Back To Basics Transcript

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Repentance From Dead Works (4)


Just so that we are still aware of the topic we have been speaking on, we shall attempt a very brief recap of what weve done so far in this series, Back to Basics: after establishing the need for a firm foundation for the Christian, which is to be built upon the Solid Rock, which is Jesus Christ; we went on to begin the laying of the foundations of the Christian faith. According to Hebrews 6:1-2, there are six layers of foundation, and these are: repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, the doctrine of the laying on of hands, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and the doctrine of eternal judgment. We then went on to look at the first layer, which is Repentance from dead works. In looking at repentance from dead works, we noted two important aspects: the word repentance and the phrase dead works. So far, we have been focusing on the first aspect, that is, repentance; and with respect to repentance, we have seen that there are actions and behaviour which cannot, and should not, be called repentance, even though they may sound and seem like repentance. We have seen that repentance is largely more than saying, Im sorry for a wrong done. True repentance must include a change of action or behaviour after one has said, Im sorry and such action should suggest that indeed, one has realized what he or she had done wrong. In other words, repentance is what happens when someone who had been going on a wrong course of action realizes convincingly that his earlier course of action was wrong, and now turns to the right course of action; and this will be apparent in the way such an individual will behave from then on. We have seen in the past three weeks of our broadcast, that there are things or attitudes which some people assume to be repentance, which are not!

When a person blames someone else for the wrong he has done, it is tantamount to refusing to take responsibility for his own actions. A statement like, The devil made me do it, is not a statement of repentance, but one which seeks to mask ones wrong actions, while passing on the blame to some other person. Also, when a person engages in actions that contradict words of repentance he had earlier spoken; this is clearly a case of false or fake repentance. For example, when people are in pain or some discomfort, they would do anything to get relief from such pain or discomfort, including saying Sorry and in some cases, they will be willing to go the extra mile, to do anything and go to anyone they believe will give them that relief. So, when people under such circumstance turn to God, it is because they want relief, not because they believe they need to repent of their sins. Again, there are people who repent only after they have been caught, and realize that the negative and punitive consequence of their actions will be visited on them; and because they want to avoid such punishment, they are quick to say they are sorry for their crimes; but such repentance is not genuine either. We call this kind of repentance, a repentance after-the-fact. It is a repentance that would never have taken place had the person not been caught, and made to face grievous consequences. It is therefore, a false or fake act of repentance.

Today, we will continue with, and conclude on the matter of false repentance. The repentance of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, is a classical case study of false repentance. In case you dont already know the story, well tell it as briefly as possible.

Jesus was doing a great work telling people about the salvation available to them from God, and in the process, He brought joy to many hearts through miracles, signs and wonders. Unfortunately, the leaders of the established religious groups in Israel at the time regarded Jesus ministry as a threat to their leadership and authority, because people were turning to follow Jesus. They, therefore, hatched a plan which would enable them arrest, condemn, and crucify Jesus. However, for their plan to be successful, they needed an inside man. They eventually got this inside man in Judas Iscariot who, for a payment of thirty pieces of silver agreed to betray Jesus to them. On the night of the Jewish Passover, while Jesus was with His other disciples in Gethsemane, Judas arrived with a mob in tow, along with arresting officers from the religious leaders, and proceeded to betray Jesus with a kiss. Jesus was promptly arrested, and brought before the Court of the religious group, the Sanhedrin. He was found guilty on trumped up charges, and sentenced to death, although they still needed approval from the Roman rulers, who governed Judea at the time.

Let us now turn to Matthew 27:1-5, to see what then happened: When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that He [that is, Jesus] was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. Looking at these verses of scripture, again, one may be tempted to say that Judas Iscariot was truly repentant. Indeed, no one can deny that Judas grief was real; nonetheless, his repentance was false for the following reasons:
1. When Judas Iscariot saw that his action was going to result in the death of Jesus, he was remorseful; however, his repentance was false because it was after the fact, and his action afterward proved that!
2. Judas statement, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood, was apparently a statement of remorse, but again, only after the fact. Had Jesus not been condemned, Judas wouldnt have felt any remorse about the money he took.
3. In his remorse, Judas returned the money he had taken; and even though the people who gave the money refused to take it back, he still wanted to have nothing to do with the money. But, is this true repentance? Not really! Because Judas next action, which was to commit suicide, calls his entire act of repentance and restitution to question. For, even though Judas remorse may seem to have been genuine, his act of suicide made nonsense of that remorse, and his repentance, false! We therefore note the following:
a) Judas statement of remorse was made to men, and not to God! Judas may have been expecting these men to be as remorseful as he was, but this was not forthcoming; so, he did what he thought would be painful to them: he discarded the money! If you engage in a crime with others and afterwards become remorseful, it is not in your place to compel them to be equally remorseful. You cannot compel people to repent. True repentance is personal and voluntary!
b) The grief in Judas heart was probably eating him up inside, and to deal with this grief, he took matters into his own hands, passed judgment on himselfdeath by hanging, and then carried out the sentence himself, by committing suicide! It is possible that Judas may have thought his suicide would atone for his terrible sin. At this point, may we state that no self-declared punishment can resolve the matter of sin; neither can suicide atone for anyones sin. The only death that atones for the sin of man was the death of Jesus Christ. If you are so remorseful, that you want to inflict punishment on yourself, and even commit suicide, our counsel is that you turn to God and seek His forgiveness, until you receive it. The bible says in Hoses 6:1-3, Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. What this simply means is that you should turn to God and seek His forgiveness until He pours it on you, like rain, bringing a refreshing and Gods peace to your soul!
c) Even though Judas was remorseful, and had given back the blood money, his conscience still pricked him, which may have been what led him to commit suicide. Friend, merely giving back what you have stolen without the forgiveness of God upon you does not ease the guilt of sinit is turning to God in admission of your sin, receiving His forgiveness, and then returning the stolen item that will bring peace like a river to your heart. Anything else will continue to bring you turmoil and may lead you to take some irreparably damaging decisions. For instance, when a young lady is committing fornication, and then one day, realizing that she is pregnant, goes to her boyfriend and tells him that she is pregnant and that this would ruin her relationship with her parents, shes not being repentant. Shes merely seeking sympathy from her accomplice! And when she doesnt get it, she turns around and goes to a doctor to abort the pregnancy, or even commits suicide. And whether or not she survives the abortion, the act itself does not, and cannot nullify or mitigate the sin of fornication. The act of abortion and even suicide may have been her way of hiding the sin of fornicationit is, indeed, possible that if she wasnt pregnant, she would have continued to engage in the act of fornication without a thought of repenting!

Committing a sin as a means for atoning for another sin is itself a sinful act and does not show that the individual concerned is truly repentant, thus, such repentance is false repentance! Robbing Peter to pay Paul as the old saying goes, is not restitution, but a sinful act. Judas suicide was a sin, as is all suicide, and no sinful act can ever atone for another sinonly the death of Jesus can do that. And all a person in such a situation needs to do is to go to God in the quietness of his heart and seek Gods face for forgiveness, taking responsibility for his sin. The rest is in Gods hands, and the bible lets us know that though it may take some time in some instances, yet Gods forgiveness is sure to come!

Friend, have you sinned and is it eating you up inside? Are you trying to hide your sin by some smart alec approach? Have you gone to confront your accomplice with your internal grief, and you expect him or her to be as remorseful as you are? Well, let us give you a news flash: REPENTANCE IS AN INDIVIDUAL AND PERSONAL THING! Dont expect that anyone will follow you in group repentancego to God on your own now, and seek His face for forgiveness until the guilt of sin has been removed from your life. Self-inflicted punishment or suicide does not atone for sinonly Jesus blood does! Call upon God now and He will save and deliver you from your guilt of sin; no matter how long its been there!

Let us pray!