So after posting this I totally realized that this time I had gone out of order. We just studied James 2:1-13, but I’ve been preparing Bible study on this passage for a few weeks and had James 2:14-26 on my brain.
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
Talk about a passage of scripture that cuts to the core of your faith. I love the book of James for this very reason. You can’t read James, in my opinion, and not realize how much room you have to grow. Reading the book of James is truly like looking into a mirror and seeing a reflection of yourself that isn’t all that flattering. This particular passage actually challenges the faith that saves you. There are 3 verses that really stick out to me in this passage and convict me, even when I feel that I am living out my faith by what I do…
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
First of all, let me say that I absolutely believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is faith alone in Christ alone that saves us. I think we need to evaluate what our faith looks like to determine if it is faith that we actually have. The best way I can explain what true faith looks like is through a cause & effect relationship. Because of “X,” then “Y” happens. Examples: If you cut me, I will bleed. If you throw a ball in the air, it will fall back to the ground. If you have faith in Jesus Christ, then you will show it by how you live your life and by the things that you do. It’s natural.
19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
I don’t think there is a verse in all of scripture that rattles my soul like this one. It is an incredible reminder that it’s not enough to have a head knowledge that God exists, that He’s real, because even the demons do that and they are condemned to hell for all eternity. Your belief in God must have a positive impact on the way you live your life. It is a truth that changes you. I look at it like this: I am scared of heights. This is a fear that has dramatically effected my life. I can’t get 5-6 feet off the ground without trembling. I was on a mission trip in Honduras one time and had to climb 20′ of scaffolding. Getting was one thing, but coming down that scaffolding was frightening. I literally froze. Someone had to give me step-by-step instructions on how to get down. While this negatively effects my life, it is something I believe that has altered my life and the things I do. In a positive way, my faith in God has done the same thing. It changes the way I live my life.
26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
That sums it up nicely. Faith is dead without good works. What is James saying? If there are no good works present in your life then your faith is probably not present either. Now remember, salvation is not based on works. This is the fine line that we flirt with when we read James. Faith in Christ saves you. That is an absolute, but because you have faith you will have good works. Again, it’s cause and effect. If I have faith then I will have good deeds. It doesn’t work the other way around (if I have good deeds then I have faith). Your good deeds my qualify or justify your faith, but they are not the cause or root of it. While they both work together, there is an order to it. Kind of like the old philosophical question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” That’s a question for a totally different blog…
So how do you see your faith being lived out in your own life?