Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:8)
…that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. (Acts 26:20)
What is repentance? Is “bearing fruit” and “performing deeds,” described above, the same thing as “repentance?” Apparently not, but rather a way to show that repentance has actually taken place. If that’s true, then what exactly is Repentance?
The meaning of the Greek word in the New Testament comes from a verb which essentially means ‘to turn,’ meaning we were going in one direction and then we ‘turned’ to go in the opposite direction.
Repentance begins in the heart. When we turn from seeking happiness from the world to pursuing happiness in a relationship with God, when we stop pursuing the deceitful thrill the world offers and instead receive the free gift of God’s grace, accomplished for us by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ…this is repentance. Repentance is this turn in the heart, a shift from desiring one happiness toward desiring God himself. When the Holy Spirit stirs in us and causes this awakening of the heart, we find God is our new and greater desire and affection (Ephesians 2:8; John 3:8; Ezekiel 36:26-27). When this happens, John Piper, in his book Desiring God, says God becomes “a new taste” for us.
After we have become satisfied with God as our new affection, we then respond to this joy and want to express it in the way we live. Therefore, the resulting actions of obedience are not the repentance itself; they are only the effects, or fruit, caused by repentance.
When we find ourselves out of accord with God’s will, we must ask Him to change, not our actions, which are only the effects of what we desire, but instead to change our desire and our affections. We must ask Him to transform our hearts into ones who seek and desire and love Him above all else. And we don’t just do this once. We have to ask God to perform the miracle of Repentance in our hearts every day. We need Jesus to regularly show us the truth of His claim in John 7:37-38: Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
Anyone who is thirsty may come and drink!
Rivers of living water will flow from his heart!
Let us take Him at his word; let us go to Him each day asking Him to satisfy us, and we will find He not only satisfies our hearts, He will transform our life.
When my heart seeks meaning, beauty, adventure, or security, from anything other than You, Oh Lord, remind me You alone are my source. You alone change my heart. You alone are the faithful One who provides what I desperately need.
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