that we cannot continue in sin so that grace may abound; we have died to sin and so should not live any longer in it (Romans 6:1-2).
Whoever is born of God or has become part of God’s family does not make a practice of sinning (1 John 5:18). “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him” (1 John 3:5-6 New King James Version).
Verse 9 says, “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God” (New Living Translation). The true children of God may stumble sometimes but will quickly confess and ask for forgiveness. However, they don’t engage in wilful or deliberate sins.
John said, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2 New International Version).
This scripture is not a licence to continue to sin but a provision for repentance and forgiveness in the event that Christians sin, not deliberately. If anyone sins, he shouldn’t continue in it. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Hebrews 10:26-27 New International Version).
In light of this, a true servant of God does not preach a message that encourages sinners and does not turn them to the path of righteous living. He does not preach hyper grace that assures sinners of heaven notwithstanding their continuous reckless living in sin after professing Christ. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain” (Galatians 4:8-11 New King James Version).
The Jews and the Gentiles were in bondage before coming to Christ and should not after conversion return to their former bondage or slavery. The new life in Christ is different from the old life. When someone becomes a Christian, there are what he believes and practices are different from what he believed and practised before his conversion. He is expected to forsake His sins and not return to his old life of sin. Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12:2, “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols” (New International Version). That was their past, which they must not return to it, and still claim they were Christians.
Why should they return to worship the idols which had mouths, but they did not speak, had eyes they but they did not see, had ears, but they did not hear, had noses but they did not smell, had hands, but they did not handle anything and had feet but they did not walk, or idols which did not mutter through their throat? This is how Psalm 115:5-7 describes idols. It further says that those who make them are like them and so is everyone who trusts in them (verse 8). A Christian cannot combine idolatry with the worship of the true God. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13, no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other; you cannot serve God and mammon.
Look at what happened in the early church when people genuinely repented of their sins following Paul’s ministry in Ephesus: “And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver” (Acts 19:18-20 New King James Version).
This was a sequel to a solemn fear that descended on the city following the attack of the seven sons of Sceva by the evil spirit they were trying to cast out by imitating Paul without having any relationship with Jesus. The evil spirit leaped on them and attacked them so violently that they fled from the house, naked and badly injured. When the story spread across Ephesus, a solemn fear had descended on the city and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Then many people believed and genuinely repented from their dead works.
Where there is a balanced presentation of the message of sin and grace, the salvation that follows can be expected to be genuine. But if a preacher gives his listeners the impression that sin doesn’t matter and they can live anyhow because Jesus has already died for us, that will be a distorted teaching on grace. People who come to Jesus on the basis of such teaching will continue to relish sin; they will wallow in sin.
Jesus rebuked five of the seven churches in the book of Revelation and asked them to repent (Revelation 2:5, 16; 2:21-22; 3:3, 19). A minister must not shy away from preaching against sin but also emphasize to people the willingness of God to forgive any repentant sinner or saint who sins.
A servant of God must be committed to teaching the people to live a sanctified life. Paul said, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 New King James Version).
Also, a servant of God must take heed to himself and his teaching. 1 Timothy 4:16 says, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (New King James Version). Be careful that nobody goes to hellfire because you preached a distorted message, and don’t go to hell either! Don’t preach a message that makes sinners comfortable and unrepentant and the sinning saints not to confess their sins and return to God. “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3 New King James Version).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to bear fruits worthy of repentance; let my life prove that I have truly repented. I pray that those who have given their lives to Jesus will not return to their former sins; they will be established and grow in Christ. Those who have strayed shall be restored. Holy Spirit, help the servants of God to preach the true Gospel.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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