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Thursday on the blog we discussed how repentance bears fruit. But bearing fruit like this is hard work. It will cost you. So why should I do any of that? Because repentance brings freedom.

When Neo first meets Morpheus in the first Matrix film, they talk about slavery. Morpheus says, “You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind driving you mad... you are a slave Neo, like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell, or taste, or touch.” [1]  

Morpheus may be wrong about the nature of our prison—it’s not the matrix—but he’s right that we’re in bondage. Not to a complex computer program but to sin. Freedom from that bondage is accessed, not by swallowing a red pill but through repentance.

Matthew 3:11—“I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  

Jesus is coming! And He will baptize everybody in one of two ways: either we’ll be immersed in fire, or we’ll be immersed in the Holy Spirit. Repentance, then, brings two kinds of freedom...

Repentance brings freedom from future judgment  

In Matthew 3:11, John says Jesus will baptize (immerse) some people in “fire.” I think the fire he’s talking about is the “unquenchable fire” he mentions in verse 12. Years ago I heard a Memphis revival preacher who literally tried to “scare the hell” out of people by preaching such scary sermons that people flocked down the aisle to pray a prayer. The danger in this is that people pray a prayer or get baptized for a perverse sort of fire insurance, like a “get out of hell free card!”  

Let’s avoid that kind of preaching! But let’s not be afraid to tell people that hell is real, and a real eternal hell awaits you if you will not repent. Repent! Trust that wrath is coming, you cannot escape it on your own and Jesus is your only hope. But repentance is bigger than freedom from future judgment.  

Repentance brings freedom for forever joy

If you repent, Jesus will baptize (immerse) you with the Holy Spirit (v.11). What does it mean to be baptized in in the Holy Spirit? Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13—“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” This is not a “second blessing” reserved for the super-spiritual Christians. It’s not speaking in tongues or some supernatural gift. It’s not an emotional feeling. The Corinthians were all baptized in the Spirit.  

Your baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs when you repent and put your faith in Jesus. When you become a Christian, the Spirit begins to live in you. Every Christian has been baptized by the Spirit! When you repented, you were set free to live life as it was meant to be lived! When you keep repenting, you are set free from the sin that tries to re-enslave you. You’ve been set free for forever joy!  

You’re not prepared to meet the King unless and until you repent. And repentance brings freedom, from future judgment and for forever joy.  

[1] The Matrix, Warner Brothers, 1999.