"Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:17
We have all read this very familiar passage. This is the passage of scripture which various sects of Christianity, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, take out of context, misconstrue, and misinterpret. However, salvation by works is not what this passage is implying. The main point of this passage is that a faith that does not produce good works, is not a truly saving faith. When Christ calls us unto Himself, and the Holy Spirit breathes the breath of life into us, He creates in us a desire to serve Him. When someone claims to have faith, but does not live for Christ, this person is not truly saved. James 2:15-16 describes a person who is hungry and in need of clothing. What good is it if you tell this person to get food and clothing if you do not provide the means for it? You cannot tell a person to eat if you do not provide them with food. "Dead" faith is not a faith that had previously been alive. Dead faith is faith that never had life.
|Sacrifice of Issac, Rembrandt, 1635|
Good works do not provide faith, but are merely proof of faith (James 2:18-26). Your faith is made visible by your works. You cannot demonstrate true faith by simply believing in God, for even the demons believe in God (James 2:19). You show true faith by doing good works. James provides us with another example. Abraham showed his faith by his godly life (James 2:21-23). He showed his faith in God by leaving the land of his ancestors and blindly following God's call to an unknown land. Furthermore, he demonstrated his faith by offering up his only son Issac, in a symbolic act of obedience to God, as a blood sacrifice. God honored his faith and works by sparring the life of Issac, and ultimately making Abraham the father of Israel. Let us strive to honor God and demonstrate our faith by doing good works, not by necessity or compulsion, but out of true love and obedience to Him.