Tonight, we will focus attention on the heartbeat of FreedomMinistry, “The Discipline of Repentance,” and strengthen our wills to make surrender decisions that release the grace of the Cross into our lives. When repentance becomes a discipline, we are walking a path of personal transformation, trusting spiritual power and authority available from God, and making the Cross our source and resource of redemption. Repentance activates the power of the Cross.
Once you understand repentance, it will become new, favorite thing to do. You will schedule “repentance parties” instead of Monday Night football with the guys. You will look forward to repentance more than fishing and hunting. You will pop some popcorn and settle into your family room for a relaxing session of life-change! You will find more joy and satisfaction for your soul in activating God’s transformational power than any other of your favorites activities.
I Change to Be Changed
Repentance means “changing your mind.” When repentance is genuine toward God, it sets you up for God’s transformative power. So, repentance means “I change to be changed.”
Repentance breaks cycles of behavior. Since much of our behavior is based upon habit and much of our thinking is based upon habits of thinking or attitudes, believers can empower their behaviors and attitudes through repentance. The repentance breaks the cycles and establishes a basis for right action and thinking. This produces lasting life-change.
Repentance manifests in behavior. John says, “Produce the fruit of repentance.” Or, show your heart change in action. While this is something all of us would embrace, we discover our limitations in this area rather quickly. It is very difficult to stop unwanted behaviors and attitudes and establish new behaviors and attitudes.
Paul clarifies that the way we find out what God wants is not through hearing about as much as doing it. We prove God’s will or what God wants through action and attitude transformation. Paul says, “Stop shaping your life by the input of this world [or allowing it to shape you]. Instead, be changed inside out, behavior-change based upon a changed mind; in this way, you may prove what God wants.” [Romans 12:2]
God exposes areas of personal need, the places you need to change, and repentance is our proper response. Repentance will set Holy Spirit’s strategy to change you into place. Until you surrender, you are dealing with your issues. God will allow your issues to “get out on you.” And, that revealing of the hidden things will be your cause to repent when you have the discipline of repentance functioning in your life.
The power of the Cross is fully available for all men for all issues, but as long as you are dealing with your issues, the power of the Cross isn’t dealing with them. If you could change yourself, the Cross would not have been necessary. You cannot, so Jesus did. Repentance release the grace of the Cross into your life! Grace is the enabling power or capacity of God; and in this case, that grace is given to set you free! Grace is strength! Grace is power! Grace enables you to do something you could never do without it. Repentance releases grace.
Repentance isn’t “I’m so sorry I got caught.” That kind of thinking will immediately start looking for an excuse or justification for your issues. The fruit of repentance is changed behavior. John says, “The axe is laid at the root of the tree.” Jesus is going to deal with your issues at the source, at the root of the fruit.
Unquenched Spiritual Fire
John the Baptist introduced the message of repentance in preparation for the arrival of Messiah Jesus. His message was brought into its fullness with the Message empowered by the Cross. Before Jesus repentance was preparation for His coming, a water baptism unto repentance. After the Cross, repentance applies a new baptism that touches the entire person. Both baptisms continue in this season, and both aspects of repentance continue to function as well. Repentance that brings new birth and repentance that activates the Cross are valid and strategic.
That is, being born anew by the power of the Cross isn’t the end of the operation of the Cross’ power in your life. You don’t come to the Cross, get saved, and leave it behind. You come to the Cross, repent in preparation to receive spiritual life, then you pick up the Cross and carry it with you so you can live the life you just received.
John introduced Jesus with this prophetic revelation: “I certainly do baptize with water unto repentance, but Someone is coming after me who will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire. His fan is in His hand and He will complete cleanse his threshing floor and throw the chaff into an unquenchable fire.”
John’s prophetic symbolism was easily understood by his generation, but we must stop here for an explanation. Once the grain came in from the field, the outer shell or husk must be separated from the kernel of wheat inside. The “chaff” on the outside was waste and unusable. Without machinery to thresh and separate life from death, waste from bread-making seed, the harvested grain was piled onto a floor, scooped up and thrown into the air to loosen the husks from the seed.
The “fan” was a large leaf or woven, mat-like blade that moved directed air over the floor to blow the husk away as the grain fell back into the pile. To the other side a fire was built so burn the worthless chaff. The fan waving blew separated chaff from the grain, allowing cleansed seed to fall into the pile, and the fire consumed the chaff.
In John’s scenario, a deeper, spiritual work was coming along with water baptism’s prophetic picture of old and new life: Jesus was going to work on the harvest grain of newly-saved people in ways John could not. He would take repentance to a deeper level because He would have the power to completely cleanse, by spiritual fire, the newly-born. His fan blows separated chaff into an unquenchable fire. He throws the grain into the air, exposing it to the wind and fire of the Spirit, separating what is death and waste from what is life and bread or seed.
In this picture, “He will completely cleanse His floor,” and “the fire that is not quenched’ says, “He will never stop until everything that stands between you and your destiny is removed and destroyed!” As Oswald Chambers said, Jesus has no sympathy for anything that stand between you and the fullness of your destiny. Jesus won’t stop exposing you to the wind of the Spirit. Jesus won’t put out the burning fire that cleansing you. As John immersed in water, Jesus immerses you in this spiritual process until you are clean inside and out!
The Root of Rejection
The Father in Heaven wants you so much that Jesus created you. This is rock strata upon which you build your entire identity, so hell attacks the foundation. The attack comes in the form of rejection, and hell uses the most vulnerable experiences of your life to establish the lie that God doesn’t really want you.
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t need deliverance from rejection. Everyone of us has suffered rejection and experienced the feeling that we are not wanted.