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,
Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands,
and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
REPENTANCE is a cardinal doctrine of Christianity.
We must repent of trusting our “good works” to get us into Heaven, and not just trusting in works before salvation.A “dead work” is something that you try to do to earn your way into Heaven.It is dead because Many professed Christians are hoping their works will get them to Heaven.(I know this because I was one of them.)You need to, even as a Christian, make sure that you’re not expecting your good works to get you in.If you were once trying to get into Heaven without Christ, you were trying to work your way in and you need to repent of this.
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? (Heb 9:14). “Dead works seems to refer here to the ‘works’ that people try to do to earn their way into Heaven. It says that the O.T. sacrifices were a figure, a representation of Christ’s coming sacrifice (Heb 9:9), and they could not make the people perfect. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin” (Heb 10:4).
This does not mean that we should not do good works. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are saved TO DO good works and it was foreordained that we should walk in them. (This is RIGHT AFTER Eph 2:8,9, which tells us that salvation is by faith not works.) See my article Salvation unto Good Works.
Dead works also refers to sin. The unsaved will be judged according to their WORKS: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God … and they were judged every man according to their works” (Rev 20:12,13). Before you were saved, you were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1,5). Sin is not just a dead work; it is a deadly work!!! Before you were saved, your sins were KILLING you!!!
Therefore we must repent of our sins. This is not something you do just at salvation. As you grow in the faith and read your Bible, you will discover other sins in your life not previously known to you. The Holy Ghost will show you things in your life you never knew were sin and maybe you never even you did. When you repented at salvation, you promise God that you will turn away from and abandon ALL your sins. When you realize that something in your life is sin, repent of it and turn from it.
Some early Christians were asking thinking that, since forgiveness of sins was by grace, if they sinned more, they would get more grace, and God would look more holy because of it.
Here is how Paul responded:
Romans Chapter 6
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We need to repent from our dead works and serve the living God. But you can’t get rid of your sins on your own. You need the POWER of God to help you. That POWER is the Holy Ghost. More on how to obtain that POWER to overcome sin and live righteously is found in the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ article “BaptismS.” What does baptism have to do with it? Find out by reading!!
For more on repentance, see my Salvation Series article on Repentance.