From Dead Works to a Living Relationship
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.
Ever kept your eye on the clock while you prayed or read your Bible? Ever felt relieved when the clock showed that you could stop (because you have diligently done your part to merit God’s righteousness) and get on with the rest of your day?
My friend, 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. Can you see the difference? It is the same activity—prayer—but the bases and motivations for doing it are completely different. One is a dead work while the other is a living work born of grace.
Similarly, if you study the Bible because you think that doing so makes you right with God, you have missed it. That’s a dead work. There will be no revelation because you are not flowing with the Spirit of truth, who bears witness with your spirit that you are already right with God. But if you study the Bible because you know that you are right with God and that the Bible is a love letter from the One who made you right, treasures from His Word will open up to you.
Look again at today’s scripture. Of all the things that make up the foundation of our faith, the Bible exhorts us to “repent from dead works.” Dead works are the so-called “good works” that people do to try to gain righteousness with God. And whether you live your Christian life in dead works or in faith toward God through a revelation of God’s grace can mean the difference between life and death.
Wilson is someone who can testify to this. Writing to me from Australia, he told me how he was handed one of my books by a woman he did not know. She just walked up to him and said she felt led to give it to him. Imagine how that must have sounded to someone who had been burned by legalistic teachings and was trying to get as far away from God as he could for the last two decades. His curiosity piqued, Wilson opened the book . . . and embarked on a precious journey that has brought healing, wholeness, liberty, and a new, loving relationship with God. Here is Wilson’s story of that journey in his own words:
Pastor Prince, what can I say? Your book changed my life! After running from God for the last twenty years, I finally stopped and turned back to God because of the way this book explains who God really is and what Jesus did for us on the cross. I now know (and am still learning daily) who I am in Christ.
Through your book, I have discovered that Christianity is not a religion like I thought it was and experienced before. Now I know that God is alive, He truly loves me, and is for me. This is the best thing that has happened to me!
Furthermore, I have given up smoking by following the ways you mentioned in your book and on some DVDs—to look to Jesus as my righteousness and declare I am righteous in Him even if that is the last thing I feel at that moment. You showed me that no matter what I have done or do, Jesus still loves me, and it’s because of this that I have been able to give up smoking. I couldn’t give it up through my own efforts before, but through resting in Him—His love, His righteousness—I have. Besides the cigarette addiction, I have also been set free from twenty years of drug and alcohol abuse and am now free of paranoid thoughts too.
I have also just enrolled in an online Bible college because now I’m hungry to know Him. I get your teachings on Facebook every day, which help me a great deal. Thank you for being obedient to God’s call on your life. You have helped make the doors to the church even wider for new Christians and also for those who have walked away.
Do you see what an amazing change knowing and believing right about God (and how He deals with us today) can bring? Listen, my friend, God does not want you in dead works—depending on your own efforts to please Him and qualify for His blessings. God wants you having and operating out of a personal and loving relationship with Him, not out of a sense of religious obligation. Dead works will bring you into bondage because it’s all dependent on your own efforts to please God. It will steal the life and joy right out of your Christian walk, like it did for Wilson many years ago.
Today, realize that God’s Word exhorts us to repent (change our minds) from dead works and believe the gospel. How do you do this? See the cross. See how God loves you so much that He sent Jesus, who came down to where you were to bring you up to where He is—something no amount of your self-effort can ever do.
Like Wilson, see Jesus’ obedience making you righteous (Rom. 5:19), and praise Him for His marvelous grace! Enjoy His wonderful presence today when you come to Him in prayer or read His Word. Let Him fill your heart, mind, and body with His grace, peace, wholeness, and life.
This devotional is taken from the book Reign in Life—90 Powerful Inspirations for Extraordinary Breakthroughs.
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