Luke 13:3b is known as the ‘turn or burn’ passage. It says “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” This is scary stuff, but what does it all mean?
In the Gospel according to Matthew, in chapter 21, Jesus talks about 2 sons. Here is how the Message Bible presents it:
Jesus said “Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’
“The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went.
“The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went.
“Which of the two sons did what the father asked?”
They said, “The first.”
Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.”
This showed me that even if I’ve made a decision against God in the past or even if I am now living a life that I know is not right with God, He allows for me to change my mind. Additionally, He overlooks the earlier wrong decisions and accepts me.
In a nutshell, repentance is turning away from sin.
This is not an option.
Jesus allows us to turn around, change our mind right where we are, even if we blew it the first time. You might have had a bad start in life. You may have done things that you know were wrong, still it does not matter.
Life is full of choices. God allows you to erase the wrong choices you may have made by acknowledging them to him. He then gives you a clean sheet and lets you do a 180 and roll in the opposite direction.
That is the beauty of this relationship with Jesus. I have attached this week’s study on repentance.
Repentance is the first step we take to receive the salvation that God offers to us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
”’…God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven”’ (Acts 2:36-38). See also Acts 17:30.
A. WHAT REPENTANCE IS NOT
- Not Just Feeling Guilty
Feeling guilty about our sin comes before repentance, but is not repentance itself. No one repents unless they first feel guilty about their sin, but not all who feel guilty actually repent.
“As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘Thats enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you ”’ (Acts 24:25). Felix felt guilty but did not repent.
- Not Just Being Sorry For Your Sin
Some people are very sorry because of the consequences of their sin, or because they have been caught. Many people are sorry, not for what they have done wrong, but for the penalty they receive in being caught.
“Godly sorrow leads to repentance that brings salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Cor 7:10).
- Not Just Trying To Be A Good Person
Many people try in their own strength to become a better person and change their way of life. Any self-effort has a root of self-righteousness in it, which does not acknowledge the need of repentance from sin.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isa 64:6).
- Not Becoming Religious
The Pharisees in the Bible were extremely religious in behavior and practice. They fasted and prayed and had many religious ceremonies, yet never repented.
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
And do not say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt 3:7-10). See also Matthew 5:20).
- Not Just Knowing The Truth
Having an intellectual head-knowledge of truth does not necessarily guarantee that the truth has become a living reality in one’s life. Believing with the head and believing with the heart are different (see Romans 10:10).
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder. You foolish man, do you want further evidence that faith, without righteous deeds is useless?” (Jas 2:19,20)
B.WHAT TRUE REPENTANCE IS
- Being Sorry To God For Your Sin
True repentance is a sorrow not just toward one’s self, or toward another person, but first and foremost it is true sorrow towards God.
“Have mercy to me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have sinned and done what is evil in your sight..” (Ps51:1-4). See also Psalms 38:8.
- Being Truthful About Your Sin
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity, I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Ps 32:5). See also 1 John 1:9.
- Turning Away From Your Sin
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whosoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Prov 28:13).
- Hating Sin
“Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore…God has anointed thee..” (Heb 1:9).
“…and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done…” (Eze 20:43,44).
- When Possible, Paying Back To others What You Owe
“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount”’ (Luke 19:8) See also Leviticus 6:1-7).
C. WHAT REPENTANCE INVOLVES
- Turning From Sin
“Don’t be like your fathers were! The earlier prophets pled in vain with them to turn from all their evil ways. ‘Come, return from all their evil ways. ‘Come, return to me,’ the Lord God said. But no, they wouldn’t listen; they paid no attention at all” (Zech 1:4 tlb). See also Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:5.
- Turning From The World
“Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love these things you show that you do not really love God” (1 Jn 2:15 tlb). See also James 4:4.
- Turning From Yourself
“He dies for all so that all who live – having received eternal life from him – might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them” (2 Cor 5:15 tlb) See also Luke 14:26.
- Turning From The Devil
“….to open their eyes to their true condition so that they may repent and live in the light of God instead of in Satan’s darkness..” (Acts 26:18 tlb). See also Colosians 1:13.
- Turning to God
“Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘
Return to me.’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘ and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zech 1:3).
- Turning To Right-Living
“Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness” (Rom 6:13).
Today I decide to repent and will keep turning from sin as God reveals wrongdoing to me.