Elementary Principles, Part 3.

Repentance from Dead Works

The first principle in the list contained in Hebrews 6:1-2 is repentance, and this should be no surprise. Repentance is one of the constants in Scripture, one of the foundational elements of our faith. But what exactly is repentance? How are we to understand it and apply it in our lives?

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word translated “repentance” comes from the root word shuv, which literally means to turn around or return. When used in the context of sin and forgiveness, repentance thus means to return to God. This involves an acknowledgment that we have sinned and strayed from Him by going the wrong way, followed by a real commitment to turn back to the right path which God wants us to walk on. 

Anyone familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures will recognize that the call to repentance is constant and urgent. Sin forms a barrier between God and His people, leading them down a path to destruction. God continually issues warnings to His people in order to draw their attention away from false gods and back to Him. When it becomes evident that their hearts have become exceedingly hardened, God sends the people away into exile. From this place of despair, the people finally are forced to look at their situation and realize that they are in exile due to their failure to heed God’s words and return to Him with all of their heart.

But what about the New Testament? Sometimes we hear preachers point out the fact that in the New Testament the Greek word which is used for repent, metanoeo, literally means, “to change one’s mind.” They take this to mean that no longer does repentance have anything to do with behavior, but rather means only to change your mind and accept the work of Yeshua. Some also then take this to mean that repentance only happens once upon the initial decision to accept Yeshua’s work on the cross. Any further sins after this mental event do not indicate a need for repentance, but nevertheless many teach that one ought to confess and be washed of this sin. The implication of this, however, is that so long as one has “changed their mind” (a phrase too ambiguous to do much good) they have done all they need to do regardless of whether their behavior is being sanctified.

Has God’s will for repentance been altered so drastically from the Old to the New Testament? Whereas before it required a change of behavior, now does the change solely take place in the mind? 

Let’s look at a few examples of repentance in the New Testament. In Acts 3:19, Peter charges the crowd of people gathered in Jerusalem, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” In this verse, repentance is intrinsically linked with returning, just as we see in the Old Testament. Change of mind void of action is not truly repentance. Only when the attitude of our heart is reflected by the physical act of returning to God have we truly changed our mind. Because repentance is thus contingent on behavior, repentance is an ongoing process, not just a one-time event (Matthew 3:8, Acts 26:20;
2 Timothy 2:24-26, Revelation 2:5,20-22).

Another example is found in the words of Yeshua Himself. A report is brought that Pilate has killed some of the Jews as they brought sacrifices to God, which is seen by some as a sign of personal judgment for the wickedness of those individuals. Yeshua responds, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3). A lack of belief is not indicated here in these verses, but rather a failure to turn from sin and produce good fruit. Further evidence for this definition of repentance is given as Yeshua continues to tell a parable, giving the people the following lesson about repentance:

And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9)

After warning the people to repent, He tells this parable likening unrepentance to a tree which bears no fruit. Bearing fruit in the literal sense is most definitely an ongoing action. One cannot simply decide in their mind to plant a seed in the ground but then neglect to care for the plant and expect to receive any produce. Only with constant care and effort can the plant yield a productive harvest. If the tree in the vineyard fails to respond to the vineyard-keeper’s pruning and affection, then it is not fulfilling its purpose, which is to produce good fruit. The same is true spiritually. If one has “changed their mind” but nevertheless has ceased to bear spiritual fruit due to complacency or sluggishness in regard to sin, then repentance, an active, continuous response to the urging of the Spirit, is necessary to begin the process of growth.

Saying all of this is not to diminish the importance of the mental aspect of repentance. True obedience and repentance are not deeds done for their own sake, but must originate in a heart that is full of love for God, from a mind that believes in and relies on Him alone. As Mark 1:15 says, “Repent and believe.” It is impossible to truly turn to God unless we first believe that He is the only source for forgiveness and salvation, and that we can do nothing without His Spirit within us. The error arises when we replace the whole of repentance with only one of its steps. The mind is deceitful and self-justifying, easily capable of truly believing it has changed when in fact it has not. Thus to repent is an external response to an internal conviction.

Dead Works

In the book of Malachi, God is warning the people of Israel and exhorting them to come back to Him in repentance. He says, “’From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘But you say, “How shall we return?”’” (Malachi 3:7). Throughout the book of Malachi the people claim to be ignorant of their sins, and therefore do not see how they need to repent and return to God since they don’t think they have turned away from Him. Unable to see that their relationship with God was injured because they had turned away, they remain steadfast in their sins. Mercifully, God points out the faults of the people so that they may amend their ways.

One lesson this teaches us about repentance is that in order to repent we must first understand God’s ways. If we don’t, then we will not see any need to repent. If we are ignorant of the sin in our lives, then in our own eyes we have nothing to repent of: we are already walking in truth. If we are likewise confronted while in this mindset, then we too will confusedly ask, “How shall we return?” 

The writer of Hebrews, well aware of this truth, signifies that the elementary teaching on repentance is coupled with what to repent of: “dead works.” What are these dead works?

Some commentators have attempted to explain that dead works are works of Torah-obedience. For example:

The meaning cannot be “works that bring death,” as some have supposed; rather, works in which there is no principle of life… The law, indeed, promised that the man who should do “its statutes and judgments” should find life in them (Leviticus 18:5, quoted in Galatians 3:12); but even these works are “dead,” for no man can show more than partial obedience, and the law exacts the whole. The first step toward Christianity involved the acknowledgment of this truth, and the separation by repentance from all “dead works.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

The logic here is flawed because it is based on a false understanding both of Torah and of the context of the passage we are looking at. The commentator sees in the Scripture that obedience to the Torah cannot merit us life (in the context of eternity). Because this is the case, he comes to the conclusion that the Torah itself is devoid of life and therefore obedience to its commandments is a form of dead works. One of the reasons this interpretation fails is because the commentator confuses the role of Torah in an unbeliever’s life with its true essence (Romans 7:12-13). If we indeed have been redeemed by the blood of Yeshua, and if our faith is indeed only in the Lord, then the Torah is no longer a source of death for us (Galatians 3:13-14, Ezekiel 36:27). The price has been paid for our disobedience, and as a result we are called to obey. As the commentator acknowledges, the Torah contains life for those who obey (Psalm 119:40, 93, Proverbs 6:23): not life established because of our own merit through deeds, but rather as a result of our faith and our new nature in Messiah. The nature of the Torah and its association with life remains, and now we are able to walk in that life as we allow Yeshua to live through us. 

One could possibly argue that dead works are here meant to indicate the opposite of this redeemed spiritual mindset, that is, keeping the commandments without faith. These deeds are dead in that they are of no benefit because they are done out of improper motives. While indeed it is true that such works are dead, we must remember the context of the passage. The elementary principles which are given in our passage in Hebrews 6 would be what make up the first steps of faith for a new believer, where the priority is repenting of blatant sin and establishing the necessity of frequent repentance in the process of sanctification. In the case of works done without faith, however, the issue is not the works themselves but that the heart of the individual is not right. If this verse did indeed mean works done without faith, then the phrase “repentance from dead works” the author used would be incorrectly putting the emphasis on the actions instead of the heart.

So what are these dead works that one must repent of? The clearest and most obvious reading of the verse indicates that dead works are sin. Interpreting it this way meshes well with what Scripture as a whole has to say about sin and its connection to death. 

If this is the case, then first of all we must know what sin is. 1 John 4:3 provides us with a concise definition: “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” So to sin is to transgress God’s commandments, His Torah. An interesting picture becomes clear when we look into the original language of the Hebrew Scriptures. The word for sin in Hebrew, chata, in its simplest form means “to miss,” as one might miss a target they were aiming at. The word we translate as law, Torah, is formed off of the root word yarah, which means “to shoot” as with an arrow. This gives us a clear mental image of sin. We aim to obey the commandments of God. When we miss this target by failing to obey, we sin. 

From the very beginning disobedience and sin are equated with death. Contrary to the popular belief, God does not sit up in heaven waiting for people to sin so He can strike them with lightning. Our actions do have consequences, however, and the consequences of disobeying God are not good at all. Adam’s sin led to an expulsion from Eden and the promise of a difficult life, and through the following generations the disastrous consequences of sin became evident and spread throughout the earth.

When God gave the Torah to the people of Israel, He emphasized that to obey is to live and to disobey is to die (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). He did not make this statement as a harsh master attempting to frighten his servants into obedience, but as a concerned parent warning His children to avoid the behaviors that will inevitably be to their harm. Frequently we see God warning His people of the inevitable end their sinful behavior is leading them to because of His mercy and love for them. This is why discipline and rebuke are held in such high esteem throughout Scripture: they keep God’s people on the paths of life.

Sin’s deadly effects have not changed. Some have succumbed to the temptation to trivialize the presence of sin, excusing wrongful behavior by saying that all of our sins have been payed for by Yeshua. Indeed it is true that Yeshua has paid for our sins, and we can be confident that when we come to Him with a truly remorseful heart and ask for forgiveness that He will be merciful and forgive our sins (1 John 1:9). But this does not excuse us if we continue to sin blatantly and frequently, thus deceiving ourselves into believing that God will turn a blind eye to constant disobedience and silently allow us to destroy ourselves. Paul gives the following warning:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

The same Paul who had just said, “It was for freedom that Messiah set us free,” now makes a statement that some would consider to be putting his readers under a yoke of bondage. Clearly he is not giving this warning to the world, but makes the bold statement that those who make a practice out of walking in these forms of wickedness, even if they believe they are forgiven of these sins and claim to have fellowship with Messiah, will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

Works that are dead can only bring death. Scripture is constant in the teaching of this truth (Proverbs 11:19, Ephesians 5:3-10, James 1:15). Paul expands this thought in Romans where he develops the idea that we have been crucified along with Yeshua, and therefore our old sinful self must die along with Him. If we have been crucified with Him and united with Him in death to sin, then how can we still walk in the sinful ways of the unlawful (Romans 6:2)? 

Despite our redeemed status and efforts to walk in the Spirit, we inevitably will sin. We still inhabit a physical body which is guided by its passions and desires. Subduing these desires by dying to the flesh guards us within God’s commandments on the path of life. In the moments when we fail to do this, we inevitably find ourselves following our sinful nature. “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2), and “if we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). This is not stated in order to excuse sin, but to point us in the right direction: toward repentance, turning back to God.

Repentance and the Way of Life

This lifestyle of repentance and sanctification is exactly what the Didache seeks to form in the life of the one who follows it. By establishing two distinct paths, the possibility of morally gray areas is reduced. The opening statement of the Didache sets this tone for the rest of the document: “There are two ways: one of life and one of death; however, there is a great difference between the two ways” (Didache 1.1). Each thought of our heart and deed of our hands is either refining our walk of holiness with God or leading us into unfruitful patterns. The difference between the two is clearly defined in Scripture. The Didache and other similar extra-Biblical works do not attempt to replace the instructions of the Bible, but rather to explain and organize the teachings of Scripture in a simple format. 

This opening statement of the Didache establishes the centrality of repentance in the believer’s life. Whenever a standard of behavior is accepted by an individual or a group, the necessity arises for a system to be put in place for when that standard is not upheld. If, God forbid, a believer should find that their behavior lines up with the way of death rather than the way of life, then the way to amend that is through confession to God, and the evidence that this confession is sincere is that an effort is made to walk in the Spirit, which results in the forsaking of those old sinful ways to walk in obedience and newness of life. 

So if you were to summarize the way of life in one sentence, what would it be? What concise statement could sum up all of the commandments, the entire spectrum of holy living? The Didache, reflecting the words of Yeshua, does it this way:

Now the Way of Life is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, you shall love your fellow as yourself. Whatever you do not want to happen to you, do not do to one another. (Didache 1.2)

Here we find the familiar teaching of Yeshua that the whole Torah really boils down to two seemingly simple commands: love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:28-31, quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18). Meeting these two requirements ensures that you stay on the way of life. Many passages in the New Testament reiterate this teaching, and even when it is not explicitly stated it is obvious that loving God and loving neighbor are at the heart of what is being said (Romans 13:10, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8). Nothing has changed here, for this was also the standard in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:14, Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Job 29:11-17).

Love in this context is not an emotion that stays bottled up inside, but is a driving force that results in visible, concrete actions. While love’s role in motivating us to do good is not to be minimized, the outward action is what is of the greatest benefit to our neighbor. Scripture doesn’t indicate that loving our neighbor could be restated as, “It’s the thought that counts,” but on the contrary we find it said, “Let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10), and “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). 

Rather than replacing the Torah with two commandments, Yeshua and His apostles understood these two as being a summary of the Torah and what the motivation for our actions ought to be. This is obvious from Scripture, for we are told what it means to love God: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Again we read, “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 John 1:6). Again, this is nothing new, for we see throughout the Old Testament that loving God is inseparable from keeping His commandments (Deuteronomy 7:9, 11:1, Nehemiah 1:5).

Since these two commandments are therefore understood as the perfect representation of the rest of the commandments, we see that unless the two greatest commandments are understood properly, they could easily lead to error. How exactly do we love God and our neighbor? On the surface this seems like an easy question, but if we define love outside the context of God’s commandments then we will inevitably run into problems. Often we think of repentance as being necessary when a wrongful action has been done. This is correct but incomplete. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” If we know that God has commanded us to do something and we refuse to do it, then to us that is sin. If we have an opportunity to love God or our neighbor and we pass it by, then that is sin. Education in God’s commandments and the ways of life are necessary if we are going to obey God and thus love Him. 

Therefore we see that the two greatest commandments cannot be separated from the Torah. They form the very backbone of the commandments, but a backbone without a body is not of much use. One without knowledge could act sinfully and genuinely feel as if they did it because of their love for God. Far be it from us to fall into deceit so that the Scripture speaks of us when it says, “They have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Romans 10:2). In other words, emotion without correct doctrine can lead us down a dangerous road.

After introducing the fact that the two great commandments are the fullness of the way of life, the Didache makes it clear that it understands the concept we have just explained. The third verse begins by saying, “This is the teaching about these matters;” that is, these are some of the instructions that the two aforementioned commandments mean in a practical sense. For the next five chapters it goes on to list teachings of Yeshua as recorded in the Gospels, positive and negative commandments (do _____, do not _____), and exhortations based on Scriptural principles. Without laying out this framework for behavior, the concept of repentance would be meaningless.

Interpersonal Repentance

So far we have been talking a lot about repentance in our relationship with God. One aspect of repentance which we do not always think about is the act of repenting of sins done to others. Often when we sin, it is not only against God or our own selves, but there may also be some negative effect on those we are close to, whether it be our families, co-workers, or our fellow believers. When we sin through anger, our anger usually has an effect on those around us. When we sin through lying or deceit, these actions also effect those who were on the receiving end of our sin. When our actions do not reveal love and light to our neighbor, then they at best reveal indifference, which is itself darkness in that it is the absence of love. 

When we sin in this manner, we are not only to ask forgiveness from God, but we must, if at all possible, make things right with the person or people we sinned against. An example of this is seen in the Torah in the context of one who has sinned by stealing: “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep” (Exodus 22:1). While this command is about legal restitution, it reveals God’s will for reestablishing good will between people in a community relationship. The restitution made for a stolen item is not one-for-one, but the command is to restore above and beyond what had been taken. 

When we do sin against our neighbor, feeling sorry about those harmful actions is only the first step in making things right. We must not only change our mind by recognizing that what we did was wrong, but we must turn aside from our wickedness and determine never to do anything that might hurt them again. Additionally, as we saw with the stolen animal, we ought to go above and beyond in doing good to our neighbor after we realize the harm we have caused them. Acknowledge that harm was done and then move forward by repaying your debt with love. 

An example of this in the New Testament is the story of Zaccheus the tax collector (Luke 19:2-8). Experiencing Yeshua changes the heart of Zaccheus, and he recognizes the sinfulness of his behavior. Love of money had led him to abuse his position as tax collector as he heaped up wealth for himself to the harm of those who were charged with these taxes. Immediately he admits the need to make amends for these sins by paying back what he had extorted plus more. 

The Jewish work known as the Mishnah also indicates the importance of repenting to your neighbor: “Yom Kippur atones for transgressions between a person and God, but for a transgression against one’s neighbor, Yom Kippur cannot atone, until he appeases his neighbor” (m. Yoma 8:9). Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the day God set apart for atonement to be made between God and His people. The rabbis said that this was only the case between God and man, but mankind still needed to make any wrongs right between himself and his neighbor. That is one of the reasons why it is traditional in Judaism to ask forgiveness of others for any wrongs done during the year in the days leading up to Yom Kippur. 

Repentance for wrongs done to others is based on this principle of restitution, as has been made clear. The Didache, although it doesn’t provide any specific rules for this process, establishes that it is a necessity for the believer who sins against another to repent:

Do not rebuke one another in anger but rather in peace, just as you have been taught in the good news. And if anyone has wronged another person, let no one speak to him nor let him hear from you until he repents. (Didache 15.3)

Here we see that the members of the community were supposed to keep each other in check while yet remaining under the authority of the religious council. While the statement here is general about rebuking a brother, the context seems to indicate that this is specifically for a case where one believer has sinned against another. 

The authority to rebuke one another in the family of God is established throughout Scripture (Leviticus 19:17, Luke 17:3). Rebuke and exhortation are not the same as judgment or condemnation. Rather than putting our brother down, they seek to lift him up from sin. The Didache echoes the sentiment of Scripture when it commands that a rebuke be done not with anger, but with peace (Proverbs 25:15, Ecclesiastes 9:17). 

An example in Yeshua’s words seems to be the basis for these instructions in this part of the Didache. He says:

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

If a believer wrongs another, it is not beneficial to either party for this wrongdoing to be ignored, but it should not become an issue of the assembly before it is brought up in private. The reason for the progression in these verses, from private to witnesses to the assembly, is to act as a funnel. Somewhere along this process, hopefully the one who sinned will see his need for repentance. If he will not repent, then he is to be considered an outsider until the time when he repents. This may be seen as a cruel punishment, but it is the natural outcome of the sin. Social, interpersonal sins affect the way we relate to others in the body of Messiah, and if there is an issue that refuses to be addressed then it is harmful for it to fester and possibly lead to other or greater sins. 

What if you are on the receiving end of such a sin? You are not free from responsibility either. In Matthew 5:23-24 Yeshua tells us, 

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 

Note that the command is not given to one who has something against his brother, but one whose brother has something against him. If we draw near to worship God but there is ongoing strife and conflict in our relationships, God’s desire is for us to love our neighbor before coming into His presence. Although the other person may still hold resentment towards us even when we extend love toward them, the point is that we must take the first step toward the one who has wronged us. If you truly love your neighbor, then you will long to see him come to repentance. If he has sinned against you, go the extra mile and try to make it easier for him to make amends with you and with God. Forgive him without hesitation just as our Heavenly Father forgives us when we repent. 

According to the Didache, conflict and failure to repent among ourselves is a source of spiritual defilement. As we mentioned in the introduction, communal meals were a holy event which were not to be participated in unless certain conditions were met: “But do not let anyone who has a quarrel with his fellow come together with you until they have reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be impure” (Didache 14.2). If there is discord in our midst, how can God honor the worship we give Him? Paul dealt with this same issue in Corinth: “For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3). 

Therefore it is essential for us to pay attention to our actions and the attitudes of our hearts. Our actions impact others whether we are aware of it or not. Needless to say, it is better to be aware of our actions than ignorant so that we may repent if we stumble and sin against God or against man.

The Gospel of Repentance

So far we have defined repentance and examined some practical instructions about it as found in Scripture, the Didache, and Jewish literature. There is much more that could be said on this matter, but for the sake of brevity in this study we will only examine one more theme relating to repentance in brief, and that is the gospel message. Often we define the gospel message as something like, “Believe in Yeshua for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive eternal life.” While this is a true statement, this is not the gospel message we see Yeshua teaching. 

First of all, we ought to remember that John the Baptist was the forerunner of Messiah. He was to bear witness of His coming and he was to prepare the way of the Lord. We see in Luke 1:76-77 that Zechariah, speaking about his son John, says, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give to His people the knowledge of salvation (Yeshua) by the forgiveness of their sins.”

So how did John do this? We see in Matthew 3:2 that he cries out, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” He tells the people to repent of their sins and be baptized. When some unrighteous Pharisees and Sadducees approach him, he, knowing the true state of their hearts, rebukes them and says, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (verse 8). In other words, he was making the statement that if anyone was truly to experience the blessing of God, they must bear the fruits of repentance, that is, produce deeds as evidence of their transformed hearts. 

We see that Yeshua, when He began to preach in Matthew 4:17, also cries out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” When Yeshua sent out His disciples, He told them in Matthew 10:7, “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand,’” which, as we have seen from John’s and Yeshua’s proclamations, indicates a need for repentance. All throughout the book of Acts we see the disciples telling the people to repent (Acts 2:38, 3:19, 8:22, 17:30, 26:20). 

If John the Baptist was supposed to teach the people the way of salvation, and surely he did, then we see that the message of salvation, which is the gospel message (or the good news), starts with repentance. The way of salvation comes through repentance, returning to the God who created you and bearing the fruit which is consistent with such a return. This message is consistent with the message of the apostles and the preceding Scriptures contained in the Old Testament. 

Believing in Yeshua and accepting His atoning work is indeed the only way for salvation to be grasped. But Yeshua did not die so that we may continue to serve our own desires and behave according to the pattern of this decaying world. He died so that we may know Him and become more and more transformed into His image through His Spirit which dwells in us. If that is not our desire, then can we truly call ourselves His disciples? If we do not bear the fruit of repentance, then have we really changed our mind? 

Conclusion

Leading the list in Hebrews 6:1, we find the teaching on repentance. Perhaps this placement is due to the central role of repentance in the believer’s life. The definition of repentance is turning away from sin and unbelief in order to move forward toward God according to the instructions for behavior which He has given us. Without repentance, there can be no salvation, as is clear from Scripture. Sin is itself representative of death, and so when we partake in the resurrection of Yeshua, we experience freedom from sin’s reign in our lives. When we do sin due to our human weakness and failure to walk in the Spirit, God’s desire is for us to return to His ways through Yeshua and to increase in holiness, purity, and love.

Once one has repented by believing in Yeshua and forsaking the ways of the world, a continued attention to thoughts and behaviors is necessary in promoting growth as we are led by the Spirit of God. Even though we are redeemed from sin and the power of the grave, nevertheless we experience weakness. So long as we hold true to our faith in Yeshua, God will accept us when we confess and turn to Him with a contrite heart. If we have brought harm to others, we must make that human relationship right and make every effort to show love for all of God’s creation. 

Never be afraid to fall upon the mercies of God. He is the One who searches and knows our hearts, and His compassion never fails for those who love Him. He waits to pardon and wash you clean from your sin. Don’t hide from Him, but confess, for, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Proverbs 28:13). 

May we never lose sight of our need for repentance and the price that was paid so that we may grow in knowledge of and conformance with His ways.

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