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Repentance From Dead Works (6)

In our last broadcast, we began to see what true repentance entails, as we examined the parable of the Prodigal Son. We noted that one of the marks of true repentance is that the person repenting must come to the realization that he or she has done something wrong, for which he or she is now remorseful, and from which he or she is willing to turn away. In this respect, therefore, we noted that the prodigal son came to the realization that he had done some things wrong. We noted that one of the things he realized that he had done wrong was in demanding for his portion of inheritance, while his father was still alive, which we likened to covetousness or idolatry, and, greed. We also noted that the prodigal son asked for an inheritance when it was not yet the time, because his father was still very much alive, and of a sound mind! Unfortunately, the desire to obtain things sooner than the appropriate time is a sin which many people are guilty of, even in the church! The bible teaches the Christian to be patient and wait for God, stating in Hebrews 10:36 that, ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. In Isaiah 40:31 the bible says, they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint; and, in Ecclesiastes 3:11, the bible says that God hath made all things beautiful in His time. It is important to note that things are made beautiful in Gods time, so let us quit giving God deadlines to do certain things or else ! In Luke 12:13-15, the bible tells us about a man who couldnt wait for the sharing of his inheritance by his brother, and so, wanted Jesus to put pressure on his brother to share their inheritance. After the Lord Jesus chastised him, he then turned to all those around (and that includes you and I), and said in v. 15, Take heed and beware of covetousness: for a mans life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. The Amplified Bible translates this verse as, Guard yourselves and keep free from all covetousness (the immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more); for a mans life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs. Unfortunately, the pursuit of many people, and sadly, many Christians today, is the abundance of things. The desire of many Christians is not God or His kingdom, but their own fleshly desire. Indeed, going all out to get things is a major teaching in many churches todaythis ought not to be! Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-33, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Brethren, if you are a child of God through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross at Calvary, then, know of a certainty that God is obligated to meet your needs, but not your wants! Your needs are the essentials for living which God will give to you, hence, you need not worry about them, because, at the right time, God will give them to you! Unfortunately, there are those persons who do not take seeking God and His righteousness seriously, but make seeking fame, fortune, and the future, their focus and pursuit. The Holy Spirit, in teaching contentment and the pursuit of godliness, says in 1 Timothy 6:1-11 (NLT), All slaves should show full respect for their masters so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching. If the masters are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. Those slaves should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved. Teach these things, and encourage everyone to obey them. Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we cant take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Brethren, the wholesome teaching of the Holy Spirit is godliness with contentment! Unfortunately, many Christians, not being content, pursue wealth, to their detriment, and have strayed away from true faith in God. If you are one of such Christians, you are no longer living for Christ, but for the world! You need to realize what has happened to you, so that you can turn to God in true repentance!

Another thing which we noted that the prodigal son realized he did wrong was his wastefulness in handling his share of inheritance. Unfortunately, not many people see wastefulness as sinful conduct; hence, they do not repent of this before God. The word prodigal actually means wasteful, and describes a person who wastefully spends money given to him. One wonders how many wasteful people there are in our churches. We pray that God will grant us understanding of these things, so that we can truly repent before God and live truly godly lives, which encapsulates contentment and frugality; not ostentation.

Today, we shall be looking at another thing which the prodigal son realized he had done wrong, prompting him to return to his father in true repentance, as we read from Luke 15:11-20, 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.

This passage of scripture reveals that the prodigal son got to the point where he realized that he had wasted his inheritance on riotous living! Bible translations translate the phrase, riotous living variously, as foolish living, living like a fool, wild lifestyle, wild living, reckless living, the wildest extravagance, and reckless and loose living, among others, which can appropriately be captured by the word, wantonness. Wantonness describes a state of depravity in which all sense of decency and morality is lost, and can be illustrated by what would happen, for example, when a pastor engages in a sexual act with a member of his church on the altar. Wantonness describes wickedness, in which wealthy individuals in the church seek to use their wealth to oppress the weak; and it also describes corruption, which can be likened to what happens when a church member inflates the price of an item he has been asked to buy for the church, so that he can get some extra change for himself. Wantonness also describes the state of affairs in many churches today, where immorality and shamelessness are at an all-time highwe see this, for instance, in the manner of dressing among many Christians, both in and out of church, for they dress like prostitutes who are parading themselves shamelessly in public, exposing their breasts, belly, underwear, and thighs. Many Christians who work in banks or are involved in marketing, especially, the women (and it doesnt seem to matter whether or not they are married) are wanton in their dressing, all to get deposits from so-called high networth individuals or so that they can make a sale, and get a good commission! Christians no longer pray to God to reveal who they should marry; rather, they pick spouses for themselves, and contract ungodly marriages which end up in divorce! Wantonness is licentiousness, which is recklessness and decadence, which can be exemplified as a pastor asking for kickbacks from a contractor handling the church building project. Wantonness is also indulgence and overindulgence, also known as dissipation, which we see glaringly in the church, particularly, among the leaders who behave as though they are government officials, travelling in convoys of ostentation, surrounded by several bodyguards shoving people around; boasting in their acquisition of aircrafts; and so on. In talking to us about the signs of the end-times, the Lord Jesus said in Luke 21:34, take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. The Lord is here, warning you, the Christian, not to allow yourself to be weighed down with excesses neither become over-indulgent, nor be entangled in carousing; not to get carried away with entertainment as is the case in many churches today, neither allow the cares of this life, like the pursuit of business deals at the expense of Christian ethics, to be your pre-occupation, nor let what you shall eat or wear, becloud your expectation of eternity, lest, at the time of the Lords return, you be caught unawares! The way many of our churches run programs almost every day now bothers on surfeitingone wonders what time is available for the members to put to practice what they have heard before another program is announced; or what time ministers have to spend in the presence of God before they are out on the road to another program. Brethren, beware of works which lack the life of God!

We can summarize what we have studied so far about the prodigal son thus: when a man is wayward and willful, he will widen the gap between him and wise counsel, and in the process, will become wasteful and wanton! Have you gone the way of the prodigal son? Are you wayward and willful even though you claim to be a Christian? Are you wasteful and wanton? The good news is: If you acknowledge that any of these issues is in your life, and, you turn to God in repentance, even now, seeking His forgiveness; you will receive it, with the assurance of Gods salvation from the judgment which is to come upon all sinners!

Let us pray!