If you’re a Christian, you go to church. You wear modest and plain clothing. You don’t swear, and you never watch late night television. Your Bibles are on clear display in your living room, showing to everyone who may pass that they are in constant use and never get stored away. You host prayer group, volunteer at local shelters, and put a “Beam Me Up, Jesus!” bumper sticker on the back of your car. That’s what Christianity is, right? If you believe in God, you must act like a born and bred true American Christian. We all know this.
Except none of what I mentioned above means a darn thing.
Yes, I did just say that. You could be a pastor in an oppressive anti-Christian country, adopt three thousand orphans, and work at a war zone hospital for free for the rest of your life, yet it would be absolutely pointless if your heart wasn’t filled with Jesus. That’s a case of dead faith, my friend.
This kind of blows the mind. What is sold to us is that as long as you believe that God exists and Jesus died for your sins, you’re fine. Eternal get-out-of-jail-free card. But here’s another thing to further stretch your mind (unless I’m the only one finds this surprising and/or shocking, which I sincerely doubt); even demons believe. They tremble when they hear Jesus’s name because they know He has the power to send them back to hell. They fully accept that God is who He claims He is (examples of this can be found in Matthew 8:29, Mark 1:24, and Luke 8:31) and therefore the fact that you believe in God and the sacrifice of the cross means zilch.
James, bless him, addresses this. He says; “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” – James 2:26
But hold up, wait a minute, stop the presses. I dare to even use shut the front door. The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was because we can’t do good works if our souls depended on it…which they do. This message seems contradictory to everything we’ve learned thus far.
What James and I (because we’re totally best buddies) are trying to get across the board is that when you believe something, you need to fulfill it with action. Like a promise. You may promise to clean your room, but if you don’t actually clean your room, your promise no longer carries any weight. In the same way, it is not enough to merely believe God’s promises. It must be accompanied by deeds.
As John Calvin said, “It is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies can never be alone.” To achieve righteousness, it’s not an either/or situation. There’s no deeds OR faith. You need both.
To prove this, we have the story of Rahab. She was a harlot in Jericho, yet she was saved by performing a living faith in God when she risked her life to protect the spies. No matter who it is, if you demonstrate a breathing, fulfilled faith, you will be saved.
“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” – James 2:22