But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:7-11 ESV)
Verse 8 tells us to “bear fruits worthy of repentance.”
So, what are the fruits of repentance?
John the Baptist was talking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were very religious but also very distant from God. It’s easy to claim to be very religious, but if we do not bear the fruits of repentance, we too are very distant from God.
The first fruit of repentance is humility.
Coming before a holy God, acknowledging our sin, and asking for forgiveness leads to humility that cannot come any other way. We are sinners, and yet God has forgiven us. That is a humbling place to be, because we received what we did not deserve.
The second fruit is urgency.
With repentance comes the awareness of the seriousness of our sins. From that flows the desire to get this horrible problem taken care of right now.
The third fruit is change
Genuine repentance leads to a changed life!
The last fruit of repentance is dependence.
Recognizing that we have fallen short, we admit our sin and trust and depend on the Lord for all the resources we need for victory as we live each day. We realize the truth about the Lord found in verse 11, that He is “more powerful than I.”