“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17-20).
Faith and Works
At first glance, one my think that James is advocating a works and deeds religion. This is an Old Testament way of thinking done away with at the cross. It purports the need to do something and uses rites, rituals and ceremonies as its foundation for religion.
But this isn’t what James is talking about at all. What he is saying is that works are a by-product of faith. If someone has faith in God and truly believes that it will be evident by the works and deeds produced by that faith.
Simply put, we do things naturally for those we love and respect. The husband open doors, cleans the dishes or buys presents for his wife not because he has to but because he wants to. His love for his spouse produces these signs of love, faith and dedication. It is the same when we truly believe and have faith in God. Certain works and deeds will flow naturally from us.
James says something very interesting. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” What does that mean?
Belief comes before faith. We progress from belief to the deeper more meaningful and enriching faith in God. But many people confuse the two for each other. Here James points out that even the devils believe in Christ and are afraid of Him. But they do not have faith in Christ nor do they fear Him. This is an “examine yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5) moment to see where our status is with God. Is it simple belief that He exist or is it total faith in Him, who He is and what He can do?
James also makes an observation that, “faith without works is dead”. Faith cannot be contained. It must be allowed to flow out. If there is no expression of faith it will die. What are some expressions of faith? There are many.
- Going to Church
- Reading our Bible
- Loving God and our neighbor outwardly
- The words we speak and the attitude we carry around
Those who have faith in God are Holy Ghost filled. It is the spirit that has communicated this need and fulfilment. The Holy Ghost within inspires and motivates the person forward by faith into Christ. The Holy Ghost is Christ, Jesus Christ inside of us. The spirit cannot be contained.
We show our faith and the level of faith we have by the “works” or actions we take. It is the natural outpouring of our faith and the Holy Ghost within.
Faith if it hath not works is dead