Faith: The Real Deal
“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. 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.”
3 Truths with Real Faith:
1. Faith in our hearts is evident in the fruit of our lives: James 2:14
In this conversation with an imaginary person, James says that it is possible to claim to have faith but not actually have true faith – to claim to have faith but not be saved. We are to look for fruit in our lives and the lives of others who claim to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We don’t add works or deeds (fruit) to salvation. They are the natural production of true faith in Christ. Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 7:16-20. Our fruit – not just what we say, but all we say and do – will ultimately reveal what we are. What is on the outside is evidence of what is on the inside.
2. Refusing to help poverty-stricken fellow believers is evidence of not having real faith: James 2:15-17
In this hypothetical, but practical, example of genuine faith, James says that our faith is worthless if we are not even willing to help poverty-stricken fellow believers. The situation he is referring to is one in which believers are in dire straits without the bare minimum of food and clothing to make it through a day. If our faith is worthless, we are not saved. Acts of mercy are by no means part of salvation – we are not saved by what we do. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. But acts of mercy are necessary evidence of salvation. If we have faith in Christ, works of that faith will overflow.
3. Deedless faith is useless faith: James 2:18
The counterargument tries to say that some people are more merciful than others, so the expectations are different from person to person. James says that you cannot separate works from faith as evidence of that faith. Works, deeds, and actions are not optional for those who have faith; they are inevitable. Works of righteousness are the expressions of real faith. If there are not works, then the so-called faith is useless. Useless faith cannot save.
3 Conclusions with Real Faith:
1. Real faith is not mere intellectual assent: James 2:19
We believe in God, the deity of Christ, the presence of heaven and hell, that Christ is the eternal judge, and that Christ alone is able to save. Well, so do the demons. If we believe that just simply knowing about God and believing he is real is enough to save us, we are sorely mistaken. We have to turn from ourselves and our sin, seeking the forgiveness that Christ offers, and trust in Christ alone to save us.
2. Real faith is not simply an emotional response: James 2:19
The faith of the demons is not just intellectual, it is also emotional. They are affected by the truth of God and shudder! Yet, they do not submit to his Lordship. We cannot define our faith and our relationship with Christ merely by the emotions we feel at any given time. We must understand that our faith is rooted in the truth of who Christ is, and our emotions follow.
3. Real faith is involved willful obedience: James 2:19
We show our faith not just by what we think or by what we feel, but by what we do. If our faith consists only of listening to the Word, talking about the Word, or feeling a certain way about the Word, our faith is dead. Faith acts on the Word. Faith in our hearts is evident in the fruit of our lives.