Sermon Title: A Radical Question – Luke 3:1-14
“John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Luke 3:7-8a
Mike pointed out that John recognized the intentions within the hearts of those who came to be baptized. He said, “These snakes wanted to avoid the danger of fire, but remain as snakes. John was declaring, ‘You want to avoid hell, but still live like a hellion.’”
Repentance goes much deeper than external behavior.
Many believers approach repentance as a process of incremental change. What we need is deep change. Robert Quinn, in his book called Deep Change, describes the difference between incremental and deep change. His insights shed important light on how we should approach repentance from sin.
Incremental change –
- Is the result of rational analysis and planning
- Outlines steps needed to reach a goal
- Is limited in scope – confined to one area or issue in life
- Is reversible – if change doesn’t work out we can return to the old ways
- Is an extension of the past – a slight alteration
- Is non-disruptive
- Allows me to retain control
By contrast, deep change –
- Requires a new way of thinking and behaving
- Is broad and reaching in scope – touching the entire person
- Is discontinuous with the past – nothing will be the same
- Is irreversible – there is no going back
- Requires risk
- Alters the trajectory of the future
- Demands that I surrender control
Most Christians, myself included, excel at sin management. I can keep my behavior in check enough to keep from “acting out” in sin. Externally this gives the appearance that I’ve changed. True repentance goes much further than behavior modification. Repentance produces a deep change, a radical transformation of the heart such that my life and behavior are forever different.
The truth is that I can alter my behavior without repentance, leading to a significant change in my heart. But I cannot experience repentance that leads to a deep change in my heart without altering my behavior.
At what point in my spiritual journey did I experience the transformational power of repentance?
How did that re-order my way of thinking and behaving?
What old patterns of living have I not gone back to as a result of this deep change?