Mar 31 8:35 AM
Mar 31 8:35 AM
Mar 31 8:35 AM
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
James 2:14, 17
One of the haunting, probing deep questions of Scripture, based on one statement Jesus made that raises questions in people, is this, when people say they have faith in Jesus Christ, do they really have true faith? Or is it false faith? In other words, do they believe in Jesus fully with a genuine, authentic faith that puts complete trust in Jesus Christ's payment of sin, and that they've received eternal life by authentic faith? Or, was it a phony faith, where you kind of just accept Jesus intellectually or some level, but no more? And I say that because Jesus said, "Not everybody who says 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom." So my question is this, how do you know when you have true faith? How do you distinguish true faith from false faith? How do you know the difference? I want to give you the answer in James 2:14 and 17.
James 2:14-26 is the classic passage on how faith works, and it gives us the answer to this question. James 2:14 says, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" In other words, if someone has no good works and no behavioral change as a result of the faith he claims to have, can such faith save him? Now, that seems like an open-ended question, except whenever there is a question in the Greek, there are two types of words used for questions. They actually do not have a question mark in Greek. Instead, they have two words, which are untranslated, but indicate questions. One of these words indicates a question that demands "Yes" as an answer. And the other is a question that demands "No" as an answer. When James says, "If a man says he has faith but has no good deeds, can such faith save him?" It's not an open ended question, but is a question that demands a "No" answer. Therefore, the answer is, No, it can't. The man says he has faith but doesn't have deeds, can that faith save them? No, it can't.
And then James 2:17 says this, "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." How do you know if your faith is real? Your faith is real when you see good works and good deeds flowing from your life, a changed life flowing from a faith in Jesus Christ. The rest of the scripture I quoted earlier, what Jesus said in Matthew 7, illustrates this. Jesus said, "Not everybody who says, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom, but he who does the will of my Father." When you have true faith, it changes your life. It doesn't just mean you do good things. Pre-Christians, people who are not yet Christians, can still do good things. But when you have faith, you have a transformed life that it is changed by good works. And I say that because there are a lot of people that say, "Yep, yeah, my children are Christians." I say, "That's really cool, that's great. Where do they go to church?" And these parents say, "Oh, they don't go anywhere. They've accepted Jesus as their Savior, but they're not going to church anywhere, nope. And they really don't want to, either. But it doesn't matter, because all you have to do is have faith."
That is a massive divorce between faith and good works. A lot of people will say, "Yeah, I'm a Christian, but you know what? I'm committing adultery," or, "I'm a Christian and I steal. But you know, that doesn't matter, because it's all covered by the grace of God." Well, I have news for you. If you have that kind of faith, you have the kind that does not have good works. I'm not going to judge you, but I'm gonna say this: I'm very concerned about if you really have real faith. Are you sure you have real faith? Has your faith led to a transformed life and not just some nice things coming out of it? I'm talking about a changed life. And the greatest sign of a changed life is having Jesus Christ at the center of it. You want to give to him, to serve Him, to go to church, to study the Bible, to worship. You want to do the kinds of things that draw you closer to God, and to love God. You love your neighbor as yourself. You want to do good things for people around you to show the love of Jesus Christ to them. Do you have true faith? Here's the test to see whether it's true or not: Do you have good works that follow?
Let's pray. Father, I pray that if there's anybody who's thinking that they have faith, and this has really spoken to them, I pray that they will check their spirit and make sure they have true faith in you. I pray that they have acknowledged that they're sinful, that you're holy, and that only Jesus Christ can bridge the gap. I pray that they would ask you for total forgiveness and asked you to change their life. If that's you, do that. For the rest of us, let's make sure that we're still producing good fruit so that we can validate our faith as authentic. I ask all of this in Jesus' name, amen.