Like newborn babies,
thirst for the pure milk of the word
so that by it you may grow in your salvation.
Surely you have tasted that the Lord is good! 1 Peter 2:2,3
Jesus’ first message – Repentance (Part 1)
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17
Jesus was calling everyday people, to reconsider the way they were living their lives. He was calling them to be ready to embrace a new way of living in the Kingdom of God.
Repentence is also about turning away from sin. Changing direction from wrong to right. What is Sin? Sin is breaking the commandments of God.
Jesus told a story of a young man who which illustrates repentance. Read the passage below.
Jesus continued, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there, squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything , there was a severe famine in that whole country and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals, on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.
Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and you father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “My son, ‘ the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.” Luke 15:11-32
From this passage we can see a story that reveals of the heart of our Father in Heaven, who is not going to continue to condemn us when we repent, but rather embrace us as sons and daughters who were once lost, but have now been found. We don’t have to be afraid of the consequences of repenting.
We just have to be afraid of the consequences of not repenting.
The seriousness and of sin and its consequences are highlighted by Jesus when he says
‘If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.’ Matthew 5:29
Jesus doesn’t mean this literally (no one would be silly enough to blind themselves), but it is like a parable to illustrate that sin is really bad.
We can be assured of our forgiveness of our sins when we repent, because Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins, when he was crucified.
How do we know if we are sinning? We are sinning if we are breaking the commandments of God.
The commandments of God can be summed up by this:
1. Love God
2. Love mankind.
What does it mean to love God?
If you love God you will have no other gods.
Jesus said –
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. ‘ Matthew 22:37,38
It is so easy to be self centred in our way of thinking and living, rather than God centred. We want to be in control of our lives, to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. In effect we make ourselves ‘gods’.
We often fool ourselves into believing we know what is best for our lives and go and do it. Instead, we should be coming before our maker, and asking him what is His direction and seek His approval for the way ahead.
We need to be seeking to do the will of the Father, and do it…if we truely have no other Gods in our lives.
We can also easily make money, our careers, sports and entertainment like god’s in our lives. These things can be innocent enough, however when they begin to dictate our actions, thoughts and our very lives being centred with eg. money having the supreme importance in our lives it becomes like a ‘god’ or an idol.
If we love God, we will have our heart’s totally devoted to him.
Are you willing to let go of your control over your life and make Jesus truely ‘Lord’ ?
This is where repentance begins.
During the time when Jesus was on earth ministering as a man, he discerned that a young man who approached him had made money and possessions his god. He challenged the man to sell all that he had and then follow him – thus repenting of breaking the command to have no other gods.
Emptying ourselves of our so called ‘right’ to do as we please, and to unconditionally submit ourselves to God might be a scarry thought. Pride within us will rise up to tell us to hold on to everything we have known to be ‘who we are’.
But, the way to life, (eternal life), is making our love for God, the first and foremost of importance in our lives.
Our salvation depends on our confession of faith that Jesus is LORD.
‘…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Romans 10:9
What does it mean to confess Jesus is Lord? What are we actually saying?
The Greek word that is translated ‘Lord’ in the above passage is kurios. Thayer’s Greek Definitions says:
1) he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord
1a) the possessor and disposer of a thing
1a1) the owner; one who has control of the person, the master
1a2) in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor
1b) is a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master
1c) this title is given to: God, the Messiah
So, we can ask ourselves, ‘Do I belong to Jesus? Have I given him the power to decide what goes on with my life? Does he possess me? Have I surrendered my life to Him, to the extent that I see Jesus as my owner, who has control over my life? Do I live my life in a way that gives honour, respect and reverence to God?
If you haven’t already, you need to declare Jesus is your Lord. Speak out aloud. Tell him that you surrender your life to him.
There is no other way that leads to life, to eternal life, than making Jesus your LORD.
Don’t worship idols if you love God
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or in the water below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them. Exodus 10:4,5a
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather that the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen Romans 1:18-25
One aspect of an idol is like the worship of gold budda statues. As a christian, we definitely need to get rid of alls physical idols out of our lives. They are simply an offense to the one true living God.
Another type of idol is when we make a false image of God in our mind. For example, if we say for example ‘My God understands me. He knows my heart and my weaknesses. He won’t mind if I continue in this adulterous affair’, or ‘God understands why I need to keep lying’ then we are fashioning our own type of god to suit our sinful life.
This is also idolatry.
It is so important that we learn from scriptures the true character of God, who he is and what he says. This will ensure that we will not fall into the trap of worshipping an image of a god (idol) we have created in our own minds.
If we are covetous and greedy, this is also considered idolatry.
‘Put to death…greed, which is idolatry’. Colossians 3:5
Don’t blaspheme the name of God.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name. Exodus 20:7
One aspect of blaspheme is when we use the names of God as swear words. God’s name is holy, and he will judge those who dishonor his name.
No excuses for it being a ‘cultural part of the language’ will stand.
Another aspect of this is that when we become a Christian, we represent Christ here on Earth. He commanded us to go and preach in his name.
If we are representing Christ, we have to live according to what his name represents. Otherwise this also, is blaspheming the name of God.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant, or your maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11
Keeping one day a week aside as a holy day, is really a good signpost for us in our lives as to whether we are too busy to love God. A signpost as to whether our faith is genuine, and whether we are able to trade off working for spending time seeking, fellowshipping, worshipping and loving on God.
Jesus said ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’
By this he means that the Sabbath is meant to be a day for us, to help us, to bless us, to build up our faith. Not for us to legalistically conform to a set of rules.
The Sabbath is not about the day, it is about the person (Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath). It is about taking time out from the busyness of life, it is about ‘drawing a line in the sand’ and saying, because I love God, I will devote this day to fellowship with God in prayer, reading of his word, fellowship with family and other believers.
Although meant for a blessing, the idea of a Sabbath is prone to be embraced by the legalistic, people thinking that because they observe the sabbath, they are more righteous that others, that only observing the sabbath on certain days will lead to salvation.
If we are becoming legalistic in our ideas and approach of the Sabbath, we have got it wrong. Keep it as a concept of patterning our lives to remember to give God his due honour, to recharge our spirits as we wait upon him, but with all the flexibility and grace that a loving father gives.