In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:9-15
M. Scott Peck’s book, People of the Lie, is a profoundly insightful work. In it he describes people of the lie as those who are the essence of evil. According to Peck among other things evil persons consistently deceive themselves, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self-image of perfection. In the process they deceive others as they deceive themselves. Bottom line, evil people refuse to acknowledge their own sin. One blogger put it this way:
Peck describes evil as “militant ignorance”. Evil people are obsessed with maintaining their self-image of perfection through self-deception. In addition, evil people will be very selective about who they inflict their evil upon, while going to great lengths to maintain an image respectability and normality with everyone else.
Arrogant. Haughty. Self-righteous. Full of hubris. That is the Pharisee of which Jesus speaks in Luke 18:9-14. This is in sharp contrast to the first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, and to Jesus’ initial sermon recorded in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus calls us here to repent and believe the Good News.
We all need to repent. Everyone of us. No exceptions. If we say we do not, we deceive ourselves (a true hallmark of evil) and make God to be a liar (cf. 1 John 1:8-10). So, yes. You and I need to repent. I do not wish to call God a liar. I wish to believe the Good News that God accepts real, broken, faulted, blemished sinners and makes them new. This is Good News indeed. And repentance is the pathway to experiencing the full sweetness of it.