Depart From Me
Karen E. Pansler
A faith that doesn't forsake sin
and produce good works isn't a living true faith at all.
A faith that doesn't forsake sin is a dead false faith.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Imagine the following conversation between God and John Doe as he tries to negotiate his way into heaven.
John, to be admitted into heaven, you must be saved. The conditions of salvation are repentance and righteous living. These are non-negotiable. One who repents flees sin. He turns his back on sin. He runs from Satan and sin and pursues Christ and holiness.
Well, Lord, I profess to be a Christian. I believe in God. John 3:16 proclaims, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
However, John, your ungodly conduct is evidence that you never really believed in me. As Titus 1:16 explains, “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” John, remember the demons believe in God, and yet they remain demons.
But, Lord, Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
On the other hand, John, James 2:17 teaches, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” As a law student, you learned in Contracts class that you must look to the four corners of the contract. In other words, you must read every phrase in the context of the entire contract. So it is with the Bible. You just can’t pick and chose Scriptures at whim. You must look at the Bible in its entirety. Remember, even Satan quoted Scripture when tempting Me in the wilderness. John, you willfully ignored Scriptures dealing with repentance and holy living.
But, Lord, all humans are sinners. We are born with a sinful nature. We can’t help it. I regretted every sin I did. I felt sorry afterwards. In fact, I even felt guilty while I was planning to sin. I even felt guilty while I was sinning.
John, you regretted your sins out of fear of the consequences, not because you loved Me and wronged Me. However, you are right. Man cannot live righteously on his own. That is why I sent the Holy Spirit to enable those who are born again to obey My Word. As Galatians 5:16 instructs, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” And Romans 8:8 and 9 teach: “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of us.” John, you never had the Spirit of Christ. I never knew you. Depart from me.
Lord, Lord, I admit I slept with many women, but I read my Bible. Yes, I lied often. I admit I got drunk occasionally, but I went to church frequently. I confess I cheated on my Contracts exam, but I went to a Christian law school.
John, you hoped these cold, dead works would cloak your sins. Yes, you may have deceived many people, but you never knew Me nor loved Me. You never lived a righteous life. I never knew you. Depart from Me.
But, Lord, Lord, I discussed the Bible with other professing Christians. I did many wonderful works for you.
Nonetheless, John, mere profession and dead works cannot substitute for repentance and forsaking of sins. Repentance will result in righteous living. Righteous living is a result of repentance. Since you refused to depart from your sin, you must depart from Me.
Friend, the Bible stresses salvation is conditioned by repentance and righteous living, or good works. These are non-negotiable. In the apostolic age, Paul met many people who made works everything and neglected faith; James met others who made faith everything and neglected good works. Yet, God has joined repentance, faith, and good works together. They are inseparable.
A saving faith purifies the heart. A pure heart results in holiness and godly actions. Works are necessary for a Christian as evidence that the faith is genuine. A faith that doesn't forsake sin and produce good works isn't a living true faith at all. A faith that doesn't forsake sin is a dead false faith.
Let us pray:
Lord, encourage us to examine our hearts and lives to make sure we have truly repented, and by the power of the Holy Spirit are living righteously according to Your Word.