James 2:17 (ESV) -- So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Many people in our world today claim to be people of faith. In the American South, it is common to hear most people call themselves a Christian. They would claim to place faith in Jesus. But the teaching of Scripture isn’t just about believing the right things. Faith is more than agreeing with tenets or precepts taught in the Bible.
Our passage today shatters the illusion that believing true things qualifies as saving faith. James writes to Christians, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
This is a challenging text. Faith by itself is in trouble. What does he mean? The kind of person who claims to have faith because they agree with theological points, but there’s nothing else in their lives that accommodate that faith, don’t really have faith. It’s dead. There’s no fruit to show the faith is real. They are empty words.
Works do not save us. Being busy for God or helping others for Jesus doesn’t forgive our sins. However, the evidence that we’ve truly been saved is the fruit from our lives. Faith and works go hand-in-hand.
The two ditches we must avoid falling into are polar opposites to one another. The first ditch is thinking that if I just believe the right things, I’m saved. The second ditch is thinking that if I just do enough good works, then I’m saved. Both are wrong. We are saved by grace through faith, but that faith is never without evidence (good works).
Does your life reflect saving faith? What works or evidences would you point to that demonstrate your faith in Jesus? James warns us of living with a dead faith. May God grant faith to us and may the demonstration of that faith pour out in lives of obedience and servanthood.
Photo Credit: IMB
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do you think James had to address this issue with Christians?
- What are some examples of how the two ditches look in people’s lives today?
- How can you avoid a dead faith? What are ways we can regularly evaluate our lives accurately?
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