The Apostle James has a short discussion about the connection between faith and works, and he stated that faith without works is dead. Have you ever wondered why he would say that?
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
God has taught me that there’s a great deal of process going on in the way the spiritual works. For instance, love is not only an emotion but is a state of being, of who you are. It is because of God’s love in you that you perform acts of love. Similarly, it’s because of the faith in you that you perform acts of faith, which are called works.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Faith is a gift from God. It’s not something we can work up by ourselves. Scripture says that without faith it’s impossible to please Him. Some might argue that those that aren’t God’s have faith or firm belief in something, and that’s certainly true. But it’s not Godly faith, which is connected to and stems from love. Like salvation, there’s nothing we can do to earn it. God blesses us with it because without that gift, it’s impossible for God to have a spiritual love relationship with us that begins in this life and lasts for eternity.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
So, again, why is faith without works dead? James answers that one well. Alive, Godly faith naturally produces works evidencing Godly character. James says he will show us his faith by his works, and that’s a model for us to follow.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
So, is your faith spiritually alive or spiritually dead? Matthew 25 in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats makes God’s perspective on this very clear. The Goats thought they were God’s because they did works and yet were told God never knew them. May God open your spiritual understanding so you can do the right spiritual things for the right spiritual reasons.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Father God, please help me to see things through Your eyes and perspective. Thanks for opening my understanding of Your work and how You are and see things. Thanks for continuing to grow me in grace and knowledge. Please let me and others see and experience You abiding in me by my spiritual works. Please help me to hear Your voice and be led by You to work where You work. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Things to Think, Pray and Journal About
1. Do you understand why the goats were not accepted by God and the sheep were?
2. How can your faith be evidenced by your works?
3. How does Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son demonstrate his faith?
4. The sheep and the goats both performed works. What was the difference?
5. In James 1:27, James defined pure and undefiled religion. What is the faith/works connection there?
copyright 2014, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved