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Repentance From Dead Works (15)

In our last broadcast, we saw that works as it applies to the second aspect of the first foundational doctrine of Christ, Repentance from Dead Works, are acts and activities which Christians engage in, both in the secular and in the spiritual, and can be classified as either dead or good. We saw that dead works are acts and activities which are devoid of the life of Christ, and which Christ has nothing to do with. Dead works are also acts and activities done independently of Christ, and do not have His approval or authorisation. Furthermore, dead works are acts and activities done in flagrant disregard of Gods word, command, and instruction; and are therefore, sinful, evil, and iniquitous.

This then brings us to the matter of good works. Good works are acts and activities that are filled with the life of Christ, and have His approval and authorisation, and hence, His presence encompasses such acts and activities. Good works are also acts and activities done in obedience to the word of God, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. There can be no human effort involved in good works, and so they are strictly spiritual acts, even when they are done in the secular. Good works are indeed what every Christian has been called by God to do! In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the bible says, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. These verses of scripture tell us clearly that, a man of God (who really is any child of Godmale or female; young or old) must be a student of the bible, not so much as to show his prowess in quoting scriptures, even though that is a very good thing; but so that he can be thoroughly and properly equipped to do good works. It is also clear from the verses of scripture, that the bible, which is the word of God, gives us the basis for doing good works, for it furnishes us with what we need to know on how to do good works. This means that, anything you are doing that is contrary to the word of God is dead works; even if your claim is that you received your instruction by prophecy! Please note that true prophecy cannot contradict the written word of God. Indeed, any prophecy, so called, which contradicts the written word of God, as contained in the bible, is false prophecy, and its proponents are false prophets! Again, in 2 Timothy 2:21, the bible says, If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, meet for the masters use, and prepared unto every good work. In bible terms, a man is purged of things that defile and that do not glorify Godthings like sin, iniquity, corruption, unrighteousness, etc. This verse of scripture makes it clear that any man, who has not been purged from such things, cannot really do good works. In Matthew 15:18-20, the Lord Jesus said, those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man. So, unless a man purges himself from these thingsevil thoughts, including craftiness; murder, including plots to kill; adultery, including spiritual adultery such as idolatry, and loyalty or devotion to anyone or anything other than God; fornication, including prostitution, lewd dressing, etc.; thefts, including the embezzlement and misuse of public funds; false witness, including swearing to an Oath of Office or to an affidavit deceitfully; and so onhe will not be useful in Gods hands for the purpose of doing good works; and everything he does will be dead works, no matter how laudable those things may seem to be. Hence, good works can only be done by people who have submitted themselves to the discipline of God, and the purging of iniquity from their lives by the Holy Spiritin other words, people who are sanctified. A sanctified man is someone who has first been born again of the Spirit of God, and who then submits to the continuous cleansing of the Holy Spirit in his life. You are not born again, just because you attend church regularly; nor are you sanctified just because you are serving in the church. You are born again because you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus; and, you are sanctified, because you are being continually cleansed by the Holy Spirit of the things that defile and that dont glorify God. Being saved and being sanctified are two acts done by God in a man, and are subject to that man repenting of sin and totally submitting to God! Only people who are sanctified can truly engage in, and exhibit good works!

Sanctification is very crucial in working for God. For, as much as God has need for labourers in His vineyard; He also expects such labourers to be sanctified, if the work of their hands is to be acceptable unto Him. The truth about the work of God is that, God only accepts the work that He does Himself! But for God to do His work (usually among men) He has to do it through men. And for God to do His work through men, He must first work in men; and this He does by first cleansing men of sin, and then purging them from the things that defile and that do not glorify Himwhat we call the flesh or the old sinful naturethis is sanctification! And this is how a man of God is made ready for the Masters use. You cannot be carnally-minded and do good works; you cannot be full of yourself and do good works; you cannot be ambitious and do good works. In summary, you cannot exhibit any of the works of the flesh enumerated in Galatians 5:19-21, and do good works. For instance, you cannot be homosexual and do good works: first, you must be purged by God, and then you stand the chance of being able to do good works! For a lame man to be made to compete with people who have complete functional limbs is unfair. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot achieve the worst time a man with functional limbs will take to run the race. What the lame man needs is first, to be made whole, and then, he can compete favourably.

In Matthew 6:1, the Lord Jesus said, Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. The word alms as used in this verse of scripture, means good deeds or more properly, righteousness or righteous acts. So, the Lord is saying that we should not do righteous acts for public adulation, as a publicity stunt, or for advertisement; otherwise, we will have no reward from Him. Based on the Lords statement, it is clear that what we may call a righteous act, can in fact be dead works, if it is done contrary to Gods prescribed way. When we read further, from v. 2-18, of Matthew Chapter 6, we see three righteous acts mentioned by the Lordgiving, prayer, and fastingwhich can either be good works or dead works, depending on whether they are done in line with the word of God, as assessed by God; not as assessed by men. So, while men may assess and applaud our work for God, God may in fact chastise us for doing dead works, depending on how and why we did it. And here lies another crucial aspect of what qualifies as good works.

As we continue to study Matthew 6:1-18, we see that Gods assessment of whether our righteous acts are dead or good, is not necessarily based on the righteous act, but on how (the manner), and why (the motive) we did it. Thus, giving to the needy or giving to the work of God, so that people can see us as givers or helpers, for political posturing, for the media, or to enable us make tax deductions, is wrong in manner and motive, and makes that righteous act, a dead work! In Acts 5:1-11, we read the story of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, and how they gave some money to the church. And even though they gave a sizeable sum of money, from the proceeds of the sale of their estate, they were killed by the Holy Spirit for lying. They had told the church leaders that they were giving all the proceeds from the sale of their estate, whereas, they had only given half! Praying to be seen by men, so that we can be spoken of as a mighty man of prayer, for publicity, and for selfish ambition, is dead works. The bible says in James 4:3, Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Prayer, for the sole purpose of meeting your own desires to the exclusion of others, is dead works! And this is why intercession is to be preferred to petition. Also, those of us who are involved in ministry in one form or another, but who only pray in church, giving people the impression that we are men or women of prayer, whereas, at home, we dont even pray over our meals, is tantamount to engaging in dead works! Likewise, fasting to be seen of men, and for contention, is dead works. Isaiah 58:3-11: Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. Friend, there is an acceptable and an unacceptable fast. When we fast, but continue to live contrary to Gods word, it is not good works; it is dead works. To fast, and yet continue to pay your employees below survival level, is dead works! But when we fast in the right manner, and with the right motive, God rewards us; an indication that we have done good works! In general, the absence of any visible or discernible spiritual blessing on anyone who professes to do the work of God is a vital indicator that what he is doing is really dead works. Please note that we said spiritual blessing. And, if God is not the motive or goal for our actions and activities, it is dead works.

It is now time to turn inward and open up yourself to Gods assessment of your work for Him, based on His word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to see whether or not you have been engaging in good works; indeed, to see if you are serving God in righteousness. God says, in Jeremiah 48:10, Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully and in 2 Chronicles 25:2, the bible says of King Amaziah, he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart. From these scripture verses, we see that the work of God, though a righteous act, can be done deceitfully, and with an imperfect heart, thus transforming an otherwise righteous act into dead works. But we know that God wants His children to engage in good works, and this is why we must turn away from and obliterate every work that has been deceitfully done, and those done half-heartedly. God wants us to return to good works! Let us therefore, yield to the Holy Spirits leading in all our deeds, if indeed we have been born again. And if you are not born again, and are engaged in church work or benevolent acts, you need to repent of this method of seeking Gods favour, and simply accept Jesus finished work on the cross at Calvary for your salvation. In this way, you can then be on your way to doing good works! We pray that Gods mercy will abound to you, and that you will truly turn to God in righteousness through and through!

Let us pray!