Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8 NIV
The religious leaders came down to the river to check out this John the Baptist fellow they'd heard so much about. It's fair to say they probably weren't expecting the greeting they received, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?" (v. 7). It may seem a little harsh, but he knew they didn't come because they desired baptism but as a threat assessment—his message of baptism by repentance upset tradition and order.
Still addressing the leaders, he tells them there needs to be a change. Their repentance and baptism weren't something to be entered into casually but a wholehearted commitment to becoming a new person. The evidence would be a transformation both inwardly and outwardly.
What is true then is still true today. When we earnestly repent, we leave those old sins forever behind and go forward from that point forgiven. The danger comes when we don't produce fruit when our outward actions do not reflect any change in our hearts. There cannot be tension between what we say and do and our souls. If that tension exists, we are still in sin.
The good news is that God wants to help–he loves us. He wants to forgive, and he wants us to succeed. The human Jesus called on his Father when he experienced temptation, and we should do the same. The Father also provides us with the courage and strength we need to produce good fruit through the Holy Spirit.
Father God, we give you thanks for your forgiveness. We thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins. We give you thanks for the Holy Spirit that guides us in the paths of righteousness. God, we come before you now humbly and sincerely with repentant hearts. Please forgive us and help us to produce good fruit. May others witness the glory of your change in us, so they may come to know you. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.