At the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist, the people quickly acknowledged him as a prophet. He was the voice in the wilderness that the prophet Isaiah informed the people about in Isaiah 40:3. John challenged the people to bring forth fruit as an indication of their beliefs. His preaching may have been harsh at the time, however, it was required to set the stage for Christ’s ministry. Now, during this time the religious leaders understood how the “people” acknowledged John as a prophet and wanted to be accepted by the people. Their motives were of selfishness and arrogance. This sets the stage for what happened and is the foundation of this message that you are reading today.
It is written, “So he said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, You offspring of vipers! Who secretly warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Bear fruits that are deserving and consistent with [your] repentance [that is, [b]conduct worthy of a heart changed, a heart abhorring sin]. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father; for I tell you that God is able from these stones to raise up descendants for Abraham. Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees, so that every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire,” (Luke 3:7-9, AMP).
John the Baptist quickly recognized the false motives of these religious people wanting to be baptized by him but they were not honestly coming to him with a repented heart. John knew if a person is baptized without truly repenting they would never find salvation. John alerted these religious leaders about this reality. You cannot fake your way into salvation. What is required is full submission to God and fully repent of our sins to Him. John highlighted this truth by stating that a member of Isreal cannot save anyone, meaning that no person can bring salvation. He was setting the stage for Christ and His ministry. Then, John tells these people that an ax is ready to cut down the trees that do not bear good fruit so they could be burned. Likewise, judgment was extremely close to anyone who did not have evidence of their faith because they do not have genuine repentance of their sins.
This message is as true now as it was then. God does not want us to be a bunch of vipers! He wants us to fully commit ourselves to be a worthy sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ. God expects more of us than we do ourselves. However, we will never be able to fully enjoy the full blessings of the Lord without honestly coming to the foot of the cross and repenting. He wants us to come to Him with an honest heart, with pure motives, and a want to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. God wants us to love Him and understand what He has already done for us. We have already cost Christ too much. When this happens, something wonderful will start to happen within us. We will start to live a life of reverence. This new life will allow us to bear good fruit. We will not only talk the talk but we will walk the walk. The Pharisees should have been able to do this because they knew God’s word but they did so to look good in front of others. So please, repent and seek the Lord for you and no one else. Don’t fake your fruit, actually, bear it! If not, you are no different than the offspring of vipers that John the Baptist was speaking of and we should all be better than that.
Father, thank you for this word that you shared with us here today. Father, I pray that we all can come humbly before you in repentance of our sins and they want to be better than what we are today. Father, take the ugliness that we hide from not only others but ourselves, and please exchange it for your beauty. Father, we seek you and you alone. Father, thank you for your Word and the sacrifice of your Son. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.