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Announcement and Baptism of Jesus

(Matthew 3:1-8,11-17)

Lesson 1 -- first quarter 2000
December 5, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

The need for repentance. What do you do when you know you have done wrong? This question doesn't have to do with those ambiguous feelings of possibly having erred. I refer here to those instances in which you have no doubt at all of your guilt. What do you do?

Let's make this practical by imagining a simple, real-life scenario: You generally drive five miles an hour over the speed limit when you're on the highway. What shall you do about this?

Justify your deed and excuse yourself? "OK, so what I did was wrong. But you've got to understand that I was running late for an appointment, an important meeting or whatever. Besides, other drivers still kept zooming around me. But since this issue bugs you, chew on this one: a police officer at a speed check didn't stop me."

Do all these justifications and excuses change the basic fact that you broke the law? Of course not! So you are guilty and no amount of self-justification will change that.

Balance your guilt with sacrifice? "Oh dear, there I did it again! Why do I exceed the speed limit so consistently, especially when I feel so terrible about it afterwards?! I know, whenever I see stuff on the road that presents a hazard to drivers, I'll stop and move it off to the side of the road. Besides, I often let the other drivers go first at four-way stops."

Do any or all of these good deeds somehow undo your infraction of the law? Nope. Your guilt weighs more than any sacrifice you could ever make.

Repent? "I keep doing this and nothing I do gets me around the law that plainly says I shouldn't. Sometimes I feel bad for driving too fast, but most of the time, it doesn't bother me because I'm good at explaining it away and because I've done it for so long. But that is beside the point, because I want to do what is right. Dear God, please forgive my sin and my calloused conscience. I purpose not to exceed the speed limit. Please help me. Amen."

The only way to find justification from your sin is through repentance and accepting the justification that Jesus offers. The only sacrifice that will remove guilt (not just balance it) is the death of the Lord Jesus.

Genuine repentance is the only way to deal with sin in our lives. All other efforts constitute further sin and only serve to compound our failure.

Making His paths straight. What an interesting concept! I thought the Lord's paths are straight by nature. Why should I need to make His paths straight? I don't, in that sense. However, I need to make sure that my representation of His ways is true and accurate. It seems to me this also has to do with being a accurate example of a bona fide believer.

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