Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism)…
Hebrews 6:1b Amplified
I am fascinated by the harmonious flow between the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of exercising my will. Part of the foundation of my life in Christ is repentance, which is a work of the Spirit. I don’t just sit down and say, “I’ve got five minutes to kill, I think I’ll do a bit of repenting.” But abandoning dead works? That’s my choice. And as I continue to move through this dealing, I see pockets of unbelief blooming around the dead works that I haven’t abandoned.
I did a little digging on dead works and the consensus seems to be that these are works born of the flesh and not of God. The whole world might call them good, but they originate in the old nature, so the fruit is death. Hence, dead works. If you’ll permit me, I’d like to give an example from my own life to better illustrate how this looks in reality.
I grew up in a big family, surrounded by very unique and different personalities. Thanks in part to this daily, intimate exposure to a range of thoughts and ways and voices, I’m a fair hand at working a room. I’m pretty comfortable with just about anyone, and I have a better than average record of making other people comfortable, too. That’s a pretty nice gift, right?
Well, maybe, maybe not. I realized that I look to my past experiences, and especially my ability to read people, as a way to feel safe and secure when I find myself in unpredictable situations. I’m not looking at God and waiting for the Holy Spirit to move as HE wants to move. I’m stepping out in the belief that since I’m using this “gift” to serve God, then it’s okay.
Maybe God doesn’t want me to make people feel comfortable in a certain situation. Maybe He’d like to be Jesus zinging the Syrophoenician woman to ignite her passion and faith. How will I know if I’m holding onto this dead work and my assumptions?
This is just one example from my life. It’s a picture of all the places in my life where I’ve decided that something has value. “That’s a perfectly good hammer, God, and since you’ve put me in a world of nails, you must want me to keep it.” Well, maybe God wants me to abandon the hammer to Him, so that He can redeem it. Or maybe He wants me to abandon it because that hammer has no place in what He wants from me. Either way, the “abandonment of dead works” is non-negotiable. In the light of all I’ve learned about my unbelief, I see that anywhere I’ve staked a claim in the “old” me (and my dead works) is a place that I believe in me and not God.
I want God’s extraordinary and divine gifts, not my pitiful, wretched survival “skills.” I want to be a vessel for the unpredictable and loving and mysterious and kind and merciful GOD that makes my life worth living.
How much more surely shall the blood of Christ … purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the [ever] living God?
Hebrews 9:14 Amplified