ONE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION WORTH KEEPING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
We’re in our series on the life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning we are in Luke 3 for our message titled, “ONE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION WORTH KEEPING.” According to a recent research, here are the popular New Year’s Resolutions in 2015 – 10. Get More Sleep; 9. Volunteer; 8. Travel; 7. Floss; 6. Save Money; 5. Reach Goals; 4. Learn a Language; 3. Go Green; 2. Quit Smoking or Drinking; 1. Lose Weight. There’s one that I have a feeling is not on anyone’s list but it holds the key to all the rest: True Repentance.
Luke 3 7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Overall Background: The Word of God came to John in the wilderness. If you remember, it was not just a geographical wilderness but also political, moral, and spiritual wilderness. God hadn’t spoken to His people in 400 years and suddenly there was a voice crying in the wilderness. This voice was a lone voice, a simple voice, and a voice full of holy conviction. And people began to come. Matthew tells us in chapter 3, verse 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. That’s powerful! What’s even more powerful is what these people did! They confessed their sins – they repented.
Unfortunately, repentance is a foreign word in American Christianity today. We talk about how to find God’s will and how to have our best life and how to be happy but repentance – no time for that. But this is where it starts. The closer you draw to God, the more you begin to see your sinfulness and the need for repentance.
Application: May I ask you – Are you tired of sin ruling your life? Is it the sin of a habit/addiction? Is it the sin of an attitude – selfishness, anger, control, or insecurity? Is it the sin of lack of discipline – food, time management, or thoughts? You say you are saved – is there a difference between you and those who are lost? Then, there’s one solution – Repentance. Here’s an important question – Have you ever received Jesus as your Savior? If not, then you need Conversion not Confession.
This morning let the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the truth about Repentance so this could really be your best year ever. 3 things we will see in this passage:
I. SIN MAKES US AN ENEMY OF GOD.
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
Background: Good gracious! Why did John say something like that? Isn’t that what he wanted? Weren’t people (some Pharisees and Sadducees) responding to the voice crying in the wilderness? If it we’re me, I would’ve put together a welcome packet with all the ministries for every need in your family. I would’ve organized a welcome committee with the friendliest people to serve as ushers. Instead, he calls them “sons of snakes.” Because vipers throughout the Old Testament refer to God’s enemies. Imbedded in here is a powerful principle – Sin puts us at enmity with God. When you and I come to God (lost or saved), we are immediately confronted by God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Psalm 5:4 “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You.” Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you.” The closer to get to the light, the more you see the dirt in your life.
At the moment you are confronted, if you raise up your hands and say – “Guilty as charged. I need Jesus,” it’s good. At that point John 3:16 goes into action – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But if you come with anything other than the blood of Christ to cover you, now the wrath of God is upon you. Listen to verse 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.’ Meaning: Don’t trust in your pedigree. Don’t trust in your church membership. Don’t trust in the fact that you came. These people were sincere. None of that can save you from God’s wrath. Keep listening to verse 8 “…For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Application: How do you see yourself in light of God’s holiness? As a lost person, do you think God will excuse you based on some good you’ve done? As a saved person, you know God and that’s good but are you bearing good fruit or is there sin in your life? Do you realize how much God abhors our sin? These are very important questions. Unless you get this right, no amount of resolutions and promises will make the year blessed.
II. SIN DESTROYS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS.
10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” 11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
If you noticed, each of these commands has to do with their relationship with fellow human beings. Let’s look at each of them for a moment:
- The first one – “People – If you have 2 coats and see someone who is cold, share.” Sin has a way of making us insensitive to others. Nothing wrong with wearing well and eating well but there’s something wrong when our brother/sister is cold and hungry. Sin makes us care for our own comfort and well-being. Now, don’t immediately run out and start clothing the homeless and feeding the hungry. Start with your own home. Wives – are you known as a selfish person? Husband – are you known as a self-centered person who always gets what he wants?
- The second one – “Tax Collectors – Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Sin has a way of making us greedy for a little bit more. Nothing wrong with making a profit and doing better in life but there’s something wrong when we care more about stuff than people. Sin makes us dissatisfied no matter how much we have. Sin creates a bottomless pit in our heart. In fact, we are even willing to throw our husband, wife, and children down the bottomless pit of greed.
- The third one – “Soldiers – Don’t intimidate or false accuse anyone.” Sin makes us a bully and do whatever it takes (lie and cheat) to get our way. Bullying happens not just on the school playground but also in the home. Words are said and threats are used that have no business in Christian homes. The past is held over the head and the future is used as a threat rather than something to look forward to.
Bottom line: Sin is not just a subject for theologs. Sin is not just the quirk of some Ole Timey preacher. Sin is not just the junk on TV put out by Hollywood. Sin is with us everyday and it affects our relationship with our loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers. Instead of avoiding the subject, it needs to be preached more! It is the problem.
For e.g. We make resolutions to lose weight. Why do we eat more? It’s all right to eat because you’re hungry or the food tastes good but its not all right as an emotional need. Why do our emotions go out of whack? Because of our relationships.
Application: Have you realized how real sin is in your life? Do you see how much it corrupts your daily relationships? Do you see that you can’t go forward and make resolutions and set goals unless you deal with sin? Are you willing to deal with sin?
III. SIN NEEDS A SAVIOR.
15 Now as the people were in expectation,
Background: What were they expecting? After all, they’ve been baptized, they’ve been confronted with their sin, and they’ve been told what to do and not to do. What more is there? Listen to the next line – “and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not.” They were still expecting the Christ! Why? Because the Christ was going to do something more for them. Listen to verse 16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. What exactly is John saying? He is drawing a line of demarcation between himself and Jesus. The people were starting to look at John as their hope. But John quickly put an end to that. Sometimes people start looking at pastors and teachers with adoration. Don’t get me wrong, there should be respect but don’t worship the man.
What will this Mightier One do? Listen to last line of verse 16 “…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” What does that mean? What is the difference between the baptism with water and the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire? They had been saved from the wrath to come but they had not been set free from the power of sin. By receiving Jesus as your Savior, you don’t have to face the penalty of sin but unless you truly appropriate what Jesus did for you, you will still be in bondage to the power of sin. That’s why some Christians keep going back to old habits and old attitudes and old sins and old hang-ups. They are going to heaven but it’s like hell all the way there. They’re still selfish, self-centered, greedy, intimidating, liars, and cheats. They feel guilty for their behavior and feel condemned. They make promises to do better but go back to the old ways.
So what’s the solution? Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. Paul explains to us a little bit more in Romans 8 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire means that now I am under the command and leadership of the Holy Spirit. He is in charge over me. In order to sin I have to get permission from Him. I daily submit myself to Him and He leads me in right way. Listen to Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
And he also brings fire. What does that do? 17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” For the lost, the fire is hell but for the saved person, the fire is a purifier. It refines us and cleanses us. It is just like the fire at the landfill versus the fire at the silversmith.
Illustration: Charles Wesley’s hymn illustrates this well –
O for a thousand tongues to sing,
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King, The triumphs of His grace!
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
Are you saved? Has the power of canceled sin broken in your life through the Holy Spirit?