"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall 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 Firstfruits (also known as Pentecost). His message pricked their hearts--convicting them of their sins against God. As sorrow over this realization 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 BAPTIZED!"
Do you stand convicted of your sins before God, as these brethren did? Have you come to realize that you are a sinner and you need to be cleansed? 'How does one get cleansed?', you may ask. 'And what is 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 Corinth: "For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of [the Godly sorrow is not to be repented of]: but the sorrow of the world worketh death [like Judas Iscariot--Mt 27:3-5]. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." (II Cor 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: "Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God..." (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, "Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also." (Matt 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, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the 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 "bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Mt 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 I 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 practicing 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 had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Rom 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." (Rom 3:20). Have you turned from your sinful way of living and started living according to God's Law? (please read New Testament Commandments).
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" (I 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" (Rom 3:10, 23; see also Rom 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 had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 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 baptized unto repentance, some of them only being as much as "sprinkled" with water. If you were "baptized" 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 ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3,5).
"Repent ye 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 unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and [return] to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:7). "He [sinful mankind] shall pray unto God, and He will be favourable unto him: and he shall see His face with joy: for He will render unto man His righteousness. He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living" (Job 33:26-30).
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence [not confessing my sins in repentance to God], my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me [calling me to repentance]: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him" (Psalm 32:1-6).
BELIEVE IN 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 that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (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 whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life...He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth 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 denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." And in 1 John 4:15, he wrote, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." And again, in 1 John 5:10-13, he stated, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on 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 doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized 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 (II Cor 1:22 / Eph 1:13,14). This spirit, likened to the mind of Christ (I Cor 2:12-16), will lead you into all truth. It writes the law of God in the hearts of His people (Heb 10:16 / II Cor 3:3), convicting us of our sins, and leading us in overcoming our sinful nature.
What if you had been baptized--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 baptized 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 which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: (For as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their 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-BAPTIZED: "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues [other languages], and prophesied" (Acts 19:1-6). Though they had been baptized unto repentance, it had not been in Jesus' name and they had not received the spirit of God. Hence, they were baptized again and had hands laid upon them to recieve 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 beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." We then become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) awaiting our birth into God's glorious Kingdom (Read Born Again-When? for more information on this).
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 (Gen 9:12,13,&17) and the circumcision of the God's covenant with Abraham (Gen 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 ye 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, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col 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 symbolized death--for the cutting off of the foreskin was as such as cutting off the seedline of the person circumcised. It also symbolized resurrection by being performed the eighth day (Gen 17:12)--eight being the number of regeneration and new beginnings. Baptism, the spiritual circumcision, symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of both Jesus Christ and those baptized. As Galatians 2:20 states, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth 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, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom 6:3-5). Paul reiterated this when he wrote in Colossians 2:12, as stated above, that the baptized believer is "buried with Him [Jesus Christ] in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead."
Baptism also symbolizes 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 baptized, 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 "the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us [is] (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I 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" (Eph 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 symbolizes 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 Cor 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 jealousy: for I have espoused you [the Church] to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2Cor 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?" (Rom 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 [symbolically through baptism] 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." (Rom 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." (1Cor 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." (Rom 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 more: but 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 malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you." (Eph 4:22-32).
We are to walk as Jesus walked: in 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." (Rom 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" (Rom 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 (Matt 4:4/Deut 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." (Mt 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." (Mt 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?
Mt 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 any man come to Me, and hate not [meaning, "is loving these more than Me" (like Mt 10:37)] his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold 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, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he 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." (Mt 10:34-36). "Old friends" will more than likely forsake you & speak evil of you (1 Pet 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 (Mt 25:31-46), the wheat from the chaff (Mt 3:12), those who HEAR GOD AND HEED HIS VOICE from those who are not willing to even hear Him - let alone follow Him (Mt 13:15/Acts 28:27). Martyrdom may even be required of you (Rev 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." (Heb 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 judgment 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." (Heb 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." (II Pet 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 Gen 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!!
"And it came to pass, that as they went in the way, a certain man said unto Him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head. And He said unto another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back [like Lot's wife], 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 (search ALL His word--Deut 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." (Rom 3:20)
2) Turn to God in repentance, acknowledging His righteousness, asking His forgiveness in Jesus' name.
3) Believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
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 (Matt 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). Renounce the holidays of man (Christmas, Easter, etc.), repent of observing them, and begin to observe God's Holy Days (Leviticus 23). Begin observing His seventh day Sabbath--refraining from labors, worshipping Him, and growing in a greater loving relationship with Him in that day. Stop eating things that God declared to be unclean (see Are All Things Clean?). Strive to live by every word out of the mouth of God.
6) Have mercy and compassion on fellow man as God does on us.
Recall Jesus' model prayer (Matt 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." (Matt 6:14,15).
7) Keep looking to God and continue in repentance as you strive to overcome 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 mirrror, 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).
Author: Brian Hoeck
©1998 Truth On The Web Ministries: All the articles originated by Kenneth Hoeck or Brian Hoeck may be freely distributed or mirrored as long as presented in their entirety (including this statement), attributed to Truth on The Web, and that proper author credit is given.
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