For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. Hebrews 5:12
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,Hebrews 6:1
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14
Notice here that repentance from dead works and faith toward God are set forth as first and foundationalprinciples of the doctrine of Christ. If foundational, that means it is a vital component of the doctrine of Christ, the gospel that is believed upon by all those who are saved for as we read in 2 Jn 9: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”
So, by this we know that repentance from dead works and faith toward God are identifying characteristics of all true believers. Just as Paul wrote of how the Thessalonians had “…turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;” (I Thess. 1:9b), likewise all for whom Christ died, shall without fail experience the sure effect of His shed blood. Their consciences (the seat of judgment) shall be purged from dead works to serve the living God. And this blood-work of a purged conscience is evidenced by their repentance of dead works. To repent of dead works is to repent of ever having dared to place any work that proceeded from me, the sinner, in the place of (or in rivalry with) that which it took to satisfy the holy justice of God – nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. And nothing more!
--- Randy Wages
“O Wretched Man That I Am!”
There is a vast difference between the view the self-righteous lost sinner has of himself and the view the saved sinner has of himself. The problem lies in natural man’s depravity which renders him totally incapable of discerning good and evil. For this reason, they judge those people who are moral, sincere, and dedicated to religion to be “good people” in spite of the fact that the Scripture plainly declare: “As it is written, There is NONE righteous, no, not one: There is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is NONE THAT DOETH GOOD, no, not one. (Rom.3:10-12). Without question, every sincere, dedicated, moral religionist considers himself to be better than he was before. How many times have you heard this saying? “I’m not what I should be; I’ll never be what I ought to be; but thank God I’m not what I used to be.” Is this how you judge your position before the true and living God?
We have an example of this wicked and evil practice displayed in the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee in Luke 18. The parable is prefaced with this important statement: “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves (i.e., they didn’t trust in Christ’s righteousness alone, but their own self-righteousness) that they were righteous, and despised others ”(Lk.18:9). Notice the Pharisees’ view of himself – “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself (his prayer was to himself, NOT TO GOD), God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess,”(vss.11,12). Isn’t that amazing? He “thanked God”, i.e., he even gave God the credit for making him into this new and improved creature which he judged worthy of salvation. If you are a lost sinner, I know you consider yourself to be a “good person,” and this opinion of yourself reveals how little you value both the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Publican in this parable shows us how every truly saved sinner, whose heart the Spirit of God has opened, views themselves before God – “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful (literally, be my mercy seat, a propitiation) to me a (the) sinner” (Vs.13). Every child of God begins this journey with this solitary confession: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”(Rom.7:24). And when we come to the end of this journey, our plea will be the same: “O wretched man that I am!WHO SHALL deliver USfrom this body of death?” Who can deliver us? Paul answered this question: “I THANK GOD through (because of)JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD”( Vs.25). Christ justified and delivered every son of God He represented with His onetime sacrifice at Calvary -- (II Tim.1:9). Thank God for His marvelous grace and mercy!
---Richard Warmack, Pastor of Grace Baptist in Ruston, La.