Foundations of the Faith
the elementary teachings in Hebrews 6
that prepare disciples in Yeshua to move on to maturity
Repentance from Dead Works
The first foundational area that we will look at is "repentance from dead works". Repentance means "to return from", and all it requires is a change in direction.
However, our change in direction "from dead works" is only good as long as we are still going away from them. There are about 70 kinds of sin listed in the New Testament which will keep us from inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven. If one of those is something we continue to practice "off and on", then our faith foundation is so seriously flawed that it cannot be safely built on.
Repentance also requires that our "return from sin" be complete. If we have repented from all "dead works" except lying, what good will it do us to repent from murder and fornication? If we harbor one small, unseen sin in our heart as "not hurting anyone", what good will it do us to repent from the easily seen and easily condemned sins?
Actually, any such sin cannot exist alone - it is necessarily accompanied by rebellion and idolatry: rebellion against the Word of G-d which teaches us not to do it, and the idolatry of serving our own will above that of G-d.
All sins are the natural behavior of our "old man", and so there is a service that a list of these sins can perform for us: to identify our "old man" in the various places where he still resides (or hides) in us.
But such a list is powerless to actually get rid of him for us. In this respect, the New Testament list is no different from what is contained in the Law of Moses. The only way we can stop committing these sins is to live in our new man all the time, and to leave our old man suffering the agonies of death on the cross.
There is another kind of "dead" works: "But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."
The men of faith mentioned in the New Testament were also required to repent from such things.
We see then, that it is not enough to avoid the sins that are characteristic of our "old man", the person in us who inherited the sinful nature of Adam. We must actively walk daily in faith and in the faithfulness of our "new man". This is our new-creation inheritance, and it includes the obedience that is possible by living in Messiah: "I have been crucified with Messiah and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of G-d, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
More than that, if we are not actively putting to death the sinful human nature that we were born with, we will continue to discover that he produces spiritual death in us by simply being who he is. Disguising him in piety and good deeds will not help: "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."
If we have been raised in a disciplined environment, we will often find him hiding in the subtler sins, such as self-love, envy, self-righteousness, legalism, dissension, lukewarmness and coveting.
We must choose every day to let Messiah live through us: "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of G-d lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Messiah, he does not belong to Messiah. But if Messiah is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."
The foundation of repentance from dead works can therefore not be established in us unless the life of Messiah has been established in us: "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah."
Let us therefore test ourselves, to see if indeed this foundation has been laid: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Messiah Yeshua is in you? - unless, of course, you fail the test."
In fact, this is what defines us as the people of G-d: " Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with G-d's people and members of G-d's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself as the chief cornerstone."
Scripture references, in the order that they appear:
2 Samuel 6:6-7
1 Corinthians 13:3
1 Corinthians 3:11
2 Corinthians 13:5
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