Back To Basics Transcript

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Repentance From Dead Works (5)


So far, in our study on Back to Basics, we have seen what true repentance is not. We have seen a number of actions that we can call counterfeit repentance. Blaming someone else for your sins as a way of excusing yourself from your sins by saying: The devil made me do it, or Such and such a person(s) made me do it, or Such and such circumstance(s) made me do it is no repentance at all; it is counterfeit repentance. Saying Im sorry just so that you can get relief from the consequence of sin, and not because you realize that you are a sinner, is false repentance; just like saying Im sorry so you can avoid punishment that is about to be visited on you for your sin is, because you probably would never have repented had you not been caught. Self-punishment as a means of penance or atoning for your sins, as is the practice of ascetics, is also counterfeit or false repentance. Ascetics are people who deliberately deprive their bodies of nourishment or subject themselves to self-deprivation not sanctioned by God, as a way of paying for their sinsplease note that this does not include fasting for spiritual purposes. The practice of ascetism cannot atone for sinonly the death of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary has, and can, atone for any mans sin!

Sometimes, you find that the guilt of sin does not go away, even though you are truly remorseful, have confronted your accomplice in the sin with the issue, and have even dissociated yourself from the sin, by returning your share of the stolen money to your accomplice, where this is the case. This is because you have merely confronted your accomplice with the sin you jointly committed, but have not gone to God in repentance! Trying to compel, or expecting those who are involved with you in sin, to be as remorseful as you are, or even wanting them to share in your guilt of sin, is a sure way of bringing more misery upon yourself; just as trying to hide one sin by committing another, or condemning and beating yourself up inside, will result in turmoil in your soul. These acts do not remove the guilt of sin; neither does committing suicide, which is equivalent to hiding your sin. To truly eradicate the guilt of sin, you must humbly ask God for forgiveness, obtain it, and then restitute your ways. And until you do this, the guilt of sin eating you up inside will not abate! So, why not humbly go to God now, and ask for His forgiveness?

Today, we are going to begin to look at what true repentance really is.

In the United States of America, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI), which is the criminal investigation arm of the Department of Justice, has a unit that deals with crimes related to counterfeit currency. In performing their function of identifying counterfeit currency, the FBI train their agents to study the original currency intensely, so that, when a counterfeit is presented, the flaws will be obvious, because they have spent countless hours studying the authentic currency. In spiritual matters, we not only study the original, or the real or true thing, we also seek to experience it; this is in addition to knowing the counterfeit, fake, or false thing, so that we can avoid it! Let us now turn our attention to what true repentance isthe originaland we shall be spending quite some time on the matter!

In Luke 15:11-24, we have the classical case of true repentance as illustrated in the parable of the Prodigal Son: And he [that is, Jesus] said [it was Jesus who spoke the parable, and here it is], A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Before we delve into the study of this parable, let us first note that a parable is a story with a moral; an illustration which seeks to drive home a point; and, a story mirroring what is happening around and among us, without mentioning specific names but which we can relate to, and, in some cases, even see ourselves in. The parable of the Prodigal Son speaks to us morally, of not living outside of parental authority; of not being in a hurry to obtain an inheritance from your parents; of not living as though conditions will always be rosy; among many other things that it teaches. The parable also drives home the point of working hard for your own sustenance, as against living off other peoples sweat. But perhaps the most vivid aspect of the parable is the fact that one may see in oneself, the younger son, who went to live far away from anyone who could give him wise counsel, preferring rather, to live with people he barely knew; people who were only hanging around him because he had money to spend; people who we can call fair weather friends, for when things were no longer rosy, the younger son was left all alone, with none of those who were spending his money offering to help out. We can also learn the lesson that, if you are spending money without replenishing it, you will soon go bankrupt! Our politicians who are busy spending money as though it is water need to learn this, lest they mortgage the future of this country. Someone said that the way nations are borrowing money and using the borrowed funds for non-productive projects, the children who are being born today will inherit nothing but a mountain of debts!

Back to our discussion: the crucial portion of this parable is, And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. True repentance cannot take place, until there is first, a realization that one has done something wrong!

We therefore, first need to appreciate the fact that there were some things which the younger son in the parable did wrong, otherwise, there would be no need to talk about repentance, because, where there is no sin, there is no need for repentance. The story is told of a missionary couple who went to a people group somewhere in Papua New Guinea, and told the people of the story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, and Jesus eventual crucifixion. At the end of the story, they were shocked beyond measure to find that the people were more excited about Judas prowess in being able to stay with Jesus as a close confidant for three and a half years before finally betraying Him. You see, the people in these parts prided themselves on treacherythe longer and closer you are able to live with people before eventually betraying them to be killed, the more acclaim you will receive, so Judas was not only their hero, but someone they wanted to emulate. It was not until God gave the missionary couple a testimony of Jesus, which this tribe could relate with, before they could see their sinfulness, and then they repented.

Sometime ago, I happened on a manuscript of an unpublished book, in which the author praised the younger son in the parable of the Prodigal Son as a hero, for breaking away from his father, and launching out on his own. This author described the younger son as a risk taker, and was encouraging Christians to do the same. How badly mistaken the author of that book is! If the younger son did nothing wrong, then what was he going to his father to repent of? And why did the Lord use this parable to teach us what true repentance is?

So what did the younger son in the parable of the Prodigal Son do wrong?
1. He asked for his inheritance while his father was still alive. Technically, until after the death of his father, there really can be no inheritance. So, he wanted something that was not his (a euphemism for covetousness, which is also idolatry, and a grievous sin!). If his father had not given him the portion of the inheritance that he thought should be his, it is possible that he would have plotted the untimely death of his father. Indeed, there are people who have sent their parents to an early grave because they wanted to inherit what their parents had; and there are those who have even gone as far as to engage in the murder of their siblings so that they would keep all the inheritance to themselves. This is nothing but greed, and murder, and, clearly a sin! Furthermore, seeking to have something sooner than the appropriate time is the same thing as what this younger son did, and it is a sin which many people routinely engage in!
2. The younger son was wasteful in the handling of his share of inheritance which his father gave him. If there is one thing that God forbids of His children, it is wastefulness in any form or shape. For example, after Jesus had fed 5,000 men (not counting women and children), He commanded His disciples to pick up all the fragments left over which filled twelve baskets of the five barley loaves that was broken and distributed to the people. In John 6:12, Jesus said Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost. Before God, wastefulness is sin. It is wasteful to buy things which you dont need, and then leave them lying unused until they go bad! This is, sadly, the story of Nigeriawe recently read that there are 17 ambulances parked at Aso Rock, the seat of the presidency, in case the President or his aides fall ill; whereas, there are government hospitals in Nigeria that cannot boast of one ambulance! There is also the story of a State governor who attended the wedding of a musician, and announced that he was giving them two brand new Prado Jeeps, and that the State will sponsor 29 couples to attend the wedding of the couple in Dubai, stating that these expenses were part of the State budget! Such wasters should come to God in repentance, even if they are presidents, State governors, or multi-millionaires!

Theres more on what the younger son did wrong, and these will be addressed in next weeks broadcast, but for now we ask, Do you consider covetousness, wastefulness, greed, murder, insubordination to parents, stealing, pleasure-loving, carefree living, and so on, as sin? If you dont, and you say that you are a Christian, then you need to realize that you are sinning, and should go to God in repentance to receive His forgiveness.

Let us pray!