Summary: This sermon identifies 4 of the fruits of repentance and how they should affect our walk with God.
- Verse 8 of our passage puts before us the command to “bear fruits worthy of repentance.”
- The obvious and immediate question that comes to mind is, “What are the fruits of repentance?” Fortunately for us, our passage points us to four of the fruits of repentance.
- Repentance, of course, is an essential starting point of the Christian journey. We begin our walk with God by admitting that we need Jesus’ sacrifice and expressing our sorrow for the sin in our life. If we’ve had a genuine moment of repentance, we should necessarily see the fruits of repentance in our lives.
- As we study these fruits, keep in mind the harsh words of John the Baptist in v. 7, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” He is talking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were very religious but also very distant from God. Many of us here this morning could easily claim to be very religious, but if we are not bearing the fruits of repentance, we too are very distant from God.
Four Fruits Of Repentance This Passage Points Us Toward:
1. Verse 9.
- Here we are reminded not to rely on our family history. The Pharisees and Sadducees were quick to point out their Jewish family history as a proof of their closeness to God.
- Today we see similar displays as you ask people if they’re a Christian and they respond: “Oh, my family are all Methodists” or “Sure, my parents were Baptists.” Our parents or our family cannot believe for us; we each must choose to believe for ourselves.
- This leads us to the first fruit of repentance, which is humility.
- When we rely on our family history like the Pharisees and Sadducees, we get the ability to claim a relationship with God without the need to personally come to a moment of repentance. This creates a feeling of pride, rather than the humility that should characterize our relationship with God. (“My family has been in this church since 1964.” “My father helped to build that education wing.” “My mother led the women’s circle for probably twenty years.”)
- We see a similar phenomenon when people try to claim a closeness to God that is not based in grace. The person who believes their work for the church or their Sunday morning attendance or their large financial contribution is what is maintaining their link to God will be led to a pride in their works.
- When we begin at the point of repentance - bowing and admitting that we cannot earn our way into heaven, acknowledging our sin and questionable motives, speaking out our need for Jesus’ blood, asking for God to forgive us - there is a humility that comes into our hearts that cannot come in any other way. We are sinners and yet God has forgiven us anyway - that is a humbling place to be, because you have received what you did not deserve.
- Is your relationship with God characterized by humility, or are you lacking the fruit of repentance?
2. Verse 10a - “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.”
- Often in our lives we feel that the sins we commit are individually small enough for us to excuse. We
haven’t committed an axe-murder or gone on a shooting spree. Our sins are nothing major - we can get around to them another day.
- But this verse points us to a second fruit of repentance: urgency.
- When we come to a point of repentance, we realize our sins are not excusable. We recognize that, though we might be able to argue that our individual sins are small, the accumulated weight of even small sins puts in a most dangerous situation. We assess the truth of the situation and figure out: I’m in much worse shape than I thought I was.
- With repentance comes the awareness of the seriousness of our sins and the desire that flows
from that: to get this horrible problem taken care of right now.
- The way this fruit should continue to show up in our life is: we have come to the point of repentance and a realization of the seriousness of our sin; we experience the joy and relief of God’s forgiveness as we come to Him; we recognize that the cost of our forgiveness was Jesus’ death on the cross; understanding that our sin cost Jesus’ His life, we walk the journey of faith with the constant desire to become more like Him and to rid ourselves of the remaining sin in our lives. Not someday, but as soon as possible - because we recognize the urgency of the matter.