Repentance From Dead Works

Before I go on presenting this article, I'd love to very much thank my spiritual dad, Apostle David Juma of Life Church Int'l, for allowing me to use his resourceful material for this post. That's why I said I'm presenting as opposed to writing. Thus I dedicate this article to him.

I'm not used to writing long articles, but I had to make this slightly longer to cover the topic effectively.

So, what are dead works? What is repentance from dead works?

Hebrew 6:1-3 lists principles of the doctrine of Christ on which a
believer is to build his spiritual life. These  principles are called "foundations" of the Christian faith. They are basic doctrines on which the Christian faith rests. The first of these principles is "repentance from dead works."

The true meaning of the word repentance

The basic meaning of the word "repentance" is a change in mind which results in a change in outward actions.

Some people associate repentance with emotions, like shedding of tears and feeling sorry for the wrong actions and thoughts. Repentance is not an emotion. It is a decision. Emotion sometimes accompanies true repentance. But it is possible for a person to feel great emotions and to shade many tears and yet never truly

Other people associate repentance with meeting special religious requirements. This is sometimes called "doing penance." It is possible to fulfill many such religious requirement and  yet never repent in the Biblical sense.

To summarize: Biblical repentance is an inner change of mind resulting in an outward turning away from sin to move towards God and righteousness.

Ineffective Repentance

There are some passages in the Bible where the word "repentance" is used in a different way. Let's examine these two examples:

1. Judas:
Judas Iscariot realized Jesus had been condemned to death. He repented of his part in betraying Christ.
Then Judas, which betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying I have sinned that I have betrayed the innocent blood...(Mathew 27:3-4) 

The Greek word used here is not the same as the word which means change. There is more than one meaning of the word "repent" in the Bible. The word used in this passage about Judas means emotion, sorrow and anguish.

Judas experienced sorrow over what he had done but he did not experience true Biblical repentance. He did not make a decision which resulted in change in his actions. He continued in his sin and in the end hung himself. Sad indeed.

2. Esau:
Esau was another man who made this tragic error. Esau sinned by selling his God- given birthright for a bowl of soup. The Bible records:...ye know that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.(Hebrews 12:17)

Later, Esau regretted what he had done. He cried aloud and shed bitter tears. But strong emotion is not proof of repentance. Esau did not truly repent. He was just sorry he had lost the birthright and wished he could have it back. His "repentance" was not acceptable because there is a difference between regret and true repentance.

Dead Works

If we are to fully understand the meaning of repentance, we must understand what it is from which we are to repent. We must understand "dead works." "Dead works" are actions of a life lived apart from God. These works may be wrong deeds or acts of self-righteousness.

These are called "sin" in the Bible. The basic Thing that causes sin is selfishness. It is the love of self as opposed to love of God. This love of self results in man going "his way.

When you repent from these dead works of selfishness it means you acknowledge the existence of the one true God, realize you are a sinner, ask for forgiveness of your sins, and accept God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. Repentance is a personal decision to forsake sin and enter into fellowship with God. It is the power of God which actually brings the change in the mind, heart and life of the sinner.

So, why is repentance important?

There are several reasons why repentance is considered a foundational truth of the Christian faith. In fact, God has commanded all people to repent (Acts 17:30). These are the reasons why you must repent.

Reason #1: To avoid death....but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)

Reason #2: So that you can get life. Through repentance the penalty of death is removed and eternal life is granted: When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God. saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)

Reason #3: That God may forgive your sins. God cannot forgive your sins unless you repent: Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

Reason #4: So you may enter God's Kingdom. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of God is at hand. (Mathew 4:17)

Reason #5: It's God's wish for all. God does not want anyone to experience the spiritual death of eternal separation from God in hell: The Lord...is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

Reason #6: It is the main reason why Jesus came into the world. We cant afford to disappoint Him. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)

Definitely, it's clear as men we need God. And we can only reach him through repentance. May God truly lead your heart to experience true Biblical repentance and bow before his throne of mercy.

This is a series of lessons on "empowering a generation". It's a 3 month class meant to empower young people towards their ministerial calling. We'll be dealing with the foundations mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-3 and I shall post these topics as they unfold.

However, you can join us for live discussions as we tackle this great series at Life Church Int'l, Kenya Cinema Plaza M1, every Thursday 6.00pm - 8.00pm. It is more effective when we share.