Repentance and Baptism Not Symbolic

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39 Peter had just delivered a conscience-stirring sermon to a God-fearing group of people who had gathered together to observe God’s Holy Feast of First fruits (also known as Pentecost).  His message pricked their hearts–convicting them of their sins against God.  As sorrow over this realisation entered them, they cried out to Peter and the other apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (verse 37).  His reply was, as written above, “REPENT, AND BE BAPTISED!” Do you stand convicted of your sins before God, as these brethren did?  Have you come to realise that you are a sinner and you need to be cleansed?  ‘How does one get cleansed?’, you may ask.  ‘And what is repentance?’

Repentance 

Let’s begin with what repentance is NOT.  It is not merely sorrow, remorse, or regret.  It is not sadness you feel over events in your life, although those feelings concerning your life’s circumstances can BRING YOU to repentance.  The apostle Paul wrote of this to the church in Corinthians“For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 Repentance is a change of heart.  As God inspired the prophet Joel to write, it is a change of direction in one’s life–a turning to God“Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:12-13. Repentance is an inward change that will produce outward changes.  This is what Jesus spoke of to the Pharisees when He said, Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Matthew 23:26 Merely changing our outside appearance will not bring us to the Godly perfection that God desires us to attain to“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:21-23 These are the things that are “within the cup” which we must be cleansed of, and that cleansing begins with repentance. As John the Baptist preached, we are to “Therefore bring forth fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8; see also Acts 26:20).  It should be apparent to others that our moral character is changing–that the inside of the “cup” is being cleansed.  These changes of the heart show God that your remorse over your sins is heartfelt and true, and that you truly desire to turn and follow Him.  When you ACKNOWLEDGE your transgressions, TURN from your old way of living and SEEK AFTER GOD, resolving to HEED HIS VOICE and FOLLOW HIS WAY, you have come to repentance. The man after God’s own heart, King David (Acts 13:22), wrote a moving Psalm of repentance for his sin with Bathsheba.  Read all of Psalm 51 for insight into true repentance.

What Is It That We Are To Repent Of?

As stated above, we must repent of our old way of living–repent of our sins.  What Is Sin?  As 1 John 3:4 states, “…sin is the transgression of the law.”  Sin Is The Breaking Of God’s Commandments – of any of His laws.  A truly repentant person will turn from practising sin, and begin striving with all of his/her heart to keep God’s holy commandments in spirit and in truth. The apostle Paul declared, “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”  (Romans 7:7).  For one to understand what sin is and what he or she should repent of, they should look into God’s holy, perfect, and just law, “…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20).  Have you turned from your sinful way of living and started living according to God’s Law?

Acknowledge your Sins and Repent of Them

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).  As the apostle Paul wrote, “…There is none righteous, no, not one: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23; see also Romans 5:12).  So there is a need for ALL people to repent, for ALL have broken God’s Laws.  We are to turn from the dead works of the flesh and serve the living God.  For “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans 6:21-23 Without repentance, you will not receive that gift of eternal life and you will therefore die in your sin.  Baptism without repentance is nothing more than a dunking in water–for it is truly not a spiritual matter then.  Many people today have been merely “dunked” and not truly baptised unto repentance, some of them only being as much as “sprinkled” with water.  If you were “baptised” as a baby, a young child, or even as an adult, while not repenting of breaking God’s law, then it was not a TRUE baptism–for there was no repentance.  Without repentance, baptism–even if it is done in the correct form of immersion in water–is invalid.  As Jesus said, “…except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3 and 5). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).  “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and [return] to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7). “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him.” Psalms 32:1-6

Believe In Jesus Christ

Repentance must be accompanied with FAITH in Jesus Christ.  One who comes to repentance without accepting the blood of Christ through faith, will not come to forgiveness from God.  As Mark recorded in his Gospel account, “He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16.  John, the apostle “whom Jesus loved,” wrote much concerning faith in Christ for salvation.  In his Gospel account, he wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life….He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:16,36. God’s wrath abides on the unbelievers because the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is not applied to them due to their unbelief, and therefore, they are left in their sins, separated from God.  John continually addressed this issue throughout his epistles.  In 1 John 2:23, John wrote, “Whosoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father.”  And in 1 John 4:15, he wrote, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God.”  And again, in 1 John 5:10-13, he stated, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” As the Scriptures clearly show, belief in Christ is integral to one’s salvation.  When Philip had encountered the Ethiopian eunuch and the eunuch asked him, “…See, here is water; what does stop me to be baptised?”  Philip said, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptised?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptised him.” Acts 8:36-38.

Receiving The Gift Of The Spirit From God

After repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, one is to have hands laid upon them to receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.  Upon prayer and the laying on of hands, God the Father endows the repentant believer with an earnest of the spirit which seals them for their day of redemption (2 Corinthians 1:22 / Ephesians 1:13,14).  This spirit, likened to the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-16), will lead you into all truth.  It writes the law of God in the hearts of His people (Hebrews 10:16 / 2 Corinthians 3:3), convicting us of our sins, and leading us in overcoming our sinful nature. What if you had been baptised–immersed in water–and you felt that you had repented and your baptism was valid, yet you had not received the Holy Spirit?  If you truly repented and were baptised in Jesus’ name, then you need only to have hands laid on you to receive God’s Spirit, as we see recorded in the book of Acts: “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:14-17. However, there were disciples who had received the baptism of John (the Baptist) who saw the need to be RE-BAPTISED: “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptised?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptised with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.” Acts 19:1-6.  Though they had been baptised after repentance, it had not been in Jesus’ name and they had not received the spirit of God.  Hence, they were baptised again and had hands laid upon them to receive this precious gift of God’s Spirit. It is at baptism that we are begotten as children of God through the receiving of the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands.  When the Holy Spirit meets with our spirit, we are thence conceived.  As Romans 8:16 states, “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”  We then become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) awaiting our birth into God’s glorious Kingdom.

Meaning Of Baptism

Every covenant that God has made with His people has a token, such as the rainbow of God’s covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:12,13,&17) and the circumcision of the God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:11).  Baptism is a token of the new covenant.  Paul wrote to the Church in Colosse of baptism in Jesus’ name, referring to it as the “circumcision of Christ,” and thereby showing that it has replaced the token of circumcision:  “In Whom [Jesus Christ] also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:11-13). These physically uncircumcised saints of Colosse, as with all of Jesus’s disciples, were spiritually circumcised through the baptism of repentance into Christ Jesus. Physical circumcision had symbolised death–for the cutting off of the foreskin was as such as cutting off the seed line of the person circumcised.  It also symbolised resurrection by being performed the eighth day (Genesis 17:12)–eight being the number of regeneration and new beginnings.  Baptism, the spiritual circumcision, symbolises the death, burial, and resurrection of both Jesus Christ and those baptised. As Galatians 2:20 states, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me…”   This symbolic co-crucifixion, representing the death of our “old man” (our sinful nature) with Christ, is accomplished through baptism.  Paul also wrote of this truth to the Romans, stating, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” Romans 6:3-5. Paul reiterated this when he wrote in Colossians 2:12, as stated above, that the baptised believer is “buried with Him [Jesus Christ] in baptism, wherein also you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead.” Baptism also symbolises the washing away of our sins.  Saul, the man who came to be known as the apostle Paul, was confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus.  He was struck blind and told by Christ to go to Ananias, a disciple of Jesus.  Upon finding him, Paul was told “…be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).  This washing, however, is not actually accomplished by the waters of baptism.  As Peter wrote when speaking of Noah and the seven with him being saved through water, that “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” 1 Pet 3:21.  The actual removal of sin comes through God’s merciful forgiveness to the repentant sinner who has faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for our justification.  Baptism is required of us by God, but, as John wrote, it is ” …Jesus Christ who…washed us from our sins in His own blood.” (Rev 1:5). This same truth was written by Paul to the Ephesians,  for he wrote to them of Jesus Christ: “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).  When you believe in Jesus and His sacrifice for you, your sins will be atoned for through your faith in Him, upon your repentance and baptism.  It is Jesus’ blood that cleanses us–baptism symbolise that cleansing. Baptism is the means by which one becomes a member of the Body of Christ–of His Church. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” (I Corinthians 12:13).  Through baptism, we become betrothed to Jesus–for the Church is the Bride of Christ.  We are not betrothed as individuals, for Luke 20:35 shows that no one will be married nor given in marriage in our resurrected state, but it is the Church as a whole that acts as His Bride.  We declare that we will love, honor, and obey Him for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for all the days of our lives.  We vow to stay true to Him–to not stray into spiritual fornication and adultery.  The apostle Paul declared, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousyfor I have espoused you [the Church] to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2).  This is how we, the Church, as His Bride, must be presented to our coming Husband–as a spiritually pure virgin.  We are cleansed through baptism, and must remain clean to be accepted of Him as His Bride.

What Must Be Done AFTER Baptism?

After we’re cleansed, what shall we do?  “…Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid [The Greek here means “May it never be conceived of!!”]. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1,2).  When we accept the blood of Christ and vow our lives to God through baptism, we must be continually striving to overcome our sinful nature and live in obedience to God’s Way.  “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. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:6-13) “…Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price [the blood of Jesus Christ]: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20).  Paul wrote again, in his epistle to the Romans, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service [because He bought you with Christ’s blood]. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1,2). Upon repentance, baptism, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, it is God’s desire “that ye put off concerning the former conversation [conduct], the old man [sinful nature], which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no morebut rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all maliceAnd be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:22-32). We are to walk as Jesus walkedin humility, in obedience, in love, in faith, in hope–in the Way of Righteousness, with mercy and compassion for friends and for foes.  For “…ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Romans 8:9).  The only way to receive that Spirit is through repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands (Acts 2:38), and God gives it only to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).  We are to be led by that Spirit which we receive of Him, “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).

Serious Step Of Baptism Is Only The Beginning

Repentance and baptism are just the beginning of a life-long growth process.  It is the first step in the walk down the narrow path to Life.  We must be continually overcoming our sinful ways.  True Christianity is NOT a religion (as religions are known today).  It is NOT something one does just an hour or two a week.  True Christianity is THE WAY OF LIFE–you should be striving to live according to God’s Way EVERY MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE.  And we are to live by every word out of God’s mouth (Matthew 4:4/Deuteronomy 8:3). Following God unto salvation, as a Christian should, is not easy, for “…strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto [eternal] life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14). A rich, young ruler sought salvation.  Coming to Jesus, he asked, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto Him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:16-29). What are you NOT willing to forsake that you may walk this narrow path to salvation and life eternal?

COUNT THE COST

Have you determined to put God first in your life, willingly forsaking ANYTHING to follow Him? Matthew 10:37 “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Can you follow God like our righteous father Abraham?  Though he loved Isaac greatly, he was willing to sacrifice his “only son” out of his love for God, because he loved God more (see Gen 22:1-18).  Abraham put God first in his life.  Are you willing to do the same? Luke 14:26-33 “”If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” This is the most serious thing you’ll ever do.  You have to realize how much you may be required to give up in order to follow God.  You very well may have to forsake family and friends: Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36).  “Old friends” will more than likely forsake you & speak evil of you (1 Peter 4:3,4) and this may cause you great pain, but you must hold fast to God’s Word.  God’s truth will cause division.  He is separating the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), the wheat from the chaff (Matthew 3:12), those who HEAR GOD AND HEED HIS VOICE from those who are not willing to even hear Him – let alone follow Him (Matthew 13:15/Acts 28:27).  Martyrdom may even be required of you (Revelation 6:9/12:17).  Are you willing to die for God?

No Turning Back

When we have repented and been baptized, and have accepted the blood of Christ, we cannot turn back to ungodly ways.  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” (Hebrew 6:4-6).  “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrew 10:26-31). The apostle Peter also understood that the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” is Scripturally unfounded, for he wrote, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (3 Peter 2:20-22). Remember, it is NOT easy to follow Jesus–it is a NARROW path you must walk upon and there is much that must be forsaken.  As Luke recorded, “… in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back [FORSAKE ALL]. Remember Lot’s wife [see Genesis 19:24-26]. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it [see Luke 14:26]; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” (Luke 17:28-33).  YOU MUST NOT TURN FROM GOD TO TRY TO PRESERVE YOUR PHYSICAL LIFE!! “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62. Do NOT look back on your past way of living with desire, but look to God always, for He will deliver His People.

THE STEPS TO TAKE

1)  Look into God’s Law (Deuteronomy 8:3/Matt 4:4) as your spiritual mirror and acknowledge your blemishes which it reflects. “…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) 2)  Turn to God in repentance, acknowledging His righteousness, asking His forgiveness in Jesus’ name. 3)  Believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Saviour. Without His sacrifice, we all would be dead in our sins.  Jesus died for each one of us personally.  Realize, that if you were the only person to ever live, that Jesus Christ still would have to come and die just for you.  That is how much He loves you. 4)  Commit to putting God FIRST in your life (Matthew 10:37). 5)  Turn from your lawless ways. Turn from all unlawful relationships (fornication, adultery, homosexual relations, etc.).  Let him that stole, steal no more.  Let no corrupt communication come from your mouths–put away all falsehoods (Eph. 4:17-32). 6)  Have mercy and compassion on fellow man as God does on us. Recall Jesus’ model prayer (Matthew 6:9-12) and the words which followed, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14,15). 7)   Keep looking to God and continue in repentance as you walk free from the power of sin. Repentance is NOT a one time event.  We are not perfected at baptism.  It is merely the beginning of turning from death to life eternal in Christ Jesus.  And realize, sin is not always clearly seen.  We have to continually look into our spiritual mirror, giving heed to God’s spirit which leads us into all truth. “And now why are you waiting? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16 NKJV). God Bless Brian Hoeck

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