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Repentance from Dead Works (35)


We began in our last broadcast, to see the reasons why a person who is born again will engage in dead works. Ordinarily, one would take it for granted that once a person is born again, all that should issue forth from him will be good works. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. And in our last broadcast, we noted that one major reason why people who are born again continue to engage in dead works, is because they have not been taught the word of God in a way that will make them do good works. We saw from 2 Timothy 3:16-17, that the believer in Christ is enabled to do good works through the correct teaching and application of the word of God. Another reason which we mentioned, but did not elaborate on, is that even though a person is born again, his refusal to yield himself to be transformed and led by the Holy Spirit, will lead to his engaging in dead works. Several weeks ago, we asserted that unless the Holy Spirit was effectual in you, leading and directing you on what, and how, to do things, everything you do will be contrary to Gods will, and thus, dead works.

Let us read Galatians 5:16-17 & 19-25, and Im reading from the Easy-to-Read Translation of the Bible: So I tell you, live the way the Spirit leads you. Then you will not do the evil things your sinful self wants. The sinful self wants what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against the sinful self. They are always fighting against each other, so that you don't do what you really want to do. 19The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: committing sexual sin, being morally bad, doing all kinds of shameful things, worshiping false gods, taking part in witchcraft, hating people, causing trouble, being jealous, angry or selfish, causing people to argue and divide into separate groups, being filled with envy, getting drunk, having wild parties, and doing other things like this. I warn you now as I warned you before: The people who do these things will not have a part in God's kingdom. But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person's life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their sinful self. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit.

For everyone who is born again, there are two natures at war within himthe old nature of sin, which promotes the self-life, and, the new nature of holiness, which is the result of Christ living in and through him. Every born again child of God will do what he is influenced or convinced to do by either of these two opposing natures. For a person who is not born again, his actions are always influenced, swayed, or directed by the desires of the old sinful nature, or the needs of the self-life; that is, he is always self-focused, or, simply, selfish. And because the old nature of sin is opposed to the Holy Spirit, anyone who is directed by that nature will be opposed to God and thus, be engaged in dead worksthat is all he can be led to doeven if he is born again! Galatians 5:19-21, lists acts which anyone influenced by his old sinful nature will engage in; and they include:
(a) Sexual immorality, manifesting as fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bi-sexuality, bestiality, prostitution, and so on;
(b) Ethical immorality, which manifest as bribery, corruption, nepotism, embezzlement, etc.;
(c) Idolatry, which manifest as covetousness, greed, avarice, the placement of money and its acquisition above all else, etc.; and,
(d) Cliques, which manifest as segregation, ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination, a them versus us grouping which has birthed fraternities, and cults. For example, it is dead works for churches to reserve seats for the wealthy; just as it is dead works for churches to be established along racial, ethnic, or tribal lines.

But when a born again child of God yields himself to be led, influenced, or directed by the Holy Spirit, he cannot but engage in good works, which can be clearly seen in the fruit thereof. All such good works are always selfless and Holy Spirit motivated. For example, when you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, you will show kindness to people, not because you know them, have something to benefit from them, or need to use such acts of benevolence as a publicity stunt for fame and glory; rather, it will simply be because you are being led by the Spirit of God. Indeed, such acts of benevolence may be unpalatable to you in the foreseeable future, but if you follow the Holy Spirit, you will eventually reap the blessing of eternal life in the unforeseeable future. Other traits that will be clearly seen will be the joyful conduct of the born again child of God, even when he is being abused by the same people he is showing kindness to; for example, he will be praying for those who are persecuting him, and will continue to show them kindnessthis is what is called long-suffering. A person who yields himself to be led by the Holy Spirit is therefore, someone who has come to one conclusionand that is, his life is no longer his, but Christs! For such a person, Galatians 2:20 holds truereading from the Good News Translation, it reads, I have been put to death with Christ on His cross, so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.

Anyone who lives his life on the basis that it is no longer his, but Christs, is someone who has been put to death with Christ on His cross; that is, he has been crucified or has put to death, his old nature which loves to sin and live selfishly. This is not a pleasurable thing to do; it is however, an essential thing to do if you are going to cease from doing dead works. Crucifying the old sinful nature, or the flesh, is like permanently parting ways with a best friendexcept that the old nature is not a friend at all, but the enemy within, who has been with you since birth. The flesh makes you to live in a manner that is not pleasing to God. It makes you religious; that is, it makes you attend church regularly, without forsaking sin. The flesh never lets you be wholly devoted or committed to God. It is the enemy within, who leaks information about your activities to Satan. For example, you may have noticed that after you have made up your mind to fast before the Lord, even though you mentioned it to no one, you find yourself being tempted to have a rethink on the fast, giving yourself several reasons why you shouldnt fastthis is the work of the flesh: informing the kingdom of darkness that you are planning to fast, and they in turn now set an array of tempting reasons why you should not fast. It is the flesh that makes people to delight in flirtatious dressing and conduct, and to manifest inordinate sexual appetites. The flesh does much more evil than you can imagine, so the only way to avoid being a victim to the flesh, is to be permanently rid of itthis is what the crucified life is about! When the Lord said, in Luke 14:27, And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple, He was intimating about the crucified life. He was saying, in other words that, unless you live like someone who has been crucified, you cannot be his disciple, that is, a Christian. It is not possible to be facing death, and at the same time, be thinking about how to make money, or how to woo someone into a sexual encounter with youyour thoughts will be of the impending death and what will happen to you afterwards! Indeed, unless you forsake everything else and follow Jesus Christ, you are not a Christian! The truth is that because of Jesus death on the cross on account of sin, all those who become born again are forgiven of their past sins, and are empowered not to sin again. Now, making this truth a reality in your life requires that you forsake everything that is on offer in the world, and follow Christ! The imagery of forsaking all is aptly captured in what happened when the Lord Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John as recorded in Luke 5:11the bible says, they forsook all, and followed Him. What this means is that Peter and his friends abandoned their profession, vocation, career, life-goals, ambitions, and, personal desires for greatness, so that they could go and be with Jesus! Friend, for as long as you are still attached to your profession, career, life goals, ambitions, dreams of fame and glory, etc., you will be unable to engage in good works, for you will be motivated by these desires; not the Holy Spirit. Paul, the apostle lets us into how he was able to abandon a flourishing career or vocation as a burgeoning member of the Sanhedrin in order to follow Christ, and suffer for Him. He wrote, by the Holy Spirit in Galatians 6:14 [Im reading the Gods Word Translation], But it's unthinkable that I could ever brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. By his cross my relationship to the world and its relationship to me have been crucified. Brethren, the message of the cross does more than bring us into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christit also brings us to the place of being crucified in the flesh and to the world. When this has happened to you, nothing in this world can sway you into abandoning your call in Christ, in order to chase wealth, fame, or glory. Let us give an illustration here: If you have a dislike and distaste for the local delicacy, popularly known as fufu or loi loi. No matter how well it is wrapped; no matter how stylishly it is advertised by the street hawker; no matter how sweet the soup it is served with; you will not eat it, because you have been crucified to fufu. In other words, fufu cannot entice you! In the same way, when you have been crucified through the cross of Christ, no matter how enticing the fashion of the world is, you will not be drawn to it; no matter how tempting a girls dressing is, you will not be drawn to herindeed, you will be repulsed by her! The Easy-to-Read Translation of James 1:14, states: You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you. This verse of scripture tells us that people are tempted and drawn away by the devil, because there is a desire in them which is attracted to the devils offer. For example, if you desire to be rich, it will not take much to tempt you to steal, cheat, commit fraud, give or take bribe, or even kill for money. Similarly, if you are easily sexually aroused, it will not take much to lure you into fornication or adultery. Let us make it clearer: if you move a magnet toward a piece of wood within which nails are embedded; that piece of wood will be drawn by the magnet; but if, there are no nails embedded within a piece of wood, even the most powerful magnet, will not make the piece of wood to move. A corpse does not come alive because of sexual nudity! So, as long as the lusts and desires in you have been crucified, the devil cannot tempt you into pursuing them; but if the lusts and desires in you are still very much alive, you will continue to pursue them at the slightest nudge, and you will thus be engaging in dead works. This is the reason why many people in churches today, have been misled by motivational speakers, who tell them to pursue their dreams, and so, arouse their lust and desire for wealth, fame and glory. Friend, please note that when you are born again, you are to be transformed into the image of Christ. In this way, the principal work of transformation which the Holy Spirit does, is to bring you to the place where all you desire is to please God; where doing your will ceases to dominate you; where doing the will of God becomes your primary mission. When the Lord came, His priority was to do the will of God; not His own will. In the same way, all those who are in Christ, must make doing the will of God their priority! Henceforth, we no longer pursue our dreams and goals; but the vision and desire of God! And in so doing, we shall be engaging in good works!

To summarize; what we have been saying in so many words, we state as follows:
1. Unless you crucify the flesh, and its passions and desires, you will not be able to yield to the Holy Spirit;
2. Unless you yield to the Holy Spirit, everything that you do will be dead works;
3. Unless you acknowledge that all that you have done without the Holy Spirits leading, are dead works, you will not repent of them; and,
4. Unless you repent of your dead works, turn to God and begin to learn how to do good works, you will continue to do dead works!

So, what next? You must go to God in prayers, renouncing every dead work; ask God to crucify the old nature in you, and, put the desire to do His will in you. Please note that this is essentially a matter of praying, and, if need be, fasting, until God uses the cross of Jesus Christ, to destroy every unfruitful work of darkness in your life!

Let us pray!