Medical studies have shown that even though people who have had heart-bypass surgery are told that they must change their lifestyle or die, about 90 percent do not change. Typically, 2 years after surgery the patients haven’t altered their lifestyle. It seems that most would rather die than change.

Just as doctors preach a physical message of change to prevent death, John the Baptist came preaching a spiritual message of change. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). He was preparing the way for the ultimate manifestation of God’s reign—the Messiah, Jesus.

Repentance means to change one’s mind and attitude about God, which ultimately changes a person’s actions and decisions. Those who repent and accept Christ’s provision of forgiveness from their sins through His death on the cross will escape spiritual death (John 3:16). Repentance involves confessing sin with godly sorrow, and then forsaking sin. John the Baptist was calling people to turn from one way of living to ways that honor God.

Today, the Lord is still calling us to repent and then to respond with the “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8).