Demonstrate Your Faith
Read James 2:17-18 (ESV)
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
What did James mean when he said that faith without works is dead?
Most of us want to show our faith to others. We try to demonstrate that we are Christians with T-shirts, mugs, memes on social media, and fish symbols on our cars. And none of those are necessarily bad ways to display our faith. But when we go back to the Bible, we see a better way.
In today’s passage, James said that he will show his faith by his works and he challenged those who say they just have faith alone to demonstrate that faith somehow. He argued that faith without works is a dead faith. And a dead faith is a pointless faith. It isn’t capable of accomplishing anything, let alone anything meaningful.
Now, we know that our works do not save us but that doesn’t mean good works aren’t an important part of our faith. In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul reminded us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The good works are not the basis of our salvation. However, the good works are evidence of our salvation. A true, genuine saving faith is walked out in real life with real good works. Paul went on in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We can’t do enough good works to save ourselves, but God does expect us to do good works as a way of living out our faith and demonstrating that a change has been made in our lives.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had something to say about good works as well: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).
The purpose of our good works is not to save ourselves or get glory for ourselves. Our works are meant to glorify our Father. Because He saved us by His grace and gave us everything we need to be able to do great works, the glory belongs to Him anyway!
The fact is, the way we live our lives either points to Christ or away from Him. In his letter to Titus, Paul addressed some disobedient, false teachers. He wrote: They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work (Titus 1:16). Those false teachers said they were believers in Jesus Christ but their works exposed the truth. Theirs was a dead faith and a false faith.
Friends, we don’t want a dead faith. We want a vibrant, living, and active faith based on what is true. God has created good works for us to do! Let’s demonstrate our faith to those around us, not just with memes, decals, and billboards on our clothing, let’s show the world who He is by the things that we do and the things we don’t do. Anyone can wear a Christian T-shirt. But true, saving faith changes lives and produces fruit. Let’s let our lights shine by the way we live our lives. If we don’t, what is the point of our faith?
Lord, I want to point people to You by the way that I live my life. Help me to glorify You with my works. I want to have a faith that is vibrant, living, and active—not dead and worthless. Amen.