If we were to outline the apostles’ doctrine “Repentance from dead works,” it would roughly look like this:
I. Repentance from Dead Works
A. Repentance from sin
B. Repentance from faults
We see that this teaching of repentance is divided into two distinct categories that are very different in meaning. Most people do not know the scriptural difference. The denominations have their own definitions. There is much confusion.
Especially when it comes to sin. Some say that shuffling your feet on a sawdust floor is sin. Some say that sipping a glass of wine is a sin. Some say losing your patience and yelling at someone is a sin.
God looks at the intent of the heart and not the outward appearance of things like natural man does. Sin is the state of spiritual being that we are born with. It is based on the love of self and the ego’s unquenchable drive for self-aggrandizement. In essence, sins are the actions one does in the worship of one’s self. Sin is selfishness incarnate. It is a spiritual state of self-worship and all that it entails. The scriptures say that “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3: 4). That “law” is the Ten Commandments.
“Thou shalt not steal” is a pretty plain commandment. One steals from another for selfish reasons. It is not to help the victim of the theft. “Thou shalt not covet.” This is desiring things that another has, including wives or husbands. This is sin. As you go down the list of the Ten Commandments, you see how the worship of the self dominates and thereby breaks every one of them. Self-worship is the root cause of sinning.
Love Fulfills the Ten Commandment Law
The law must be taken as a whole to be understood. Breaking the Ten Commandments is a state of spiritual being alienated from God, who is Love. The state of Love keeps or obeys the law. The old nature of man wants and takes for himself. The new nature of Love gives to others. “Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13: 9-10). There is no law against loving others. But there are laws on God’s book against selfishness and the sin that comes out of it.
The old original Adamic nature that man is born with cannot keep the law, try as he will. But “love fulfills the law.” God’s Spirit of love does keep the law—inside us! The old nature we are born with cannot obey the law, for its nature is opposite of loving God and others. This is why the old nature must die on the cross with Christ. “The wages of sin is death,” so for the lost person, it is best to just die now (spiritually) and avoid the rush. Death is coming for all who have sinned, for all who have broken the Ten Commandment Law. Christ’s sacrifice as our sin offering has given us an opportunity to let our sinful selfish nature die with Him, be buried with Him, and to be resurrected with Him—by believing God’s word about Him.
The old nature is a sin nature that must die in revelation with Christ. This is how we repent from sin. By faith we receive an earnest of His Spirit in a new life in Him by faith in His resurrection. God has given us a portion of His Spirit that is sufficient to change our lives from sin to righteousness. It is now that we can begin to grow in this new life He has given us. At this beginning stage we are spiritual newborn babes in Christ. And there are things to digest in the milk of the word given by God’s five offices. We learn how to do certain new things in our new walk, and we learn of old things that need to be gotten rid of.
These are called faults. These actions are not breaking the Ten Commandments; they are not sin. Children of God have them. These shortcomings must be repented of as they are revealed to us—if we desire to grow in God. Many followers of Christ confuse faults with sins. Faults are habits of thoughts and actions generated by a lack of knowledge of God’s plan and purpose. Faults in Christians are things in our lives that show our lack of spiritual maturity. [More on “faults” next time.] Kenneth Wayne Hancock
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