“U-TURN” Matt. 4:12-17
INTRO – Wabush is a town in a remote portion of Labrador, Canada. It was completely isolated for some time. But recently a road was cut through the wilderness to reach it. Wabush now has one road leading into it, and thus, only on one road leading out. If someone would travel the unpaved road for six to eight hours to get into Wabush, there is only way he or she could leave—by turning around.
Each of us, by birth, arrives in a town called Sin. As in Wabush, there is only one way out–a road built by God himself. But in order to take that road, one must first turn around. That complete about face is what the Bible calls repentance, and without it, there’s no way out of town. We are stuck, trapped in that town called Sin if we willingly choose not to get on the road that God has provided.
The Greek word here for “repent” is metanoeo, & it means to change one’s life, based on complete change of attitude and thought concerning sin and righteousness. It’s a word that most folks don’t want to hear. Most of the time, when they see it, it’s on a sign like this: (slide). Or when they hear it, it’s from a street preacher standing on a street corner. It is unbelievable what happens when you tell someone that they need to repent, that they have to change their way of life, their way of thinking, their perspective & their beliefs. I’ve watched numerous videos of street preachers all over the United States. Many times, they are assaulted, arrested, spit on, screamed at, pushed around, & abused. Watched one this week where a very mild-mannered preacher was standing on a sidewalk in Houston, TX, during a Gay Pride event. A very aggressive homosexual man stood in his face for 15 solid minutes & screamed at him, w/ every other word being the vilest, most offensive profanity you’ve ever heard, accompanied by some of the lewdest, most obscene gestures you’ve ever seen. Why? All b/c the preacher was simply preaching the same word that Jesus used here – REPENT. Granted, I don’t always agree w/ the street preacher’s methodology, although this preacher was staying incredibly calm as he continued to just consistently & sincerely preach the Gospel. But the point is that the message of the word REPENT is extremely offensive to those who are mired in sin. It simply means turn away from sin & turn to God. And it’s for lost people AND for saved people!
So what is the U-turn of repentance?
It’s a U-turn out of darkness – v. 16a – We are now officially in the Christmas season. Thanksgiving has happened, Black Friday has happened, & we are 4 days away from December this Thu. In fact, on Thu. evening at 6:00, the THS choir will be having their Christmas program here in our worship center. Invite you to come & welcome folks into our church. Great way to touch our community, & a great way to usher in the Christmas season.
These words we find in v. 16 are from one of the prophetic passages in Isaiah that foretold the coming Messiah. Let’s read them together. Turn to Isa. 9:2-7 (pg. 481 in the pew Bible).
God’s chosen people, Israel, were in trouble. They had turned away from God & are the “people living in darkness” that Isaiah talked about. Look at how Isaiah describes them in Isa. 8:21-22. When you turn to the darkness of disobedience, your life will definitely be characterized by distress & anguish.
Jesus came as the Messiah for all people, starting w/ the Jews. He came as the “Light of the world” as He said in John 8:12. He came to lead people out of darkness, out of disobedience, & out of distress, & into the light of spiritual freedom that ONLY He can bring.
Let’s think about this: WHAT HAPPENS IN DARKNESS?
But eventually, our eyes grow accustomed to the dark & it doesn’t seem so bad after all.
Same true w/ sin – we eventually grow accustomed to it. In fact, Jesus said in John 3:19 that men loved darkness better than light b/c their deeds were evil. In spite of the inherent dangers in the darkness, people would rather stay there than come into the light. They don’t want their deeds exposed. They don’t want the reality of their sinfulness exposed. They don’t want to have to take an honest look at their own lives & see the putrid garbage that is there. That’s one of the reasons that people recoil so much when someone tells them that they need to repent. In their spiritual ignorance & rebellion, they love the darkness & want to stay there.
It’s a U-turn out of death – v. 16b – Sin = death. The Bible is very clear about this. All the way back in the Garden of Eden, we see that sin brought death into the world. When Adam & Eve sinned, their sinless innocence died; their perfect fellowship w/ God died; their pain-free life died; an animal died to cover their nakedness. Soon after that, death came into their family when their son, Cain, murdered his brother, Abel.
- Romans 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death…”
- John 5:24 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
- Romans 8:2 – “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
- James 1:15 – Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully-grown brings forth death.”
Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson: “We were all involved in guilt; none of us could plead, ‘not guilty.’ Being guilty, we lay under a sentence of death.”
Sin always brings death! But, thank God, when we repent, that U-turn leads us out of death into life.
It’s a U-turn out of drought (revival) – Drought – something USED to be alive, but b/c of a lack of water, it is drying up & withering away. Deer hunters’ food plots aren’t coming up. Went to TN at what was supposed to be peak time for color. Trees had gone from green to brown. MS & others states are suffering from severe drought conditions. Drought conditions threaten way of life for many people. Great danger of devastating fires in these conditions. So many bad things can happen during drought conditions.
Spiritually, all of us can experience, & HAVE experienced times of spiritual drought – those times of spiritual dryness when our passion for the Lord is running low & our commitment to Him & His work is faltering. Our heart feel like it’s filled w/ lead weights. Our spirit feels empty. Our soul feels like there are tumbleweeds blowing through it b/c it’s so dry.
David had times of spiritual drought:
- Psalm 13:1 – “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
- Psalm 63:1 – “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirst for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry & weary land where there is no water.”
- Other psalmist wrote in Ps. 42:3 – “My tears have been my food day & night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’”
What causes the spiritual drought conditions in our lives? Let me offer a few for your consideration:
- Unchecked lust
- Love of money & material possessions
- Pride & arrogance
- Deep-seated bitterness
- Inconsistent or nonexistent quiet time
- Inconsistent or nonexistent service to God
- Living a no-risk life – in other words, a no-faith life
Jesus’ remedy for spiritual drought? Matt. 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary & heavy-laden, & I will give you rest.”
 Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.