Faith in Daily Living Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Now, let’s stop and take a brief look at our passage in James 2.The epistle of James deals with the moral code of Christianity, not doctrine. He really bears down on the practical, but he can’t get away from the subject of faith. James was evidentially a very practical individual. Tradition says that he was given the name “Old Camel Knees” because he spent so much time in prayer.
James wrote a great deal about faith and works. He agreed with Paul that we are saved by faith alone. He would say, “We are justified (or declared righteous) before God by faith, but we are justified before men by works.” You see, God can see our faith, but men can only see our works.James makes the point very clear that true faith does not exist unless it is accompanied by works. That’s the point in verses 14, 17, 18, 21, and 26. In verse 14, he says that the faith that saves you will produce works, works of faith.
The story is told that the devil had a meeting with his demons to decide how to persuade men that God is non-existent. Since they themselves believed in His existence, they wondered just how to do it. One demon suggested they tell people Jesus Christ never really existed and that men should not believe such fiction. Another demon suggested that they persuade men that death ends it all and there is no reason to worry about life after death. Finally, the most intelligent demon suggested that they tell everyone that there is a God, that there is Jesus Christ, and that believing in Him saves, but all you have to do is profess faith in Christ and then go on living in sin as you used to. They decided to use this tactic and it’s the tactic the devil uses even today.
There are no good works coming from a person with professing faith. These people may claim to be saved, but there’s a problem, because saving faith which leads one to be a Christian will always lead to good works. Therefore, their salvation may not be real.
In verse 17, James writes, “Faith, if it has not works is dead.” Why? Because living faith, saving faith produces works.
In verse 18, the spotlight is not works as such, but instead, it’s on works as the evidence of faith. Self-righteous expressions may seem to be religious, but actions are what people hear.
In verse 21, the subject is Abraham again. Paul says in Romans 4:3 that Abraham was justified by faith, and that’s also what it says in Genesis 15:6 and 22:1-14. But, someone may ask, “What about when he offered his son, Isaac; wasn’t that works.” But, did he really offer his son Isaac? No, he didn’t. Abraham never actually offered Isaac, because God provided a substitute, but he would have done it if God Hadn’t stopped him. So, it must have been that he was justified by faith, and not works. Verse 26 says that faith without works is like a dead body. James said that, Paul said that, and I believe both of them, because they are giving us God’s word for it.
The last thing I want to do is make a practical application of faith in our daily lives.
We all want to please God. We can say nice things to people, we can encourage them when they are down and we can let them know that God loves them. But, to please God, we must get beyond words and take action. Good intentions will not please God, unless they come from faith and lead us to do good deeds. Did you know, it says in God’s Word, that without faith it’s impossible to please God? I’m going to tell you a true story to illustrate one of the things that faith brings to our lives.
A safari hunter was startled by the loud screeching of a bird. When he caught sight of the bird, it was darting back and forth around its nest. He was puzzled by all the racket until he noticed a huge snake moving up the tree. The hunter could have easily aided the bird with one shot from his gun, but he was captivated by the drama before him. As the snake slithered up the tree, the bird became silent and flew from the nest. It now seemed as though the snake would dine without resistance. But before the reptile could reach the nest, the mother bird returned with a leaf in her beak. She carefully placed the leaf over her babies then flew to another tree. The snake raised his head to strike, but then hesitated. It froze as if it had met an enemy. Slowly it recoiled from the nest and wound its way down the tree. The puzzled hunter related the event to native Africans when he returned to the camp. They laughed with gusto as they explained this unlikely victory of the bird. The leaf that the mother bird used to cover her nest was poisonous to the snake. What looked like nothing more than a leaf was, in fact, a life-saving shield. Our faith may at times feel as flimsy as a leaf, but God’s Word reminds us that it is a shield against the attacks of our serpentine enemy, the Devil. Our faith is a shield to protect us from the tricks of Satan and the dangers we face in daily life.
Someone may want to know, “Just how do we demonstrate our faith in our daily lives.” I would answer this way. It depends on your condition and circumstances. Some of us have better health and greater resources than others, and we can do many things for the kingdom of God. But all of us can pray and witness. Pray for others, and if you can, pray with them. Say to someone during the day, “Jesus loves you.” There are many things we can do for the Lord every day. And, by the way, you can also show your faith by coming to Bible Studies and Church Services.
Today, you can find a lot of people who don’t understand faith, yet everyone has faith in something. The farmer, who plants a seed in the ground, has faith that it will grow into something useful. He believes that if he plants a corn seed, he’ll get corn, and if he plants a tomato seed he will get tomatoes.
Have you ever flown on an airplane? Now, it takes a lot of faith to believe all that steel is going to take you hundreds of miles through the air and deliver you safely at your destination.
In our spiritual lives, faith is just the same. Faith is writing a check for your tithes. It’s telling someone Jesus loves him or her. It’s trusting that what the Bible says is true. It’s praying and leaving your burden at the altar.
I want to end by summarizing the three main points of our lesson.
1. First, it says in Hebrews, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). This verse infers that all those who have not received God’s salvation through faith in the Son of God, cannot please God. It’s an impossibility. So, how can a person get faith? God’s Word has the answer: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” You could say it like this, “Faith comes from hearing the word of God.” It’s faith that the Holy Spirit uses to work the miracle of salvation in the heart of a sinner and make him or her, a child of God. Our first point was; faith is all important—we must have faith before we can please God.
2. The second point is found in the 17th verse of James 2. There it says, “In the same way, faith that is alone—that does nothing—is dead.” That kind of faith is dead. Why? Because living faith, saving faith, produces works. Our second point is; true faith must be accompanied by works.
3. The third point to our lesson is a challenge to all of us. Mix the energy of your life with what you say you believe, and bring glory to God. If you’re saved, act like it. Bring honor and glory to God by what you say and do.
Do you remember our definition of faith? Faith is an outward action that demonstrates an inner belief. Let’s live our lives so that others can see Jesus in us. That’s another thing that pleases God. I believe we all want to do that!