A Living Faith

Scripture: James 2:17, ‘In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’

 

Observations: This verse seems to go against one of the core principles of the Reformed tradition – that we are saved by faith alone. In fact, James later writes, ‘a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (v24)’ However, James is not suggesting we don’t need faith, rather that our faith needs to be ‘accompanied by action.’ He says it over and over, ‘I will show you my faith by what I do, (v18)’ ‘Abraham’s faith and his actions were working together, (v22a)’ ‘his faith was made complete by what he did. (v22b)’ James point is that ‘faith by itself …is dead.’ If there are no actions that flow from faith then it is not true faith. Later he says, ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (v26)’ James isn’t suggesting that our good works can ever save us, but neither can a faith that doesn’t result in good works. What good works does James have in mind? He gives us three illustrations. Firstly, clothing and feeding the poor (v16); secondly, obeying God (v21); and thirdly, helping God’s people (v25). According to James our faith works itself out in very practical ways.

 

Application: When we believe in Jesus the Spirit transforms our will so that we desire to become more like Jesus. The fact that we want to help those in need and obey God is evidence that our faith is real, that the Spirit is working in our lives. What evidence do you see that your faith is genuine? Do you see people in need and feel an urge to help them? Do you read God’s word and feel convicted to change? Do you see the fruit of the Spirit in your life i.e. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23)? Is your faith alive?

 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I am saved only through my belief that all my sins are forgiven through the death of Your Son, Jesus. I know that I am only made right with You through faith in Him. But I also know that You have given me the Holy Spirit so that not only will I believe, but that I will also serve You and live a life of faithful obedience. Lord forgive me when I resist Your Spirit and don’t do what You desire. Help me to live out my faith in obedience to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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