I see the world as having essentially two types of people, those who attribute their success and their lives to God and those who love to wallow in their own glory, even if it is by the means of crediting their success or their lives to something else besides God, which appeals as eye-candy to the people around.
… for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Imagine people who perform but in their ignorance of God, fail to see their every effort/talent as being cushioned by the hand of God. So when these are asked as to what is the secret of their success they just arrogantly blurt their ignorant feelings available to them in that moment, not realizing to whom that credit is due. Still, God is not insecure like fallen men who desire payback for every emotion they invest in their neighbour.
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.
What is Repentance, it is turning away from that fallen desire of taking all the credit and giving glory to God, who matters more than all creation put together. If you find this hard to accept, it reflects only your miniscule perspective on God. Ironically, you will notice that though you haven’t figured the extent to which creation exists, you have no trouble in meditating on your own fallen desires with little care for those around you, leave aside all creation. That glory rightfully belongs to God (who is good and without sin) in all creation (Ps148), not to you or me or any other person for that matter.
He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
The wearing of sackcloth in the Old Testament was synonymous with coarseness of mourning, where looking to God was the only comfort which would satisfy the soul. This repentance too is from God given to His elect (Act11:18) that they may know the truth about God and themselves and be brought to that spiritual prostration, which is every believer’s privilege in knowing God Almighty.
Mark 2:17 (In the context of John 1:10-13 & Rom 3:23-26)
17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
It has always been so, that those who feel they don’t need Jesus are only those who are completely at home with their sin. For every other religion, the code of religiosity is an outward code but in Christianity the code is purely moral and so a person’s faith is not measured by the colour of his beard or by the length of their trousers or by the food he eats. By this I do not mean a person should dress immodestly but just that Christian principles are based on moral values and not an outward showcasing of religiosity from the individual. So it is that, what Biblical Law focuses on concerning the individual is: morality (Is1:11-17). For people from their fallen nature are prone to remaining in their immoral and godless state even while performing the Ceremonial aspects of the Law, only because such is the love for sin in every man from the fall of Adam.
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
In repentance, God grants the individual the overwhelming capacity to put to death their nature to sin, a death to the individual’s sinful-self, unto a new life in God (Jn12:24-26), symbolized by sitting in ashes and dust (Job42:6) and being washed in the waters of baptism (Rom6:4). This realization of a person’s spiritual plight before God, is the beginning of the work of God the Holy Spirit in putting sin/immorality to death in the individual (Phil1:6).
5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.
Such is the importance of repentance, which is the highlight of Baptism. Without repentance it is impossible to believe in the Gospel because one needs to begin emptying themselves of their love for sin/immorality to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. This capacity is granted the individual in Christ, who presents the believer a living spirit, which right from its infancy (Jn3:3,16), desires and exercises the righteousness of God (2Cor5:17).
Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
So to conclude, just as Christmas marks the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and Resurrection Sunday marks the redemptive accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ for all God’s people. Baptism marks the individual made ready through repentance to believe in the saving Gospel. The Bible puts this across through some beautiful euphemism, where the Church, which is the body of believers, is being prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive her groom: the Lord Jesus Christ.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
For as creation is given to glorify God, we see that just as a man is given to pour out his strength and labour for the woman he loves, who in turn is given to draw forth righteousness from him by her beauty, so too the Salvation of God’s Church is by the absolute merit of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev5:9), who paid Salvation’s ransom for His Church in His blood (1Tim2:6) and sent the Holy Spirit (John15:26) to sanctify and beautify His Church as a bride into the image of God, which was lost in Adam’s fall (Rom5:17). That just as Salvation is by grace through faith, so too is the beauty of Jesus’ Church that her faith is a gift from God to draw forth the righteousness of her beloved groom to save her from her sins (Lk5:20).