During the reign of Tiberius Caesar, in 27 A.D., God sent a young man [John] to be His messenger to prepare the way for the Messiah, who would come just after him. This man lived in the wilderness, the desert area of Judea; he wore garments made of camel’s hair and wore a leather girdle around his waist; his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey. His dress was typical for those who would be considered the poorest of the land in the time that he lived. His diet would seem very peculiar to us, but was common for the poor people living at that time.
Regardless of how poor or strange we may think of his lifestyle, John the Baptist came with a very important message to give to the people of Israel. He lived in the area around the Jordan River and all the people of Jerusalem, Judea and the regions surrounding the Jordan went out to see this man and to hear his message. What was the message that he had for them, the message entrusted to him from God to give to the people of Israel? His message was simply: “repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)
He had come to prepare the way for Jesus the Messiah, and His ministry was to preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Mark 1:1-8 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; 7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
John’s ministry paved the way for Jesus to begin His ministry; both were united in purpose in their preaching about repentance, that would pave the way for the eventual salvation of the world, of all those who would choose to accept to live the way God prescribes for mankind.
Luke 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
The Mission of John and of Elijah
76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
When Jesus began His ministry after John had been preaching and baptizing in the wilderness, His first recorded message as written in the Bible, was to preach about repentance; His words were, “…repent and to believe the gospel.”
Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Repentance: this word and what it stands for is of such supreme importance, so vital to the overall plan of salvation that without it there is no salvation, no turning from our sinful ways, no growth, only a looking forward to destruction and death and not to a glorious life everlasting. Repentance is the catalyst that begins the process of translating a person from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.
Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
The sincerely repentant are redeemed by Christ’s blood, that is true; but the first thing we have to do in order to be forgiven, is to repent of our sins against our Creator. It is this prerequisite action that begins in the mind, that is absolutely necessary for the other important actions that follow repentance.
John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Jesus preached in Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Peter told the crowd that gathered at Pentecost to: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)
The English definition for repent:
1.To amend or resolve to amend one’s life as a result of contrition for one’s sins.
2.To change one’s mind with regard to past or intended action, conduct, etc. on account of regret or dissatisfaction.
3.To feel regret, contrition, or compunction for what one has done or omitted to do.
The Greek word for repent is metanoeite (Strong’s #3340) it means: to change one’s mind or purpose, to think differently; or afterwards i.e. reconsider (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct).
In Matthew 3:7, it says that when John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to be baptized, he said to them “O generation of vipers (venomous snakes) who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”
In saying that they were the children of Abraham, the Pharisees and Sadducees thought of themselves as being righteous because they were his children and because of their link to him and his faithfulness; they could not really see any need to repent of their own sins. Their “righteousness” was a facade and they apparently wanted to be baptized under false pretenses, to impress the people; but John was able to discern their true heart and told them that they needed to show certain fruits or proofs of true repentance if they really were to be forgiven for their sins and be baptized. What he was basically saying, was that they needed to examine their hearts and their behavior to determine if the fruits of repentance was evident, and if it was, then they truly could be called Abraham’s sons. (Galatians 3:6-8)
2nd Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Each year as we approach the Passover season and we are admonished by Scripture to examine our lives as we get ready to partake of the bread and the wine, we need to ask ourselves; what does John mean to bring forth fruits meet for repentance? If we just change our minds about something we are doing that is wrong, isn’t it enough to just look at it, confess it and then forget about it? I don’t mean that we need to keep a guilt trip hanging over our shoulder, for God says that we are to come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrew 4:15-16) But as John told the religious leaders, looking for the fruits or proofs that we are changing our lives, can serve as a kind of measuring rod or barometer to see if we really are repentant.
If we look at the definition of repentance we see that to bring forth fruit would mean to show forth the proof of a changed heart that really has repented of the sin in our lives. So just like there is the fruit of the spirit, John says in this verse, that there are fruits of repentance. Is there anywhere else in the Bible that defines what those fruits are? One place is in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.
This is what Paul had to say to them in his letter as he commended them of certain things after they had repented of tolerating the man in their congregation who had been sinning with his father’s wife. The Corinthian congregation had responded to Paul’s command to disfellowships the sinner for his own good and for the good of the congregation. (1st Corinthians 5:13)
2nd Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance:for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
The antecedent of true repentance is godly sorrow, which if it is truly godly will bring about repentance and a CHANGE of behavior. Godly sorrow is not the same as repentance itself, but it is a good preparative to repentance, and is an intense heartfelt emotion or pain that can motivate us to repent of our sins.
2nd Corinthians 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Paul is saying that he can see that they had really repented in this matter. In Galatians 5:23-24 we read of nine traits of the Holy Spirit that indicate that one has the Holy Spirit. In these verses Paul lists seven fruits or proofs (indications) of real repentance as evidence that one has really repented. He praises the Corinthians for repenting of their sin as he says that these fruits were wrought in them: carefulness, clearing of yourselves, indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal and revenge.
*Carefulness: The Greek word is spouden (Strong’s #4710) and means haste, diligence, it’s root is from the Greek word speúdō, (Strong’s #4692) which means to “move quickly, “speedy diligence” (intensity). (a) speed, haste, (b) diligence, earnestness, enthusiasm, forwardness.
Carefulness then means all these things but basically the Corinthians were diligent and enthusiastic to repent of this matter of sin in their midst and were on fire to make things right. When Paul first became aware of this sin he implied that they had been lax, and very casual in tolerating this man and what he was doing: this could even mean that they had a Laodician type attitude about what was happening and it appears they were indifferent to their spiritual responsibility to rid this sinful leaven from the congregation and themselves.
1st Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
But Paul then says in his second letter, after they had repented, that they had used “carefulness” (diligence) to speedily or with eagerness, earnestness, enthusiasm repent: and did what they needed to do to set things right.
If one truly repents; one of the fruits of that repentance will be diligence and by it you can see some proof that the repentance is real.
The Corinthians were NOW applying their knowledge of God and had put His Word into diligent obedience in this regard. God will empower us to accomplish what is right and good if we do our part in being diligent. We often get somewhat lazy in applying ourselves; but real sorrow over our sins, motivates us to the action of repentance; the action of a diligent effort to accomplish the CHANGE that needs to take place, whether it be sins of commission or omission.
*Clearing of yourself: The Greek word is apologia (Strong’s #627) means defense, “intelligent reasoning” – properly, a well-reasoned reply; a thought-out response to adequately address the issue(s) that is raised. The Greek root word of apologia is aololuho (Strong’s #628) and means to “wash away” or to “wash oneself” which seems to fit better in this particular context; as when one washes away the dirt or sin, then things become clearer (or cleaner).
The members in the Corinthian congregation at first were not dealing with the filth of this sin in their midst and it was harming their reputation and they were not glorifying God by allowing the stain of tolerating a man that was doing despicable things.
Paul tells us in 2nd Thessalonians 5:22 to “Abstain from all [even the] appearance of evil.”
And in 1st Corinthians an 5:13. Paul says in no uncertain terms “….put away from among yourselves that wicked person!” And not only was this person and his sin staining their reputation but they were in danger of being influenced by him, because it is by walking with wise people that we become wise, but if we associate with those who claim to be believers but are openly sinning in an “in-your-face” type of way, we will only suffer harm and slowly we will begin to think and act like they do. (Proverbs 13:20) It is a natural consequence and is why God is so adamant about His holy people staying away from willfully wicked, sinning people, and casting them out of our assemblies.
Haggai 2:11 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.
Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. Brethren, we live in such a generation.
So this was another indication or proof of repentance by putting this man out of their congregation; they had cleared their name and had restored their reputation in their group, and in the sight of men and of God.
1st Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
1st John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
In genuine repentance, the person will wash himself in the blood of Christ’s sacrifice, and God will clean away the dirt and stain from his heart and his reputation; and he will be spiritually clean again. If we repent, it is God that will wash us and take away the sin.
*Indignation: The Greek word is aganaktésis (Strong’s #24) and it means: feeling of anger, indignation, vexation, to be greatly afflicted, be much (sore) displeased. Have (be moved with) indignation or anger.
An English definition: anger excited by that which is unworthy, base, or disgraceful; righteous wrath.
An example is when Jesus threw the money changers out of the Temple
John 2:14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
After Paul had pointed out to the Corinthians their sin, they became filled with indignation, an emotion directed by righteous anger toward things that are not right. They were angry over what they had allowed and then drove the sin from their midst because of their righteous indignation. If we see that we have sin in our lives or are allowing sin to creep in, then we too are justified in becoming angry over it and let it motivate us to repent, and here again, Paul says that this was proof that the Corinthians had indeed repented.
Deuteronomy 29:28 And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.
Nahum 1:6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
Sin often does and should evoke a kind of strong emotion of righteous anger, and if directed at sin as God does with His indignation, this righteous anger at sin can be a tremendous tool in rooting out sin when we find sin within ourselves.
When applied in this way, this too is an indicator that shows up as a fruit of repentance.
*Fear: The Greek word is phobon (Strong’s #5401) and means panic, flight, fear, the causing of fear, terror.
English definition: to fear is to have painful emotion marked by alarm; dread, disquiet. A state or habit of fearing, anxious concern, solicitude, awe; profound reverence especially for God.
If we truly do fear God in a healthy way, then we will fear to sin against Him and will quickly and diligently repent of sin when we become aware of it. As David says in this psalm; “he thought on his ways and made haste to turn himself to keep God’s commandments.”
Psalm 119:59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. 60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
Psalm 119:38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear. 39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
This is another fruit of repentance; to have this kind of fear to disobey God and to repent quickly when we discover the sin in ourselves. Having the fear of God will also prevent us from sinning and is for our good.
Exodus 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
Deuteronomy 6:24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
Deuteronomy 8:6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
*Vehement Desire: The Greek word is epipothéō (Strong’s #1971, and from potheō #1909) and means to yearn for properly, to long for, especially as it is fitting (apt) i.e. builds on (Gk epi, “upon”) the objective, “yearn affectionately,” having a great affection for, to have a yearning love for, i.e. to long for, strain after, desire greatly, indicates a strong and persistent craving, not necessarily sin, but often it can be sin. In this case it is a good fruit: A strong intense persistent craving for the things of, and the keeping of, the righteousness of the whole word of God.
We know from experience that if a person doesn’t really want to change, he won’t. But if he comes to the point of really wanting to change something in his life, he will take the necessary steps to make that change come about.
It is like someone who tries to quit a bad habit; for instance smoking. If family members, who care about the person, nag at him to quit, usually that person will make a half-hearted effort to quit.
To really succeed at quitting, the person has to come to the place where he from his heart has a vehement desire to quit.
If someone could care less whether he is really obeying God, and prefers to continue with his own ways, that would show that there is not much vehement desire to follow God.
The thing that takes up most of our attention, some kind of goal that we have set for ourselves, something that we vehemently long for, is what we will be focused on, whether it is money, a career, to become famous, building a new house, approval of friends or family, etc., etc.
God has put the capacity in us to long and yearn for things, but He wants us to long for things that are right and good, like seeking after HIS righteousness and truth. Our recent study on the beatitude of hungering and thirsting after righteousness is a clear example of having this vehement desire to be filled with the Word of God and His righteousness.
One who is is truly repentant will have a deep burning desire to change, and then will apply himself to change, he will sacrifice and do whatever it takes; and this is why vehement desire is one of the fruits of repentance.
The Corinthians fulfilled their desire to be righteous in God’s eyes, by changing their attitude and behavior toward the sin of tolerating this man’s sin, who had been previously allowed to fellowship in their midst. If we vehemently desire to be righteous we will repent whenever we see the need to do so, another fruit of repentance.
1st Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
*Zeal: the Greek word is zeo or zelos (Strong’s #2204, 2205) and it means to be hot, boiling, of liquids: or glow, of solids i.e. be fervent (intense, earnest) fervency, jealousy, zeal.
The English definition:
1. enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal, and tireless diligence in its furtherance.
2. fervent or enthusiastic devotion, often extreme or fanatical in nature, as to a religious movement, political cause, ideal, or aspiration, prompt wiliness, 3. enthusiasm, passion, zest, fire, spirit, warmth, devotion, ardor, fervor, eagerness, gusto, militancy, fanaticism, ardor, earnestness,keenness, fervency.
3 A feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favor of a person or cause)
4 Excessive fervor to do something or accomplish some end
5 Feeling of great warmth and intensity
6 Prompt willingness
7 Cheerful compliance
Zeal is similar to some of the other fruits of repentance, but in fact, is a quality that is very intense and amplifies the other fruits.
Zeal signifies ardor, fervent enthusiasm, whole-hardheartedness, and a passion for accomplishing a task or giving of our lives and of our time to a worthwhile cause. The kind of zeal Paul is talking about in this verse is a zeal for God; about studying, learning His Word, applying it to our lives and then growing and overcoming. God wants us to have zeal toward Him, His whole Word and His cause, the work that He is doing here on earth; helping men and women to be like Him.
Zeal is the incentive that spurs us to show a labor of love even if we think we are not feeling too well at certain times. Sometimes we do get tired and weary and we can feel like giving in to that tiredness and want to be lazy; but having a passion, or a zeal for the cause, for which we believe in; will carry us through those feelings.
It is like a mother who has a baby that wakes her up in the middle of the night wanting to be fed. The mother has worked all day and may not feel like waking up, getting up our of her warm, cozy bed, go get the baby and feed him. But her concern and zeal of wanting the very best for the well being of her child, keeping him from going hungry or feeling pain; motivates her to do what is needed, even when she feels tired. An athlete who is zealous for his sport and wants to help his team win at sporting competitions, may not feel like getting up at 3:00 A.M. to practice before school, but his zeal for the cause of winning compels him to get up in time to practice, even if he doesn’t really feel like practicing some mornings. Zeal motivates one to drive on and to push forward.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Revelation speaks of the lack of this zeal in the Ekklesia in the message to the Laodicea Church.
Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Before the Corinthians repented, they lacked real zeal for God and His commandments, His righteousness and purity, as evidenced by tolerating a man who was far from pure at that time. But as they repented, Paul says that they became zealous and he commends them for becoming passionate, full of zeal for God and for His cause. Previously they were like the Church of Laodicea as talked about in Revelation 3. When Paul became aware of their sin and that they were not addressing it in any way, Paul was used by God as a type of human messenger for Christ, to knock on their door asking them to “let Christ in” to let Him be their true focus and their Master, and not to tolerate evil things in their midst.
These people had been deceived into thinking that tolerating wickedness among them, was somehow a demonstration of godly love; when it was the opposite. Godly love condemns sin, and corrects and convicts the sinner of his sin, so that he genuinely sorrows over sin and repents to do that sin no more.
The Corinthians heard Christ’s knock through Paul’s rebuke and did let Christ in; and as Paul commends them for it in his letter, this was a proof of, and a fruit of, their sincere repentance.
*Revenge: The Greek word is ekdikeo (Strong’s #1556) and means to vindicate, retaliate, punish. Sometimes it is translated “vindication”.
English Definition of revenge:
1. the act of retaliating for wrongs or injury received; vengeance
2. something done as a means of vengeance
3. the desire to take vengeance or retaliate
4. (General Sporting Terms) a return match, regarded as a loser’s opportunity to even the score
5. to inflict equivalent injury or damage for (injury received); retaliate in return for
6. to take vengeance for (oneself or another); avenge
7. One commentary describes it as “setting things aright”
This word seems somewhat out of place for Christians to be doing, and to seek revenge in a negative way can be a very destructive thing to do as a way of getting back at someone for a wrong that they have done to us. But here Paul is using this word in the sense of correcting those who are sinning and are in need of being rebuked, and in need of being told of their sins; and when they refuse to repent, inflicting the kind of correction that God lays out in His Word. Like distancing ourselves from the sinner and his sin, or as a group disfellowshiping him, or if the group as an organization is sinning, to remove ourselves from the group.
And this is done in the sense of “maintaining godly righteousness,” or “setting things right,” when applied in a godly sense. And that is what the Corinthians did. As a result of their conviction and repentance, they set things right regarding the man who was sinning. They put the person out of their fellowship and thus inflicted punishment on him which turned out to be a very good thing. They in essence, were used as God’s instruments of His righteous revenge [correction] by punishing their fellow church member through putting him out of the Ekklesia that his spirit might be saved when Jesus returns.
1st Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
As a result of this type of revenge, the man repented and was later welcomed back into their fellowship.
As Christians who seek to examine our lives to see what needs to be adjusted, tweaked, fixed, cleaned up, changed, i.e. REPENTED of; we too can apply a sense of vindication toward ourselves as well, causing us to own up to the sins we see still lurking in our souls (see Psalm 19:11-14) and then to endure whatever we may have to do to “set things right” in our hearts and in our habits and behavior, no matter how much it costs us or no matter what we have to sacrifice (maybe a job, an unhealthy relationship, bad habits, or being negligent in our duties as believers, etc.) and by doing so we show forth the proof or that fruit of repentance.
Hebrews 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
1st Corinthians 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
If we judge or if we determine that we are sinning, and we go about to set it right; then God doesn’t need to judge us and chasten us in respect to that sin. I find this very sobering yet comforting as this verse greatly motivates me to judge myself before He has to. (Especially when I know from past experience what it is like to be judged and chastened by the Lord if I’m not doing it myself.)
1st Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
From this study of 2nd Corinthians 7:11, we see that this verse contains a whole package of qualities; fruit, choice fruit that is very, very good for us, that will serve us well in our Christian walk; and in the process of continually repenting, we will grow and be examples to all those who are in our lives, whether they are unconverted or they are our spiritual brethren.
If we have these fruits of repentance it will show that we truly have repented and that we are humble enough to apply them in our lives; and it will give us a sense of peace at being at one with God and living according to His will; we will feel washed and therefore clean, we will have a proper fear of God, we will feel vindicated, we will have vehement desire toward God and the things of God and will be zealous for His purpose and plan; and if we continue to use these gifts (for they are truly precious gifts to us from God) throughout our lives as we see that we have need, we can grow, blossom, and produce even more fruit; including the fruit of the Spirit. By this, we can teach ourselves and others of the necessity of proper “examining of ourselves” from time to time, just as we are exhorted to do so before Passover and into the Days of Unleavened Bread.
This subject fits in so well with our previous studies of the beatitudes as we compare ourselves with the high standard of the holy, righteous character of our Father in heaven and His Son. As we study, pray, meditate upon what they are like and how righteous and holy they really are; it will give us a true sense of our own total weakness and frailty as human beings. It takes real humility to admit that we need their help and power to even begin to put these things into practice; we really do need to become poor in spirit and to hunger and thirst for their righteousness, and only those who will submit themselves to the rigorous demands of giving up their own ego and pride and put forth the efforts will have these fruits in their lives.
Repentance is one of the hinges on the door that opens the way for us to truly become more and more like our Father and His Son, shaped in their image, our minds trained to think like they think and we will desire to live as they live; to wit, become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. If we cheerfully and willingly take on these fruits, we will reap the rewards of being in the resurrection of the just and we will be given eternal life living with God the Father and His Son; we will be part of the “manifestation of the of the sons of God” working with them to restore the whole earth and beyond, to a glorious, holy and righteous environment for all of mankind (and all of God’s creatures as well, Romans 8:18-23).
Just as the Pharisees and Sadducees who came out to hear John the Baptist preach, we too can think that just because we are “descendants of Abraham” [Called Out] so to speak, we like them, can claim that because we are baptized church members, because we seem to keep the Sabbath and Holy Days, because we don ‘t keep Christmas or Easter; because are part of a particular group, or recognize the authority of certain teachers; that we are in good standing with God.
But these things are only outward visual effects and are not really the proofs of repentance. In saying that they were the children of Abraham; the Pharisees and Sadducees thought of themselves as being already righteous; they could really see no need to repent of their own sins because they thought of themselves as being OK because of their association with great men (like Abraham and Moses).
What John was basically saying, was that they needed to examine their hearts and their behavior to determine if the fruits of repentance were evident and if they were, then they truly could be called Abraham’s sons, just as we can be called the spiritual sons of Abraham, if we truly are bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. It takes a lot of diligent soul searching and hard work, but this is what we must be doing at this time if we are really serious about our calling.
2nd Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
How Deep is Your Love
God the Father showed the depth of his love for us when he sent the Creator to be divested of his God-hood and be made flesh that he might die for his creation, so that we could become sons of the Father.
Jesus Christ demonstrated his love for us, when he gave his life for us, when we were yet sinners and his enemies.
Jesus said in: John 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
John tells us 1st John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
1st John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
The scriptures clearly tell us that to love God is to keep his word!
We also know that the sin is the breaking of the word of God; 1st John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
And that breaking God’s word separates us from God.
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Now if we really deeply love another and we find a problem in our relatuonship which separates us from our beloved; what do we do?
In our physical relationships, if we have a spat with a passionately loved spouse, we usually are separated by daily activities. We burn and boil in passion for our own way, and slowly the heat cools and we begin to see things in a much different light as we realize that we have offended the one that we love above all else.
Then we begin to be filled with fear that our relationship has been damaged and within hours most would be rushing to our beloved to try and resolve and repair the breach.
What about our spiritual relationships?
As we learn, what do we do, when we realize that we have sinned and separated ourselves from our beloved espoused spiritual Husband and our Father in heaven?
Are we full of passionate love for God and his word; to seek to please him with our whole hearts? or are we more concerned about getting our own way?
The depth of our conversion can be judged by how quickly we sorrow over our sin and repent, by how quickly we RUN to reconcile with our Beloved Father and our Husband!
The zeal of the church of God groups today is a zeal of words; without the actions, the fruits and the deeds of true sorrow over our own ways and sins, and true repentance unto godliness. Like the Pharisees in John’s day, we do NOT love God in deeds, but only in words; preferring our own ways over any real love for keeping the whole word of God.
Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
Laodicea means: “The people will be judged and corrected;” mainly for saying “I love God”, while having no zeal to learn and to keep the whole word of God; openly rejecting the truth and warnings God has provided to them.
Let us each continually study, reflect upon and internalize the whole word of God; seeking passionately to please and to become like our God always. Let us be doers and not merely hearers of the word of God! And when we find greater understanding, let us test it against the word of God, and if found consistent with the whole word of God, let us passionately embrace it and make the needed changes in our lives; for by doing so, we reveal to God the depth of our love for the Father and the Son, and for all their ways!
1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.
5 There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.
6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge.
7 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
Psalm 14 Commentary
Psalm 14 is a wisdom psalm and is attributed to David as the author; it has three main themes:
1. a description of the pervasiveness of evil,
2. a declaration that final judgment is coming,
3. An enthusiastic affirming prayer that God is going to bring His kingdom to earth and that it will reign supreme; salvation will come out of Zion and will spread to all mankind then living and then Jacob (Israel) will truly and whole-hardheartedly rejoice for what God has done.
*Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
The psalmist speaks of the foolishness of men who think that there is no God. They live their lives oblivious to the fact that God is real, that it is He who created the whole universe and sustains it by His power, that He has laws; physical and spiritual that when defied, break us and cause all kinds of havoc in our lives, and collectively bring destruction and misery to the whole order of the world in which we live.
When God speaks of the fool, he is not talking about a mentally inept and clumsy person, but of those who refuse to acknowledge Him and His greatness. For most people, they live their lives as if there is no God at all, and if they do believe in any kind of a God, they think that He is very far off somewhere and it really doesn’t matter (to them) the fact there is a God. He is a very vague concept to them and they just do not think that much about what He thinks, or how He views them and how they should live their lives. They believe that God does not see nor care what they do, and their view of death is that it is the cessation of physical life as they know it. Their focus is on the physical pleasures of this world and material things and that takes up most of their thoughts and desires.
*Psalm 14:2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
In contrast to what men think of God as being far off, He is the opposite and He looks down and can see everything and He knows everything; this verse describes the omniscience of God! And He is looking for those who might be seeking for Him.
*Psalm 14:3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10)
God sees that the whole world lies in wickedness and that all the people on earth are to some degree or another in rebellion against Him and the keeping of His moral laws. Their sins are keeping them separated from Him; every person stands guilty of breaking His laws. Jesus told the young rich ruler that there is no man that should be called good but only God. (Luke 18:18-19)
*Psalm 14:4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.
God can also see the oppression and people constantly trying to take advantage of each other, and He sees those who persecute His faithful and it grieves Him. The oppressors have no knowledge of God’s truth and of what it means to live a godly life; of caring for each other and treating others with love and respect; instead they try to do harm to those who are trying to be faithful to Him.
*Psalm 14:5 There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.
God has called out a small number of people from their bondage to sin at this time, to seek Him and His ways. They are the ones that have sorrowed and who weep over sin, those who have sorrowed unto repentance and have received forgiveness of their sins by the sacrifice of the Messiah, the Son of God, the called out faithful who hunger and thirst to be filled with His righteousness.
His people become targets of the wicked because they are different and because of the way they live their lives. Those who strive to obey God in all things, convict the conscious of the disobedient and it makes them feel uncomfortable to be around those, who by their example and by their exhortation to repent, make them feel guilty; and it offends them to think that these godly people are telling them that they are wrong in what they believe and how they should live their lives; even if the righteous don’t say a word, their example by how they live their lives, speaks volumes to the wicked.
God says that He is with the His people and lives amongst those who are faithful, have given their lives to Him and belong to Him.
*Psalm 14:6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge.
God opposes those who oppose His children and He brings their counsel to nothing; if not right away, will at some point if they are patient and continue to look to Him for refuge and deliverance. God protects and provides a refuge for those who are faithful and shelters them from the evil that pervades the society around them; if they are seeking to obey in the whole Word of God.
*Psalm 14:7 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
David concludes his psalm with an impassioned prayer, that Jesus Christ would return and would take the reigns of rulership from all the foolish people of the world. He looks forward to that time, as do all those who are truly God’s people; to the time when God is going to return to Zion. He will set up His kingdom and He is going to bring the captives back to their homeland, their real home. Not only is He going to deliver them from physical captivity but He is going to deliver them from spiritual captivity. He will lift the veil that has kept most of humanity from being able to understand that God is real and that He is sovereign over all, that he has made them and expects them to fear Him and to keep His laws.
For all of their lives most of the people who have ever lived and died have not had the understanding of God’s true purpose for them and the truth of who God is and what He is doing. When God calls them, they will finally see that they have been foolish all of their lives and will have come to see that living for carnal pleasure and going after the vain things of this world were futile and only brought misery, disease and death.
When God brings them back from spiritual captivity, they will not be fools anymore and they will rejoice: all of Israel will be glad and will be filled with much joy when they finally see that God’s ways bring true and lasting happiness; real blessings that out shine all the things that they thought would bring them happiness by living for pleasure and going against the ways of God. They will come to understand that their human perception of happiness was elusive and vain as they sought to bless themselves by breaking all of God’s commandments and trying to take from others and use them for their own gain.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of this future reality in Isaiah 29.
Isaiah 29:22 Therefore thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. 23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. 24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.
This is God’s promise that all who have lacked understanding will eventually be convicted of their evil ways and will be taught all of God’s doctrines. Even if they were fools in previous times while living in this present evil world, they will come to understanding and they will learn to fear God and keep His whole Word.
The murmuring/complaining about how there is no God or that if there is a God, He is not a God of mercy or justice will cease; as finally they will come to know their true purpose and that they too can become part of God’s family, if they repent and seek to know and live the righteousness of God.
The key word is “repent,” for repentance changes how they think and believe, and will motivate them to reflect their change of heart and attitude; by following through with seeking to follow and obey God. The future is very bright for all those who will repent and believe God, for then all will be living in God’s righteous ways in His Kingdom, they will live at peace with each other and will come know the Almighty One, the Holy God of Israel, and how much He really does love them!
Along with King David, we too pray; “thy Kingdom come” and so look forward to that day!
Summary Scripture: Joel 2:12
Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil [The evil meaning the correction of God; which is not evil in the modern sense, but which the suffering of correction for our own good.].