What Good is It?

James 2:14-17 NIV

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

The Lord gave me another illustration this morning. I have a laptop computer on which I write devotionals each day, as the Lord gives them to me. But without the mouse, I could not use the computer. Without the use of my hands (my deeds) the computer would not be much use to me.

Hebrews 11 is the “faith chapter” of the Bible. It speaks of many of the people of Bible times who had faith in God and/or in what God told them or called them to do. And for most of them, what does it say about their faith? They believed God and by faith they did something God asked of them and/or which he approved. Thus, their actions proved the genuineness of their faith.

A lot of people disregard the teachings of James and they only follow the teachings of Paul, they proclaim, but Paul taught the same thing. He said we have to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh to have eternal life with God. He said we will be judged by our deeds (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10).

The works Paul spoke against were works done in the flesh to try to be acceptable to God. They were religious rituals and performances, and things which were external. They were carryovers from the Old Covenant which were no longer required. They were not what God wanted.

But, when the Scriptures teach that it is by grace we are saved, through faith, and this not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast, they continue by saying that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Phil 2:12-13; Tit 2:11-14).

So, we don’t choose the works we will do, hoping God will be pleased with us or thinking that will add to our salvation, for that is of the flesh. But when we believe in Jesus, we now become God’s workmanship, and through him, and in his power and strength, we do the works he has called us to do. So, our faith is not absent of works. They are just the works of God.

James 2:18-19 NIV

“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. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

Imagine if Noah had said, “I believe you, God,” but he didn’t build the ark. Everyone would have died when the flood came. And what if Moses proclaimed to have faith, too, but he never went to speak to Pharaoh, and the children of Israel were never saved from their slavery?

What if Abraham said he believed God but he never went where God told him and he didn’t do anything with his wife to have a child? What if David claimed to believe he could slay Goliath, but then he never faced Goliath at all? And what if Jesus never died for our sins on that cross?

There are many people who claim to have faith in Jesus Christ but their actions say nothing to support that or they say the opposite. Hey, even the demons believe there is one God, and they even shudder, but they are not saved from their sins.

This is kind of like the spouse who says, “I love you,” and then cheats on his/her spouse, lies about it, then tries to cover up the adultery and the lies with even more lies, and then continues to cheat and cover it up. If that person were your spouse, would you believe he/she loved you?

Just like love is not what you feel, but what you do, faith is not what you confess, but what you live. So, if you have faith that Jesus died on that cross to deliver you from your sins, you are not going to keep living in sin while ignoring the one who saved you from your sins.

If we believe in Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, then we will surrender our lives to him, submit to his Lordship over our lives, leave our lives of sin behind us, and follow our Lord in obedience to his commands (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 2:3-6).

James 2:20-24 NIV

“You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 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. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”

Faith without deeds is dead, meaning it is not genuine faith. But not just any deeds will do. Again, we can’t just do whatever we want to do and hope God will be pleased with it. These are the works God prepared in advance that we should walk in them. They are what he instructed us to do.

And what did God instruct us to do? He said we must die to our sins, to forsake them, to repent, and that we are to follow him in obedience. He said we are to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and that we are to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for his return.

He said we must walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and that we are to put off lying, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, greed, adultery, gossip, slander, crude joking, etc. and we are to put on love, kindness, generosity, truth, purity, and faithfulness, etc.

And he said that if we make sin our practice, and if we walk according to the flesh and in darkness, and if we obey sin and not God, that it will end in death, not life eternal with God. But if we walk according to the Spirit, in obedience to our Lord, we do have eternal life with God.

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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