Repentance from dead works
Believers are often exhorted to repent from sin. However, in the New Testament we are actually exhorted to repent from dead works. You see, sin is simply the fruit, dead works are the root…. Dead works are not sins. They are the religious things people do, thinking that by doing these things, they are gaining righteousness with God.
Hebrews 6:1 says, “So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding., not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and faith toward God.” When the Bible talks about repentance, it is usually talking about us changing our minds about what we believe. What you believe produces the actions in your life. When we think of dead works, we tend to think of evil works. Paul (we assume it is Paul’s writing) is not talking about evil works, but about dead works. Dead works will kill you faster than evil works will. Evil works can also kill you, but Paul is not saying in this passage to repent about chasing women. Paul did not chase women. He is not saying in this passage to repent from being a drunkard, or drug addict. Paul was not a drunkard or drug addict. He is not saying to repent from cheating and stealing. He did not cheat and steal. What Paul had to change his mind about was what he believed would make him righteous. When we accept Jesus, we have to change our minds (REPENT) from dead works.
WHAT ARE DEAD WORKS?
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” There is no functional difference between dead works and good works. People are easily confused about good works and dead works. We are supposed to do good works, but we are supposed to change our minds about dead works. Dead works and good works can be the same action with different motives.
If you pray because you think that praying makes you right with God, that’s a dead work. But if you pray because you are right with God and you know that He loves you, there is power there. So praying can be a dead work if the motivation behind it is wrong. For a lot of people, getting saved is getting a fire insurance policy and praying and reading the Bible is paying the premiums.
If you are praying because you think you have to in order to earn something from God, that is dead works. If you are praying because you want to have a relationship with God, that is good works. If you are reading your Bible because you think it qualifies you for God’s blessings, that is dead works. If you are reading your Bible because you want to renew your mind, learn about God, and grow as a person, that is good works.
Witnessing.........Many people think they have to witness for God to love them or to go to heaven and earn rewards. THAT IS DEAD WORK!! Witnessing because you have a passion for people and because you care about what happens to them is good works. It is not just what you do. It is the motive behind what you do.
Attending church . . . Some who attend church hate it, but others love it because they want to come together. They want to learn about God. They want to walk with God. They want to be a part of a family. They want to make their life count -- THAT IS GOOD WORKS. Anything can be dead works or good works. What determines the difference is your motive behind whatever you are doing. When you get saved you do not have any more ability to live above sin than you did before you got saved, apart from the grace of God. That is why Christians still have problems with sin. They are trying to do the best they can to get rid of sin by their efforts instead of trusting God to work in their lives. Attempting to be made righteous by one’s ability is a dead work!