Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV)
Throughout our Christian walk, Christ calls us out of destructive life-styles and toward Himself. For many of us, responding to His call involves throwing off hurtful habits that have entangled us. While some seem instantaneously delivered from these habits, others must follow a process that can be frustrating and discouraging.
If you struggle with such a habit or with some recurring sin, this passage may prove helpful:
When the crowds came to John to be baptized, he demanded that they “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8, NIV). Seekers from a variety of backgrounds wanted to know what this repentance demanded of them. They asked, “What should we do then?” (Luke 3:10, NIV).
John answered by spelling out specific life changes that each group needed to make. Those with plenty were to share with the needy. Tax collectors were to collect only the taxes the law required. Soldiers were told not to extort money, not to make false accusations, and to be content with their pay.
For all of us, repentance is more than words, no matter how sincerely spoken. It is more than good intentions, no matter how pure and noble. If repentance is real, it will be accompanied by changes in the way we live, changes that act out our desire to turn away from sin forever. When our prayer is “lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13, NIV), we will do all we can to avoid that temptation.
If sin is a problem in your life, and if you deeply long to break your cycle of failure, why not get in line with the sinners, soldiers, and tax collectors? Ask God with a sincere and open heart, “What fruits of repentance would You have me produce, Lord? What changes would You have me make to break my sinful patterns?”
Listen, and I believe you’ll get an answer tailored to your need. The Savior will not ignore a seeking heart, and His wisdom is extremely practical. He may ask you to consciously avoid certain situations or to establish more positive habits. He may want you to make yourself accountable to a trusted Christian friend.
Whatever His response to you, write it down and begin obeying Him. Remember, you live in His presence every moment. Trust Him one step at a time, and He Himself will lead and enable and bless you.