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Repentance and Change

(The following is the March 6 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Luke 3 and pay close attention to verses 7-14.)

When John the Baptist told people to “produce fruit consistent with repentance” (v. 8), several asked what they should do. John replied, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same” (v. 11). When tax collectors asked what they should do (v. 12), he replied, “Don’t collect any more than what you have been authorized” (v. 13). When soldiers repeated the question, he said, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages” (v. 14).

Note the specific, relevant changes John mentioned to his questioners. He first offered common ways a changed heart will respond. As other groups asked the equivalent of “What about us? How does this apply to us?” John gave them examples of what repentance could look like in their case.

Notably, those coming to John for a baptism of repentance expected their lives to change in some way if they truly repented. To repent is to turn from one direction and go in the opposite direction. God does not call us to stay as we are when we come to him in faith. He calls us to a new life that moves in a divine direction of becoming more Christlike.

What repentance looks like varies between individuals. The needed changes depend on one’s lifestyle and sinful patterns. The focus of our repentance should be whatever actions are inconsistent with a life surrendered to Christ and obedience to his Word. The convicting power of the Holy Spirit, the truth of his Word, and the faithful preaching and teaching of Scripture by others will clarify what repentance can look like for us.

Next Step:

Are you convicted to change some aspect of your life? Pray for God’s strength and wisdom in making that adjustment. If you are uncertain about areas needing change, ask God to reveal some. Trusted Christian friends and leaders can help with this as well.

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