Repentance From Dead Works

Hebrews 6:1 says: “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God …”. The writer of Hebrews is addressing the people’s need to move past the basics of the faith and to grow to spiritual maturity. But in doing so, he mentions some of the “basics”: “repentance from dead works” and “faith toward God.” Repentance and faith are basic to salvation (Acts 20:21). You must repent of your sins, and put your faith in Jesus as your Savior. But notice, Hebrews tells us here that it is not only “sins” we are to repent of, but it specifically says, “repentance from DEAD WORKS.”

This expression “dead works” refers to the whole self-righteous idea that our religious works will justify us before God. Surveys indicate that the vast majority of Americans believe that they will go to heaven because their good works outweigh their bad, or because they have kept the Commandments. Most religions are based on the idea of performing certain rituals or works in order to be saved or made right with God. But the Bible specifically tells us that salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9) and “By the works of the Law, no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20). This is why works are “dead” — they can’t lead to eternal life! Thinking that you can justify yourself by performing some religious deeds vastly underestimates the depth of your sin, and the price that must be paid for your salvation.

This is exactly what Hebrews 6:1 is addressing here. This proud, self-reliant attitude is itself sin, and must be repented of in order for us to find salvation by grace through faith.

What are you trusting to make you right with God, and to assure you a place before Him in heaven? If it is any religious deeds you have performed, it falls under the category of “dead works” that the writer condemns in this verse. Before you can “press on to maturity” (which God DOES want you to do) you need to make sure you have the “foundation” set first: repent of your trust in dead works, and put your faith in Jesus’ death on the cross to save you!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog,, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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