John the Baptist (Prepare the way for the Lord!)
There is an important principal that we can learn from the story of John the Baptist. Even though our Bible seems to have little to say about John, he conveys to us a simple but important message that still applies today about the repentance of sins.
How did John ‘prepare the way’?
We are clearly told that John was sent to ‘prepare the way’ for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 1:2-3), but what exactly did he do in preparing the way? In Luke 3:3-4, we are told, “And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Also in Matthew 3:1-3, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
So how did the people cooperate with John in preparing the way for Jesus? They confessed their sins and were baptized as a sign that they have turned from their sins, as Matthew 3:6 tells us, “And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”
What does it mean to ‘prepare the way’? It means to create a favorable environment or to make it easy for one to come to you and operate in your life. Let’s take a look at Luke 3:4-5, “As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.” Apparently, John the baptist was creating a favorable environment and making it easy for Jesus to enter into and operate in the lives of the people.
The same is true on the other side of the coin. Notice how John the baptist prepared the way for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ through preaching repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. He created a favorable environment for Jesus to enter and operate in. The same principal is true on the other side of the coin, where people get involved in deep sins in order to gain spirit guides, etc. When people get involved in heavy Satanism, they can commit gross sins such as bestiality (sex with animals) in order to gain spirit guides or other demonic powers. Such sins defiles a person and creates a ‘favorable environment’ for the spirits to dwell and operate. Sin ‘prepares the way’ for the devil and his demons, while repentance and remission of sins prepares the way for the Lord!
How does this apply to us today?
I believe the Lord gave me a beautiful revelation about how we can ‘prepare the way’ for the Lord in our own lives. John the baptist was said to be sent fourth to prepare the way for Jesus, but what exactly did he do? He preached the repentance of sins and baptized people for the remissions of their sins. He was getting people ready for Jesus’ arrival by getting them to turn from their sins and repent! For as Hebrews 12:14 tells us, “…holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”
I believe a valuable principal we can to learn from this story is that if there are unconfessed sins in our lives, they can hinder us from ‘seeing the Lord’. We need to repent of our sins and turn from them and receive forgiveness (1 John 1:9). By repentance of our sins, we ‘prepare the way’ for Jesus to operate in our lives!
1 John tells us that if we confess our sins, we not only receive forgiveness for them (1 John 1:9), but they are washed and cleansed from us by the blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:7). They are removed as far from the east to the west (Psalms 103:12)! If we fail to acknowledge our sins, however, Proverbs 28:13 tells us that we will not prosper, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Simply acknowledging our sins is not enough, as John clearly rebuked the Pharisees for not living upto their confessions in Matthew 3:7-8, “But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he denounced them. ‘You brood of snakes!’ he exclaimed. ‘Who warned you to flee God’s coming judgment? Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God.'” (NLT) Proverbs 28:13 also makes it clear that we are to turn from our sins, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
The teaching and practicing of water baptism and repentance never seized when Jesus was glorified. After Jesus rose again, He appeared to His disciples and gave them the great commission to go fourth and preach the gospel to every creature (race, nation, etc.) and baptize them (Matthew 28:19). Water baptism and repentance was also preached and practiced in the early church as well, as we can see in Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The Bible doesn’t necessarily have a lot to say about John, but we do know this, he was sent fourth to prepare the way, and he did that by preaching the repentance and remission of the people’s sins. I believe that by confessing and turning from our sins, we can prepare the way for the Lord to move and operate in our lives as well.