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Repentance From Dead Works (7)

We continue with our discussion on what true repentance is, as illustrated in the parable of the Prodigal Son, and as told by the Lord Jesus in 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.

So far, we have seen that a person who wants to truly repent before God, must first realize and acknowledge that he has done some things wrong, for which he seeks to make amends and to begin to live right henceforth. With respect to the prodigal son, we have seen a number of the errors which he realized that he had made, and these are; asking for the inheritance the father would have bequeath to him, while his father was still alive; going off to a distant country to be away from the godly influence of his father; and, the riotous living he engaged in, in the far away country. In Christian lingo, the prodigal sons sins would be; greed, covetousness, idolatry, impatience, wastefulness, and wantonness. We have also seen that when a person is wayward and willful, there is a widening gap between him and wisdom, which will give rise to wastefulness and wantonness. Wastefulness and wantonness are two sides of the same coin, which culminate in all sorts of negative situations and unpleasant endings.

From the bible passage, we see that after the prodigal son had squandered his inheritance, a famine arose in the land where he had run away to, and the folly of his lifestyle became clear. Before the famine, and while he still had his inheritance, he believed that he was having fun and doing what anyone who had what he had, would have done. But after he had squandered his inheritance and the famine hit, his folly became clear! He was now someone who was in need, when a short while before then, he seemed to have had need of nothing! The bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:11, Wisdom is good with an inheritance It does not matter how much you may have by way of resources and wealth; without the wisdom of God, it will soon be all lost. In 1973, Nigerias Head of State at the time, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly, declared that Nigerias problem was not money, but how to spend it! Today, 40 years after, Nigeria remains largely underdeveloped, in debt, and one of the most corrupt nations in the world; this is the result of years of wastefulness and wantonness! Indeed, any individual or organization that is wasteful and wanton will retrogress rather than make progress, whether or not they are Christian! In Proverbs 27:23-24, the bible says, Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? These verses of scripture are simply telling us to ensure that we take diligent care of our productive resources because, wealth, affluence, and power, do not last forever. And if you dont take good care of the resources which God has given you, you will soon be like the prodigal son, or even Nigeria; in want!

From v. 14-16 of our scripture text, we read, And when he [the prodigal son] 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. We see here that in an attempt to deal with the problem of lack, the prodigal son had made another error which had a snowball effect: he joined himself to a citizen of the country where he sojourned, who then sent him to go and feed swine, for pittance, so much so, that he desired to eat swine feed! The word joined as used of the prodigal sons union with the stranger, is indicative of the unbreakable union between a man and a woman in marriage. The bible says in Romans 7:2-3, the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. By joining himself to the citizen of this country, the prodigal son had entered into a binding union which only death or divine intervention could annul. The Bible in Basic English translates Luke 15:15 as And he went and put himself into the hands of one of the people of that country, and he sent him into his fields to give the pigs their food. In his state of want, the prodigal son placed his life into the hands of a complete stranger: someone he ordinarily would not have had anything to do with; someone who was contrary to everything that his father stood for. The prodigal son had entered into a binding contract with the wrong person! Proverbs 12:10 states, A righteous man regardeth the life of his beasts: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. Friend, no matter how benevolent a wicked person may seem to be, his kindness is actually cruelty! No matter how pleasant it may seem now, nothing good is going to come out of a partnership with an armed robber, a murderer, a profiteer, or any criminal for that matter; the end of such a partnership will be confinement in prison, death, and sadly, eternity in hell. The prodigal sons wrong decision to leave home coupled with his wrong lifestyle had led him into a wrong union, which had in turn led him to engage in an abominable vocation (because raising swine is an abomination for a Jew). Worse still, the prodigal son was worse off now than at any time everhe even desired to eat what pigs eat!

In being joined to this stranger, the prodigal son had put himself in a position in which he was at his mercy! In wanting to get away from his father who loved and cared for him, the prodigal son had sadly, come under the influence of a stranger who didnt care anything for him! What an irony! In 1 Corinthians 6:15-17, the bible says, Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. When a person is joined to another in the manner the prodigal son was joined to this stranger, he invariably becomes one in purpose with the person to whom he is thus joined. It is therefore, obviously better to be joined to God than to a prostitute!

One other thing: the union the prodigal son had come into, was not an equitable one, but one in which he was a slave who had to do his masters bidding. The prodigal son had thus, inadvertently agreed to serve a strangers purpose, just as a slave would have no choice but to serve the desire of his master whatever that desire is! This is what happens when a man lives outside the authority of Godhe invariably comes under the authority and influence of the devil, whether or not he is aware of it. The prodigal son had given himself over to the dictates of his new master. And whatever he was asked to do, he had no choice but to obey. So, when his new master asked him to feed swine, an unthinkable thing and an abomination to a Jew, he had no choice but to do it. People who are under the influence of alcohol; people who are addicted to drugs; and people who are insane; have one thing in common: they do what they ordinarily would not do had they not been under that foul influence. Such was the prodigal sons predicament! Imagine a young lady who leaves home so that she can be free from her nagging parents (at least that is what she believes): before long, she is unable to sustain herself, and in a bid to take care of the matter, she joins herself to a man, who unfortunately, is nothing but a pimp, and who sees her not as a partner, but as merchandise, to be prostituted for money! What a life! The prodigal sons wayward and willful attitude, which is common among teenagers, had eventually led him into a wrong union, which in turn had landed him in wretchedness!

Speaking about wrong unions, vis--vis, those who claim to be Christians, the Holy Spirit says in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God It is indeed sad to find Christians who are united in marriage, business, and other partnerships, with people who dont accept Jesus as Lord and Saviourpeople who neither obey, nor have regard for Jesus Christ. It is also sad to see people who say that they are Christians, engaging in vocations and activities which are contrary to the word of God, like prostitution. A wrong union or ungodly vocation will ultimately drag a man into wretchedness. Friend, sin, in whatever form or shape will drag a man into wretchedness, but righteousness will lift him out of the dunghill. Righteousness is a gift that is bestowed by God on a person who is truly repentant of his sins. But before a person can truly repent of his sins, he must first come to the realization that he is a sinner, and that the things he has been doing, believing that he was having fun, like the prodigal son, is actually sinfulthings like covetousness, greed, impatience, competition, wastefulness, wantonness, wrong unions, ungodly vocations, sinful activities, etc.
But before a person can come to the place of realization, he must first be brought to his senses. The bible says about the prodigal son in Luke 15:17-18, 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, The prodigal son had to come to his senses, because without arriving at the point of realization, he couldnt truly repent of sin, let alone turn away from a life of sin. This is the major crisis that we face in the church of God today. A lot of people are going to church because they want one thing or another, which they believe God can give them, for so they have been told; but they never go to God in repentance because, they are yet to come to their senses. They are yet to be made to realize that many of the things they are engaging in, and which some churches and their leaders tolerate, are sinful. If a lady living with a man that she is not married to, claims to be born again, and does not see anything wrong with her living arrangement, she is clearly unrepentant, and still in her sins! She may have recited some words of repentance, but they clearly were not meaningful to her! Friend, before you can truly receive Gods gift of righteousness, you must repent; and before you can repent, you must first realize that you are a sinner, and that only the atoning work of Jesus can save you from the wrath of God. Have you come to this realization yet? The prodigal son did, returned home to his father, and repented. You too can return to God today in true repentance!

Let us pray!