What Does True Repentance Look Like?

Matthew 3:1-12 says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” You can listen to my message on this text here or you can read the transcript here. Here is an excerpt from one section:

So we must define repentance accurately. Repentance is a radical, seismic transformation just like Isaiah said, “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight.”

True repentance is like an earthquake of the soul that changes the configuration of your life, and it is like the restructuring of the earth that happens when the hills are brought down and the valleys are raised up. This is the radical restructuring of life that is true Christianity.

We recently were horrified by the news about that gigantic earthquake in Japan. The coastline of Japan moved 13 feet, and it tilted the earth’s axis by 10 inches. The earth changed in the same way that Isaiah 40 explains – the hills were brought low and the valleys raised. Several years ago, there was another gigantic earthquake in Chile. The entire city of Concepción moved 10 feet to the west and the capital city, Santiago, moved as well. So this kind of geographical revolution is part of the picture of repentance.

How do earthquakes happen? They happen because the tectonic plates are pressing up against one another, creating tension. They are pressing against each other, and the tension builds. They press and they grind against one another, and then they slip and the earth changes. What happened in Japan is that out in the ocean, tectonic plates were pressing against each other, and they started to slip, and then finally, wham. They slipped creating the gigantic tsunami that washed 28,000 lives away into eternity.

Well, that is the kind of imagery that Isaiah is presenting in Isaiah 40:4. This was the kind of repentance that was happening in the wilderness.

And so I am praying for us that we are not yawning our way to heaven, but that we are a repenting people who cry out to God that He would show us how we ought to repent.

What you do with your eyes, what you do with your time, what you do with the meditations of your heart, what you do with your relationships, what you do with your clothing, what you do with your car, what you do with your house, what you do with your money – that is what John is talking about here. This is the stuff of the Christian life. This is true Christianity.

And in this room here today, there are those who aren’t converted. I pray that you would feel the tension. Maybe this would be the day when the tension in your soul will rise to such a degree that you make a dramatic shift and you change, and it is like an earthquake of the soul where the whole landscape of your life is transformed.

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