confession sign

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 3, Day 3: Matthew 3:5-10


The people heeded John’s words from Jerusalem to Judea and the Jordan. They confessed their sins and were baptized by John in the Jordan River. He called out the Pharisees and the Sadducees, telling them to repent, too.


6) Acts 3:19: Repentance is turning to God to be forgiven for your sins.

Acts 20:21: Repentance is turning to God with faith in Jesus Christ.

Acts 26:20: Repent is turning to God and showing this in their deeds.

James 5:16: Confession is admitting your sins and praying for healing.

1 John 1:9: Confessing your sins allows you to be forgiven and purified.

Confession is admitting your guilt. According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, confession is “to openly acknowledge the truth in anything, as in the existence and authority of God or the sins of which one has been guilty. Confession of sin before God is recognized as a conditon of forgiveness.”

Repentance is sincerely regretting it. According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, repentance is “a profound change of mind involving changing of the direction of life from that of self-centeredness or sin-centeredness to God or Christ centeredness. God’s forgiveness is only available to those who are repentant, for only they can receive it.”

7) Joel 2:13: Return to God with your heart and with actions.

Matthew 3:8: Produce fruit when you repent.

Acts 26:20: Repent is turning to God and showing this in their deeds.

Romans 2:4: God’s kindness to you leads you to repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:10-11: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldy sorrow brings death.

8a ) I think I’m kinder to others, more helpful, more giving as I realize my shortcomings.

b ) This is a tough one. I’m sure there is, but all I can think of right now is just how I need to be kinder to my family and others. Lord, help me to be kinder to my family and others and forgive me for my sins and hard heart.


This was a lot of looking up, but worth it. It’s important to turn your heart and not just your words to God. Out of this, actions follow, too, as does His forgiveness. Pick up this great Bible resource, Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, today.


John the Baptist played a huge role in preparing the Jewish people to accept Jesus as their Savior. In fact, the famous historian Josephus talked a great deal about John the Baptist, even more so than Jesus. His influence was widespread. It was also the first time Jews were baptized in large numbers because they thought all they needed was the blood of animals to cleanse them.

Baptism illustrates perfectly the confession of sin and the action that follows it. You are doing something by being baptized; you are repenting. Today, when Christians are baptized, not only are we confessing our sins and our need for a Savior, but we are also being baptized into Christ  (Romans 6:3).

John the Baptist gets his name from these actions, partly because Jewish baptisms were rare up until this point. Baptism has previously only been used for those adopting the Jewish faith, not for those born into it.

Confessing of sins was new, too. Confession was rare.


The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the leadership and the law of the Jewish people. They believed if you kept the law, you would be righteous and get to heaven. They thought they were righteous for this. In reality, they were flawed humans like the rest of us, power hungry and hypocrits.

John yelled at the Pharisees and the Sadducees because they were there for appearances only; their hearts were not changed.

The wrath is God’s wrath, which is what all of humanity deserves. You must flee from it.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees believed they were saved because they upheld the law. John says this is false. They must repent with their hearts, not just follow the law. Everyone can go to hell without Jesus. The Jews believed at that time they could not go to hell because they had God.

The ax laid at the root of the trees is marking the trees for cutting, and without fruit, the trees will be cut down.

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“Everything God Commands is Good for Us”

Quote from my leader last night when speaking about submission to our husbands.  We tend to think of Ephesians 5:22-33 as taking something away from us.  But it’s quite the opposite.  Submitting to our husbands (and all of God’s laws) only builds us up, increases our sanctification, and changes us for the better.

Sometimes we think Seriously, God, do I have to do _____?!  Like tithing, giving to others, loving our enemies, forgiving others, being humble, and all those things we have no desire to do and which goes against our selfish nature.  But we must remember all of it is for our good–for us–and not just for God.  It’s all a process we must go through in our quest to be like Jesus.

While looking up sanctification in my Bible Dictionary (Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney), I came across this nugget to share as well:

“The notion of holiness, when applied to things, places, and people, means that they are consecrated and set apart for the use of God.”

I loved the idea that my whole purpose on earth is for God’s use.  He is using me.  I’ve always known I’ve had a God-given purpose.  But the idea “I am set apart for the use of God” just struck me.  I think it goes beyond our purpose (which tends to be only one or a handful of things) and encompasses other uses that we don’t think about.

Purpose tends to be more of us doing the doing.  God’s use is more of God doing the doing.

Just some thoughts to chew on this week!

Am I a Saint?

Why is it that so many Christian terms are now derogatory in nature?

“She thinks she’s a saint!” is now commonly heard when someone is arrogant and prideful, a know-it-all or a hypocrite.  It has become something we do NOT want to be.

Yet God through Paul says otherwise.

If you believe in Jesus then you have been sanctified (made sacred, holy, and righteous) through the blood of Jesus.  That we “together with all the saints” (Ephesians 3:18) may know the fullness of God.

We hear all the time, “I’m no saint.”  Well, actually, if you’re a believer, you are.

Sure, you can chuck this up to euphemism or a figure of speech.  But our words are powerful and we should heed their hidden or implied messages.

Proverbs 18:21:  “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Jesus tells us “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean'” in Matthew 15:18

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…”

Over time, all languages change including English.  New words and expressions are being added every day.  Some due to technology (IPad); others, slang (cool or rad come to mind).  Meanings change and some disappear all together.

But we should we wary when an underlying spiritual war is taking place.  I believe this is the case in this instance and many other ways where sacred words from the Bible are being twisted.  As we learned, it is Satan, working through the minds of unbelievers (Ephesians 2:2), who has twisted such words and tried to rob them of their power and meaning.

Our words and our language is as much a part of us as our arm:  integral to living.  We must treat them as such; monitor its well-being; be wary of what it does/says.  And not give in to peer pressure and society’s whims when it comes to berating the Christian faith.

When we hear the word ‘saint’ many of us think of the Saints who have been recognized by the Catholic religion as holy:  St Patrick, St Valentine, St Michael, St Joseph, St Francis of Assisi, St Christopher, and thousands of others.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the first definition of saint is what I knew:  “one officially recognized esp. through canonization as preeminent for holiness.”  Definition #3:  “One of God’s chosen and usually Christian people.”

My Bible Dictionary has a fascination explanation of the origin of the word in terms of the Catholic usage (which does not correspond to Biblical usage it points out).  But in short, a saint is “a person sacred to God” according to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney.

I don’t know about you but I LOVE the idea that I (plain, ol’, insignificant me) am sacred to God!  I usually think of it as God being sacred, not me.  He is sacred to me.  Not I am sacred to Him.  But it makes sense.  Why else would He sacrifice His son?

This is what I love about BSF.  The Bible is so rich you can and do spend a lifetime studying and learning about it and BSF prompts me to learn things I otherwise wouldn’t think of (such as being a saint).

I had never heard of all Christians being Saints before now.  But if you are in Christ, have the Holy Spirit dwell within you then you are a Saint.  You don’t have to do any special works to be one (as I previously believed from definition #1 of Webster’s).

Therefore, I am a saint.  And I hope and pray you are too.

What Does “Self-Righteousness” Mean?

I think there’s a lot of confusion when this term is thrown around by others and many don’t know what it means.  I think many equate self-righteousness with thinking you are better than others, morally or in other ways.

Webster’s definition of self-righteous is this:  convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others; narrow-mindedly moralistic.

Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary gives the theological definition:  belief, attitude, or behavior of persons who seek God’s acceptance by their own efforts, that is, by doing good works and keeping divine statues.

Bible passages where the concept of self-righteousness is discussed:  Luke 18:9, Romans 10:1-3, and Philippians 3:9.

Zondervan continues, “A self-righteous person is righteous neither in the religious nor moral sense.  Those who trust in themselves do not have right standing with God through self-effort nor are they morally upright since their attitudes are not affected.”

From my understanding, righteousness is a gift from God that we received from Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.  The “self” goes directly against righteousness since we humans have nothing to do with God’s grace.

If someone is being self-righteous, they are basically being self-reliant and in relation to others portray a smug and prideful attitude which is where superiority creeps in.  They waste precious energy, time, and resources trying to earn God’s grace and mercy when it was freely given.  And because they are striving so hard to earn God’s love they create a feeling inside of themselves that they are better than others because of their good works.  It becomes a numbers game and they end up judging themselves against others–again, something God should only be doing.

Self-righteousness is a sin because we are relying on ourselves and not accepting what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  And when coupled with others it is an act of judging others and only God can do that.

Self before righteousness is like putting you before God–self-reliant instead of God-reliant.

Examples of self-righteousness:  thinking you are better than others because–you believe in God, do more good things than others, are a better person in your view, etc.

Self-righteousness is another form of the wrong kind of pride and as Jesus says, “…he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

End Note:  Definitions and examples of Bible passage are from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney.  I would not have been able to explain this concept without this help!  Thank you!

I would love any other ideas or clarification points added!