The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘good works’

Dead Works vs. Good Works

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 24, 2013

Hebrews 6:1-2 contains a list of foundational principles of the doctrine (teaching) of Christ. In order, they are:  repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

So…what exactly is repentance from dead works?

I have heard it taught that this refers to a repenting of doing good works, and that one must be sure not to do good works when they are seeking salvation.

The gospel, presented with this particular understanding of repentance from dead works, looks like this:

You must repent of doing good works (often called “self-righteousness”) and you must understand there is nothing you can do. Then have faith in Jesus and He will do it all.

This explanation of the gospel is woefully inadequate and dangerous. Some people who hear this message conclude that their works (good or bad) don’t matter at all, and that trying to live a life pleasing to the Father is sinful. They think it would be a better expression of faith if they stop (repent of) trying to do good, and just go with the flow, trusting the mercy of God to cover them. I believe this false understanding is a recipe for spiritual shipwreck.

While it is true that we can’t earn salvation with good works, I do not think this is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind. By dead works, I believe he meant works that lead to death–or in other words, sin.  Remember, the wages of sin is death. We are required to repent of sin/iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19).  We are to repent of dead works, and we begin to do the good works that glorify our Father (Matt. 5:16) which God has ordained for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10). We don’t begin to do those good works in order to earn our salvation, but because we have been converted from the heart to love righteousness and hate wickedness as our Father does.  [For more detail on the necessity of biblical repentance and what it looks like, please read Repentance Toward God.]

Hebrews 9:13-14 also contains the phrase dead works. Look at how it is used–

For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Do we need our conscience cleansed in the blood of Christ from righteous works or from evil works? Evil works offend our conscience and weigh us down with guilt. Notice we go from doing these dead works to serving the living God. In other words, we go from doing evil (serving the flesh and idols) to doing good (serving God.)

Another interesting verse is Rev. 9:20–

But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.

Notice that the works which mankind was expected to repent of was the worship of demons and idols. They were not condemned because they were trying too hard to please God with good works. They were condemned because they wouldn’t stop worshiping demons and idols.

Elsewhere in Scripture, dead works are referred to as wicked works (Neh. 9:35; Psa. 141:4; Col. 1:21), evil works (Jonah 3:10; John 7:7; 2 Tim. 4:14; I Jn. 3:12), abominable works (Psa. 14:1), works done in the dark (Isa. 29:15), works that are as nothing or vain (Isa. 41:29), works of iniquity that leave a man naked and vulnerable to judgment (Isa. 59:6), works of darkness (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 5:11), and works of the flesh that will exclude us from the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).

Let us remember that Scripture was given that the man of God can be perfect and thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Jesus died for us to redeem us from iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14).  What sets us apart from the world and makes us peculiar is that we are zealous for good works rather than for evil works!  Christians are to consider how to provoke one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24), and we are urged to maintain (continually do) good works (Titus 3:8,14).

Our good works do not atone for the dead works we have done while we were yet children of wrath. We (believers) do not do good works for the purpose of atoning for our sins;  we do them because we love our Redeemer and agree with His ways.

Nevertheless, God commands all men everywhere to repent–to turn from their evil ways and works. Every evildoer is called to repent, and turn from all his transgressions, so that iniquity will not be his ruin (Ezek. 18:30).  Do not let the false explanation of some teachers water down the seriousness of the Bible’s warnings. Repenting of works that lead to death is foundational to the Christian faith, and unless we do repent, we will perish according to Jesus (Luke 13:3-5).

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What Spirit is Working in You?

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 27, 2011

And you [saints] hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. (Eph. 2:1-2)

I’d like to draw your attention to the last phrase, “the prince of the power of the air [satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”  The saints to whom Paul was writing had walked according to the course of this world only in time past.  Since then they had died with Christ, and been raised to a new holy life. Their conduct was no longer disobedient toward God, for those who are disobedient now are still being controlled by satan.

Many profess to be children of God and filled with the Spirit of God. However, the tree is known by the fruit it produces (Luke 6:44).

The Spirit of God is the HOLY Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to and finds rest in only those who obey God (Acts 5:32).  If a man is filled with the Holy Spirit, his works will be holy, for the Spirit working in him will produce fruit after His own kind (holiness). The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love (obedience to God’s commands–Jn. 14:23), joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance [self-control] (Gal 5:22-23).

If the fruit being produced in a man is fleshly and disobedient to God, the spirit at work in that man is the devil. He can say he believes in Jesus all he wants; even the devil himself believes in Jesus. Not only that, but the devil trembles, knowing that Jesus will soon crush him beneath the feet of the saints (Jam. 2:19; Rom. 16:20).  What the devil will not do is obey Jesus. And those who are taken captive by satan to do his will also live in disobedience (2 Tim. 2:26). As their father does, so do they.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44a)

Those who are doing “the lusts of your father [the devil]” are yet children of the devil.

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (I John 3:10)

Are you DOING righteousness? Not merely acknowledging that Christ was righteous, but doing likewise–living as He lived? Have you crucified your flesh with its affections and lusts?–If not, you are not yet Christ’s (Gal. 5:24). If you are still walking after the flesh, be assured that you will die (forfeit eternal life; Rom. 8:13). Let no one deceive you that you can walk after your flesh and yet possess eternal life.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Gal. 5:19-21)

Those who DO such things shall NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God. For King Jesus Himself will send His angels to remove from His kingdom all things that cause sin and those who DO sin and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41-42). It makes no difference what you believe in your mind and profess with your mouth, if your works continue to be unrighteous.  For many will say “Lord, Lord” on judgment day, and the Lord will turn them away forever because they did not put His words into practice in their everyday lives (Matt. 7).

So I ask you, dear reader, what spirit is working in you? Is it the Holy Spirit of God, working what is righteous and obedient to the Lord? Or is it the spirit of the devil, working what is disobedient?

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  (Eph. 5:3-7)

“Let it not once be named among you,” for the children of disobedience have only wrath to look forward to! Those who live and preach that we can only be disobedient for the rest of our lives have missed the whole purpose of the gospel of grace; they do not understand that Jesus has come to redeem us from all sin and purify for Himself a peculiar people who no longer walk in disobedience, but are zealous for doing what is good (Titus 2:11-14).

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry:  for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. (Col. 3:5-6)

Again, the children of disobedience will have wrath!  If this describes you, your only hope is to repent of doing evil, and turn to the Lord in obedience, trusting in His sacrifice to atone for your past rebellion.  Do not receive the grace of God in vain; do not do injury to the Spirit of grace by continuing in willful disobedience after coming to know the truth, lest you be considered worthy of greater punishment than those who despised Moses’ law and died without mercy (Heb. 10:26-29).

You must let the devil do his works in you no longer, giving him no place (Eph. 4:27).  Submit yourself to God (letting Him reign and rule in your life); resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Jam. 4:7).  The Son of God to Whom you submit was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (I Jn. 3:8). In becoming Christ’s servant and the servant of righteousness, you will no longer be the servant of sin or the devil. In submitting to His yoke (both His control and His divine assistance), you will find rest for your soul at last.  Follow the Lamb of God–Jesus–who only did what pleased the Father (Jn. 8:29).  As He lived, so you are called to live in this world (I Jn. 4:17).  If you do this, you will have confidence before Him at His coming because you have been abiding in Him (I John 2:28) and His Spirit has been living in you (I Jn. 3:24).

May God bless you and dwell in you by His Spirit!

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