Message: John the Baptist preached a message to repent and be baptized. What really stood out to me in this was chapter was that he was calling out the Pharisees who believed that they were the exception because they were the children of Abraham. Although they truly were of the lineage of Abraham, they were deceived in thinking that they were exempt from repentance. The point seemed to be further proven when Jesus came to John to be baptized. He would have been the only one exempt from repentance, but yet he submitted himself to be baptized by John.
Command: Repent and be baptized.
Promise: Repentance brings both salvation and freedom and the promise in Matthew 3 was that Jesus would baptize with a new kind of baptism. The baptism of fire.
Warning: Deception keeps me from recognizing my need for repentance. Like the Pharisees, I can easily be deceived into living a life of religion rather than an authentic life of constant repentance and change.
Application: The safeguard against deception and religion is constant self-evaluation, reading the word and prayer. When I am not reading or praying my mind becomes calloused and religious living forms. I justify my position in comparisons with people who appear to be worse-off than I. My compassion for others dwindles and my pride increases. The remedy for this is to read the word without a motive and allow the word to read me. I need to evaluate myself and challenge the excuses that want to rise up.
Lord Jesus, expose the calloused areas of my heart where I mask my issues with a form of religion instead.