Humble in Spirit

Friday, February 6, 2015, 11:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 3:1-20 (ESV).

Prepare the Way

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

John the Baptist, son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was called of God, even before he was conceived, to prepare people’s hearts to receive Jesus Christ. Isaiah, a Prophet of God, prophesied concerning him many years prior to his birth, as is recorded in Isaiah 40:3-5. In Luke 1 we read the words the angel Gabriel spoke to Zechariah concerning John. He would bring many of the people of Israel back to the Lord, and he would turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah said of him, after he was born, that he would give the Lord’s people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of God’s tender mercy. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus also taught repentance for the forgiveness of sins and so did the apostles.

Our salvation is and has always been about changed hearts and lives. A straight path is the way of righteousness. Pride will be brought down. The worship of false gods and idolatry of any kind will come crashing down, as well. The emptiness in our hearts, which we have tried to fill with the junk of this world, will be filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s presence – his grace, mercy and peace. Those who are living for sin and self and are doing what is evil in God’s eyes will have a change of heart and mind, and they will be filled up with Christ’s righteousness and will walk in holiness in the power of the Spirit within them. Our fears and anxieties and all our stressing over life and feeling as though we have to make things happen will be overtaken by the peace of God which transcends all human understanding.

It was always in God’s plan that our salvation would be about us turning from sin, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and following our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will and purposes for our lives – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, as we cooperate fully with that work (See: Ro. 6-8). This is true grace. If the grace you received does not require repentance (turning from sin) and following Christ in obedience, then it is a false grace, for true grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for our Lord’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). For Jesus Christ died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15).

In Keeping With Repentance

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

A person who is called a “viper” is venomous (deadly or toxic), vicious (nasty and cruel), and treacherous (untrustworthy, deceitful and/or double-crossing). Evidently there were Jews in the crowd who had come to be baptized, but not for the purpose of having changed hearts and minds, but either for the purpose of an outward show or because they believed that performing this ritual would somehow bring about their escape from God’s wrath. In Matthew’s gospel it is recorded that these vipers were among some of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were known for their religious hypocrisy. They liked to appear righteous on the outside, but inside their hearts were filled with all kinds of wickedness. In other words, their intentions were not pure and their motivations were not sincere.

There are many people today who may pray a prayer to receive Christ because they want to escape hell and have the promise of heaven when they die, but they never turn from their sin and they are convinced that God requires nothing of them in the way of repentance or obedience. They may not be vipers, though some may, but the result is still the same. No transformation of heart and mind has taken place. They are not born anew of the Spirit of God. They have merely gone through a religious exercise, but nothing has really changed other than perhaps they may now attend a religious service once or twice a week and they may clean up some of the bad things they used to do. Jesus did not save us, though, just so our old lives would be a little cleaner and look nicer on the outside. He died to radically change us from the inside out and to make us completely new creations in Christ Jesus.

When we are saved from our sins, we die to our old lives of living for sin and self, we are changed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we now have new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). Our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want, for we were bought with the price of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins. Our lives are now his to be lived for him and for his purposes and for his glory. How we live our lives from this point on should bear the marks of Jesus, i.e. it should be evident that we have turned from sin to now walk in the Spirit, no longer living to gratify our sinful desires. Instead, our lives should bear evidence that we are walking in Christ’s holiness and righteousness, though not in absolute perfection.

With the Holy Spirit

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

John was not the Savior of the people. His baptism could not produce lives transformed of the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and indwelt by the presence of Almighty God. His baptism could not produce lives born anew of the Spirit of God. He was just a servant of the Lord, a messenger sent to prepare the way for Christ and to prepare people’s hearts to receive Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who will cleanse, wash and purify our hearts with the Holy Spirit when we accept God’s invitation to his great salvation by God’s grace, through faith. This faith, as taught by John, Jesus and the apostles, involves us turning from our lives of sin and self, being changed in heart and mind, and walking in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, we are filled with the Spirit of God who then serves as our counselor, guide, teacher, and comforter, and who gives us the power and strength to live godly and holy lives.

So, if you have bought into a false grace, and you have believed that simply praying a prayer gets you your escape from hell and the promise of heaven but that you are not required to repent of your sins or to obey Christ’s commandments, then I pray you will examine the scriptures carefully, for that is not what they teach. In fact, in the book of 1 John we read that if we say we have fellowship with God but we continue to walk in sin, i.e. to live for sin and self, we are liars and the truth is not in us. It also says that if we say we know or we love God, but we do not keep Christ’s commandments (his word – his teachings and his instructions to us) that we are liars, and we don’t really know God. Obedience (not in sinless perfection) to what the Word teaches us is required for salvation (See: Ro. 6:16; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 2:3-5; 3:24; 5:3; 2 Jn. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:2), as is repentance (See: Acts 3:19-20; 17:29-31; 20:21; 26:20b; II Co. 7:10; II Tim 2:25-26; II Pet 3:9).

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.
I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.
Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.
Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.

http://originalworks.info/broken-and-contrite/

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