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Repentance From Dead Works (33)

In our last broadcast, we summarized what constitutes dead works, and noted that the list is inexhaustible. We noted that acts of hypocrisy, which is insincerity, dishonesty, deception, and double-facedness, is dead works. Other things that constitute dead works, which we noted in our last broadcast are: Doing things that do not have the approval of God; Doing things with wrong motives; Engaging in practices that have no scriptural basis, like the commemoration of Christmas, New Yam Festival, etc.; Doing things without love for God; Doctrines or the teaching of doctrines that lead to and encourage sin in our lives and sinful living; Tolerating sin and sinful living in your life and in the church; Spiritual lukewarmness, which is a lacklustre attitude toward God and the things of God, a complacency or apathy to the things of Goda state of anything goes; and, Engaging in activities without first asking God if you should, particularly, when you have the money, power, influence, and so on, to do such activities; to mention a few.

Because the list of dead works is inexhaustible, we shall simplify identification of dead works, by categorizing them into two broad groups. This should help you know whether you are engaging in dead works or not. The two groups are:
a) Acts or activities that are done by someone who is not born againall such acts and activities are dead works; and,
b) Acts or activities that are engaged in by someone who, though, is born again, yet qualify as dead works.
This second category is not as clear cut, and so, we shall spend some time expatiating it. But before we proceed, it is important to note that merely attending church services, or being a member of a church does not necessarily mean that you are born again. A person is born again, when he has asked for, and has received the gift of salvation which God gives to all those who believe in the death on the cross at Calvary of Jesus, the Son of God, as being payment for their sinsthis is usually in concert with genuine repentance of sin, and a repudiation of sin.

Now, for the explanation on how a person who is born again, can still engage in dead works. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the bible says, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Once a person is born again, he becomes a new creatureeverything that he used to be, and all that he used to do, which were dead works, are things of the past; and all things henceforth are new! Every born again person is therefore, essentially a new man; that is, he has a new nature, which has been given to him by God, and which will enable him to live in a manner that is holy and well-pleasing to God. By having this new nature therefore, a person who is genuinely born again should no longer be doing those things which he used to do when he had his old sinful nature; which did not glorify God, and are known to be dead works. The old nature is called, the flesh, which is the nature of man that delights to sin; and is also known as the sinful or human nature; and really, this nature cannot but sin! Therefore, everything that a person who continues to live according to his old nature does, is dead works!

Now, when a person becomes born again, even though a lot of things change about him spiritually, yet it may not be apparent that such changes have indeed taken place. He will need to be open to the Holy Spirit Who is the One effecting the changes in his life, so that these changes can truly be made manifest in his character, conduct, speech, and lifestylein fact, in his entire being and natureotherwise, he will soon find himself in a situation, where he is born again, and yet lives like someone who is not born again! An illustration will be helpful here: when a lady gets married, a lot of changes take place in her life, even though, she may not immediately realize and appreciate these changes. For instance, her surname changes to the surname of her husband; her address changes to the address of her husband; her responsibilities change from taking care of her home and family members, to taking care of her husband and her new home. She can no longer go anywhere she likes, or if she lived with her parents, she would no longer need to obtain their permission before going out; however, she would henceforth, need to obtain her husbands approval for whatever she needs to do: for example, she can no longer dress like she wants or like she used to dress when she was not marriedshe now has to dress to please her husband only. If such a lady does not appreciate that these changes will take place, and refuses to be open to them, and make the necessary adjustments, her experience of marriage will be a terrible one, and she may even end up divorced! If she is a womens libber, she shouldnt have gotten married. If she intended to keep her fathers name, she shouldnt have gotten married. Similarly, if a person who is born again does not appreciate and accept the changes that need to be made in his life, as a result of the new life he has come into, then he will never really experience true Christianity and may end up being estranged from, or even divorced by Christ! In fact, such a person will live like someone who doesnt believe in Christ; hence, all his deeds will be dead works!

In Romans 8:5-9, the bible says, For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. The New Living Translation states these verses thus: Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey Gods laws, and it never will. Thats why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)

Two kinds of people who are supposedly born again, are identified here:
(a) Those who live according to the flesh; that is, those who live by the dictates of the sinful nature; they are also called carnally-minded; and,
(b) Those who live according to the Spirit of God; that is, those who live by the dictates of the new nature, which is embedded in the Holy Spirit; they are referred to as spiritually-minded.
The first kind of born again people, that is, those people who are living by the dictates of the sinful nature, are in constant enmity against God: they are not subject to God, neither can they ever be subject to God, hence, all that they do lead to death, and are dead works! The second kind of born again people, that is, those who are spiritually-minded, are controlled by the Holy Spirit, because they have released themselves to be led by the Spirit of God who is living in them, and so, all that they do are good works! These are the people who we refer to truly, as Christians!

If we take a closer look at Romans 8:9, the bible makes it clear that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ living in him, hes not born again, hes not a child of God, and he cannot be said to be a Christian! Now, someone who is born again is supposed to have the Spirit of God living in him! But when a person who is born again, within whom the Spirit of God ought to be living continually refuses to submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, after a while, the Holy Spirit will leave him, and he will effectively cease to be a Christian! All the works that he did during the time he refused to listen to the Holy Spirit, even though the Holy Spirit was in him, will be dead works; and this is because, he didnt do what the Holy Spirit told him to do, neither were any of his works done in the power of the Holy Spirit. If he continues to resist the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will leave him, just as it happened to Samson as recorded in the Book of Judges 16:20-21where it is recorded that Samson awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. Can you imagine that the great Samson, who exhibited great strength each time the Holy Spirit came upon him, was now like an ordinary man, whom the Philistines captured, plucked out his eyes, put him in shackles, and made him to do hard labour in their prison? Lets note the following very quickly:
If a person is born again, but persistently refuses to submit to the Holy Spirit, it will just be as it was with Samsonhe will become a captive of the devil, who will pluck out his spiritual eyes, rendering him spiritually blindunable to appreciate the enormity of his situation. These people are referred to in 2 Corinthians 4:4 as those In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds , lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. You see, when the devil takes hold of a man who persistently refuses to yield to the Holy Spirit, the devil will make that man to be ignorant of the true state of his condition, and of the things of God, which he once was aware of.
Not only this, but the devil will bind him with fetters. This means that, the erstwhile born again person will now come into bondage to demonic spirits from which he was once delivered. For example, a person who had been delivered from fornication or drug addiction, when he became born again, but who persistently refuses to listen to the Holy Spirit, will soon find himself committing fornication again or returning to drugs, without being able to control himselfthis is because he is back in bondage to the devil, and under his control, and will do whatever Satan asks him to do, whether he likes it or not!
Also, we read that Samson was grinding in the enemys prison house. When the Holy Spirit leaves a person who was once born again, that person will become a labourer to the devil. The young man who found himself back in fornication, may discover that he is now involved in homosexual conduct, drugs, wild parties, etc. In essence, he will be wanton, and will now be committing sin with impunity, and will oppose everything which Christ teaches us to uphold!

So, when a person who is born again refuses to submit or yield to the Holy Spirit, but instead, continues to live according to the dictates of his old nature, everything that he does will be dead works. He may, for example, start attending a church only because his friends attend that church, not because God told him to attend the church; he may join a department in the church, not because the Holy Spirit told him to, but because a girl he thinks he can date is in that department; he may decide to become a pastor not because he is called of God, but because he has been told that he is eloquent and has the voice of a preacher, or because he is unable to get a job and the ministry where he is attending church pay their pastors well. All these activities, as spiritual as they seem to be, are in reality, dead works, because they are influenced by the flesh and wrong motives. We shall continue from here next week, but let us at this time, introspect on our walk with God, and see if we are submitting to the Holy Spirit, or to our old nature. Are you still living in sin? Are you still doing what you want to do? Are you still doing things only because they are convenient? If your answer is Yes, then, you are still being led by your old sinful nature! And if you dont want to be thus led anymore, then, you need to go to God in prayer and ask Him to come and remove your old nature, and entrench the new naturethe nature of Godin you!

Let us pray!