for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 NASB)
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. (Hebrews 6:1-3 NASB)
This passage in Hebrews lists principles of the teachings of Jesus. These principles are for the believer to build a strong spiritual life. They are called the “foundations” of our Christian faith. They are the very basic teachings on which our faith rests. The first of these is “repentance from dead works.”
Repentance: the action or process of repenting especially for misdeeds or moral shortcomings. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
To repent is to turn away from or to stop doing something. Repentance will cause change in us that will show in our outward life. It is an internal change. The Apostle Paul tells us to renew our thinking, to change it so that we glorify God by proving His perfect will.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NASB)
Feeling sorry for our actions and thoughts is not repentance. Rather, it is our emotions which are reacting to what we have done. Repentance is not a reaction but an action. It is something we must do.
At the very beginning of Peter’s ministry, just after being baptized with the Holy Spirit, he told the people of Jerusalem what they needed to do to be saved.
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38 NASB)
Thus, the beginning foundation of our faith is to believe in Jesus and to turn away from our sins. But what is meant by the “foundation of repentance from dead works”? What are dead works?
Essentially it means anything we do which is not of God and does not give glory to Him is dead. There is no life in stealing from others. There IS life in giving to others. There is no life in lying to others but there IS life in speaking truth. Any action or thought that does not build up your treasure in heaven is dead.
The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:45 NASB)
So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:21 NASB)
Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:33-34 NASB)
Although it may sound like it from the Acts 2:38 passage repentance is not something we do just once. It is something we do every day, all the time. We are to actively seek to stay away from sin activities and thoughts. It is not easy and it is a constant struggle everyone lives with. Just refer back to our memory verse and see that everyone is afflicted with the sin curse.
In Scripture the word “repent” has many meanings depending on its use. As with many languages words can have many meanings. The repentance we have been talking about so far is exactly as we have defined it. However, you will read instances in the Bible where the word is used with different meaning.
For example, Judas repented after betraying Jesus. Many people do not know this. But the repentance he had did not lead to salvation.
Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” (Matthew 27:3-4 NASB)
The Greek word for repent used here does not mean change. In this passage it refers to emotion of sorrow, anguish and regret. He was very sorry for what he had done but there was no action to change his ways. He continued in his sin and then committed the ultimate sin of destroying the temple of the Holy Spirit, his body by hanging himself.
Once again, “Dead works” are actions of a life lived apart from God as the world itself lives. The very center of these “Dead works” or sins is selfishness. We love ourselves first before loving others.
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, (2 Timothy 3:2 NASB)
By loving ourselves we leave no room for God in our lives. Without God we go astray and become lost.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6 NASB)
Turning to our own ways is to be selfish. Examine for yourself. If a line forms to receive food, are you one who tries to be first in line or at least before others? Or do you wait for others to be served first?
This is a simple self examination but watch others when this situation occurs. Not being judgmental about it but to see and learn how people are naturally selfish and self-seeking. By understanding our selfishness we may be able to see ways of improving our ability to put others before us.
THE ORIGIN OF SIN
Where did sin come from? Some think it came when Adam and Eve sinned against God. Actually, evil was around long before man was created. According to the Bible it is believed that Lucifer, the devil, was a beautiful angel perfectly created by God. But Lucifer, also known as Satan, decided he wanted to be greater than all other angels and be just like God.
“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ (Isaiah 14:12-14 NASB)
And again in Ezekiel:
Again the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God, You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; It has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; You have become terrified and you will cease to be forever.’” (Ezekiel 28:11-19 NASB)
It was Satan who was given the earth as his personal playing ground. The earth is under his control for now. But God still holds the ultimate control even over Satan. Read the book of Job to see how Satan had to ask for permission to bring calamity upon Job.
After Adam and Eve were created they were given a command to never each of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But the devil tempted them both into eating the fruit and their eyes were opened to what good and evil is. Thus, they sinned against God.
This is what is known today as “original sin”. It is the first sin man ever did. With that sin God cursed the serpent, man, and woman.
When God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree He told them if they did they would die. The devil lied and said they would not die. What they did not realize was they may not have died a physical death they did die a spiritual death. It was their sin that brought spiritual death into the world.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12 NASB)
This passage points to the truth that by Adam’s sin spiritual death entered into the world. And, this death was not just for Adam and Eve but for all mankind because ALL HAVE SINNED.
Why does death follow sin?
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 NASB)
BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOR SIN
The word sin can be seen in many different ways. In other words, there are many ways to sin. Becoming familiar with these ways can help us to see sin when we confront it.
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
The word “sin” means a transgression of the law of God or an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible. Basically it means to miss the mark.
We, as Christians, want to live our lives the way God wants us to. We intend to do the right things and to live a sinless life. But we wind up sinning. Understand that this is because of the “sin nature” of man. Man is born to sin.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 NASB)
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 NASB)
No man has ever lived a sinless life except for Jesus. It is because of His perfect life He was able to die for our sins. Not just the sins of our past but our the present and future sins.
And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:20-23 NASB)
Bad, damaging, dangerous, wicked, hurtful, harmful.
From the word “wicked” which means fierce, vicious, disposed to or marked by mischief, disgustingly unpleasant, causing or likely to cause harm, distress, or trouble.
So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, (Matthew 13:49 NASB)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)
From a foundations point of view we are instructed to stay away from wickedness.
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19 NASB)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (Romans 1:18 NASB)
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19 NASB)
And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Mathew 7:23 NASB)
All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. (1 John 5:17 NASB)
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, (Ephesians 2:1 NASB)
Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. (Galatians 3:19 NASB)