Repenting is Not Optional

Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable of Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum,

will you be exalted to heaven?
No, you will be brought down to Hades.

For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus’s message here can be a little hard to hear. He says, essentially, this: “If the cities who have heard my words haven’t repented of their sins and accepted me, their fate will be even worse than the fates of the heathen cities.”

Take Sodom. In Genesis chapter 18 and 19 Sodom was a city of terrible sin. All the men in Sodom (save Lot, a friend of Abraham) tried to rape God’s angels. The me were SO wicked that when offered virgin girls, they preferred the angels. So God destroyed the city. But Jesus said that if the men of Sodom had heard His message, they would have repented. So a city that has heard Jesus’s message and doesn’t repent is literally more wicked than Sodom, a city so wicked it had to be destroyed.

This message is primarily for the Jews, many of whom believed salvation was their birthright and were too complacent to change their ways, even for Jesus. But this message is relevant to us too. If we hear Jesus’s word and accept Him, but we don’t change our ways, we aren’t really accepting Him. We aren’t really Christians.

So many of us a like the early Jews and think to ourselves, “I’m saved, Jesus has my back, so I don’t need to worry about what I do.” We don’t repent. We don’t stop getting drunk, we don’t stop swearing, we don’t stop looking at porn or having sex before we’re married, we don’t start giving to the poor. THIS IS WRONG. Accepting Jesus means to repent, the Greek word literally means to turn around and go the other way. As Christians we must change, or at least try to, otherwise we aren’t really accepting Jesus.

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