Summary: Repentance from Dead Works

Repentance from Dead Works


We have seen the wonderful provision that God has made for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have seen that this work of God for us was designed to reverse all the effects of man's rebellion against God. All the bad things that we deserve were put on Jesus at the cross, while all the blessings of the Kingdom that belong to Jesus we share in through the cross and the resurrection.

We have also begun to consider the fact that salvation is by grace and what this means. It is by the grace of God that we can be fully accepted by Him as our Father, and live the kind of life that pleases Him. For more information on the multi-faceted Grace of God, see the corresponding lesson.

No amount of religious work or obedience to God's commandments on our part can BUY God's blessings. JESUS bought these blessings for us at the cross. We can never say that through our works we merit any part of God's salvation. God's salvation is freely available. We are "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24). "For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Eph 2:8-9).

However, no one can receive full peace with God who still wants to fight against God and rebel against His Will. God's will is that we be reconciled to Him. The repentance that we need to have is that turning away from self to God where we want God to fill us, free us, change us and work in us.

Jesus told us that "repentance and the remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations" (Lk. 24:47). Although salvation is a gift, only those who repent and believe the gospel receive that gift. This is not to imply that only those fully blameless in heart have access to God. However, the Scripture is full of warnings against turning back to a lifestyle of sin and rebellion after receiving a knowledge of the truth. (Heb. 10:26-31; 2 Peter 2:20-21). Therefore our repentance from dead works does not make us deserve God's forgiveness, but it is one of the two conditions for receiving that forgiveness. You cannot have Jesus as Saviour but reject Him as Lord and Master. Jesus is a gracious and patient master but there are times when He makes it very clear that we cannot go on with Him unless we let go of certain things.

Also, know that is by God's grace that we can be willing to repent. It is a dangerous thing to refuse God's grace when it comes to us. It usually comes when, by one means or another, we have Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross painted before the eyes of our heart. God never wants us to forget Jesus, nor his sacrifice. Instead, we need to keep looking to Him. That is the key to overcoming sin.

We will look at this important doctrine of repentance more closely now.

What is Repentance?

What Repentance is not.

1. Repentance is not a way of dressing, or a way of speaking. It is not women putting a covering on their head. Nor is it going to an evangelical church. Nor is it using religious words like "brother, sister". You can do all these things and still not repent.

2. Repentance is not merely feeling sorry that you sinned or did wrong. It is not an emotion. Emotion and sorrow for sin normally accompany repentance, but it is possible to feel sorry, remorseful and even weep without truly repenting.

What it is.

Repentance is a serious change of mind leading to a change of direction. The Greek word (metanoia) means "to change ones mind" while the Hebrew word implies a change of direction. Dead works are any works which are not of faith, since whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). In fact, unbelief is at the root of all sin. It is only through faith in Christ - knowing who He is and what He has promised us - that we can overcome sin. Dead works are works contrary to the Word of God. They include the works of the flesh - "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like" (Gal. 5:19-21). God says that those who practise such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Anything not done in love is a "dead work" (1 Cor. 16:14). Any religious work done in the power of man alone is a "dead work" because it has not the life of God in it. The heartless observances of religious tradition that men perform are all "dead works". Even prayer, sacrifice and church attendance can be in the class of dead works when the heart turns away from God and His Word (Pr. 28:9).

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