"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Is it not interesting that the devil's first temptation was to question what God says: "Did God actually say?" Revelation 12:9 describes the devil or Satan as the deceiver of the whole world. Some translations describe him as the one who leads the whole world astray. In John 8:44, Jesus says that when the devil speaks he lies. Jesus calls him the "father of lies." Why do I question God's Word? How do I challenge His Word?
It is interesting in John the Baptist's first statements; he gave two commands. In Matthew 3:2, the command is "Repent." In Matthew 3:8, the command is "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance." True repentance always bears fruit as the evidence. In Matthew 21:28-32 Jesus uses a parable of two sons which provides a great picture of true repentance. The first son originally refused to obey his father. The second son said he would obey the father but did not. In Matthew 21:29, Jesus tells what happened after the first son refused to do what his father asked. Jesus says, "he changed his mind and went." In the Greek, "he changed his mind" is one word which means to think differently, regret and repent. A change of mind is always the first step in true repentance. True repentance requires rethinking and agreeing with the Father. The second step in this parable, after agreeing with his father, the first son "went." This action is equivalent to "bear fruit in keeping with repentance." True repentance has the faith to do what the father asked. Faith always produces action. Notice in Matthew 21:32, Jesus charges the chief priest and elders (Matt 21:23) with failing to repent.
"They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, burnt offerings morning and evening."
"They set the altar in place" because they feared the people who lived in the land. The Jews who returned (less than 50,000) from Babylon did what God had instructed them to do even though opposition surrounded them.
Father, may my desire to obey Your instruction override all my concerns about what others might do or think. May I worship You in the face of opposition.
"Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out."
I find it of great interest that Peter preached the same thing in his first sermon that John the Baptist did in Matthew 3:2. To add to the significance of this command to repent by both John the Baptist and Peter, look at Matthew 4:17. When Jesus began to preach, He commanded the same thing, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." It would seem repentance is of great importance.
Holy Spirit, thank you for convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Jesus, thank you for accomplishing everything necessary so that I can repent. Father, I desire to be quick to repent, please strengthen my desire.