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Repentance from Dead Works (1 of 7)

Mike Connell

Page 6 of 10
Ok, I need to get a position. I'll work hard, and I'll get to the top of this or the top of that or top of the school, top of the community, top of the government or I'll get to the top of the church. But all the same, right inside, there's still a desire that can't be quenched, because even if you get all those things, it still doesn't give you the answer.

Well then, I'll try hard to be accepted in love. I'll really work on my relationships. I'll do all I can - well it's still not going to solve the problem, the problem's far deeper than that.

Well I know what - I'll work out what's good for me - and so hence man began to live this way. This is how we define life: if it's good for me, it's good. If it's not good for me, it's not good. That's how far we've fallen. That's how self-centred we are; and so we come to church: if it's good for me, I like it. If it's not good for me, and I don't like it, then I won't accept it. We're living from a totally wrong centre.

Man became his own centre, not God; so this issue of Turning from Dead Works is an issue of shifting your centre.

So what happens if you become a Christian? Well, you give your life to Jesus Christ; and the spirit of God comes into you. Now the dilemma is this: you have to leave the old centre. You have to leave the old self-centred life. Why do you have to leave that? Because it doesn't work! The spirit of God, and the life of God, does not flow through a life that is self-centred; it flows through a life that's yielded and open and in love with God as a father.

A classic example of this is the Prodigal Son. Remember the Prodigal Son left the home, and he abandoned the Father's love, and went out and he got broken, he got attached to all kinds of things; but here's the thing: he repented of his lifestyle, came back, and received a gift! He didn't have to do anything - just he turned, he repented; and the Father just shouts, he embraced him and hugged him, restored him, gave him what he never deserved. That's grace operating! This is the life of God.

How did he get it? He just repented; and he could hardly even believe all the things that God had for him, when he let go the substitutes, and attached back to his father.

The older son is representative of religious people - people who become religious. What do we mean by religion? Religion is your efforts to get yourself right with God, your efforts to become righteous, and better than others. So what was going on in the elder son's life was something like this: he was a hard worker. He tried to live a perfect life, but you know what? You can't be perfect trying to live a perfect life, because you always blow it somewhere! So he tried so hard, trying so hard to please his father, trying so hard to get approval, so hard to get acceptance - but it's all about him working.

The father said to him: this was always available as a gift to you - you didn't have to do all the work; but he just got working so hard, trying to be good; and the result was this happened inside him: he then looked down on the brother and judged him. He despised someone who was less than him. He worked to be superior, he tried to be better than the other, he tried to present himself as being good; but actually it was all his own works, his own rights, his own struggling and driving. He was a driven man. He was striving to get acceptance and love - and it never came to him. Then, when he saw what grace looks like, instead of saying: I want some of that; he refused to repent. Now you've got to remember this: this is a reference to the Pharisees of Jesus day, who: tithed, went to church, did well, kept laws, looked scrupulous on the outside - but it didn't change the heart.