Real Faith Takes Action

This site is about Christian faith, and so I want to take some time to look at a very important passage about real faith.

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[d] works, and I will show you my faith by my[e] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[f] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[g] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. (James 2:14-24)

There is definitely a mantra out there in many Christian circles that “its not by works”. And it is true that salvation, grace and faith are not a matter of “what you do”. Grace is the divine action of God (not our action), faith is heartfelt confidence in what God has spoken and is speaking and salvation consists of everything God does for us in restoring sinful men to be sons of God conformed in nature and likeness to the image of Christ. These things are not built by human effort.

The error comes when people jump from this understanding to an extreme position where “works” is almost a dirty word. People quote the Scripture “our righteousness is as filthy rags” from which they somehow jump in their minds to the thought that ALL sincere responses of obedience and trust to God are irrelevant, unimportant and essentially flawed, dirty things. But this is not what the Bible is teaching.

Real faith leads to obedience to God. Not all attempts to obey God are based on real faith. Such attempts which are devoid of faith are “dead works” and they are NOT pleasing to God, no matter how “religious” they may seem to be. Works which are done for our own honor, glory or pride are not pleasing to God. Works done for selfish reasons do not please God. But REAL FAITH leads to a heartfelt response of obedience, surrender and trust towards the Living God. That obedience might take the form of helping a person in need, trusting that we have a Father in Heaven who will also supply OUR needs. It might take the form of testing our body out when we believe that God’ has sent His Word to heal us physically. It might take the form of speaking out and confessing Christ before our family or peers when we know that this is not likely to cause us to be popular or appreciated by them. It might take the form of giving financially to some aspect of God’s work so the gospel could go forward. It might take the form of leaving a job where we are required to do or support ungodly things, or to open our mouth to share Christ, or to spend time looking to God’s Word instead of looking for worldly pleasures and entertainments. Faith could prompt any of those things, or all of them.

When God speaks, He gives you a gentle conviction about what it is you must do. Yielding to that nudge proves you are operating in faith. Resisting God’s Spirit shows that your heart is as yet unconsecrated to God. God is still giving us opportunities to repent and change, but we would be wise to fear the Lord and depart from evil.

Real faith takes hold of the promise of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to do God’s will. Without receiving Him actively, we will always fail to do the will of God.

In the gospels faith in Christ was an inward heart condition that manifested in certain heartfelt confident words and behavior. The behavior might have been something as simple as touching the hem of Jesus’ garment. But it was the inner heart condition that made the behavior meaningful and effective. One example can be seen in the life of the apostle Peter, who saw Jesus walking on the water outside the boat. He asked Jesus to call Him to come, and when Jesus did so, Peter took a physical step and got out of the boat. His faith was energized by the command of Jesus to do the impossible. While Peter focused on Jesus and His word, He could walk on water. But he still had to get out of the boat and do something with his own muscles. However, none of Peter’s own power could rescue him once he got his mind off Jesus and onto the circumstances. So we see that with faith, both and inner heart condition AND corresponding actions are important.

It is important for us to avoid two different kinds of extremes.

One is works without faith.

The other is “faith” without corresponding actions or works.

True faith works by the love of God, when we surrender to the voice of the Lord and trust Him. He is God, and worthy of our trust. So let’s do it.

 

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About Michael Fackerell

Michael is the founder of Christian faith dot come, a site about Jesus. He came to save the lost. Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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