Faith Without Works

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As part of one of my courses, I was asked to consider what examples there were in Scripture of people who knew something and either did or did not act upon that knowledge. I decided to share my response on here as well.

The first passage that came to my mind in reading the prompt was James 2:14-17. James asks us, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food. . .but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:15, 16b, 17, New King James Version). Later in his letter, he goes on to say that “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (4:17).

And here is where Christians are asked to take the extra step. We are not supposed to simply go through our lives trying to keep from doing bad things, like speaking unkindly or acting in anger. If life were a battle, then we would always be on the defensive side of it, perhaps keeping the castle in our possession, but never really getting out from behind the walls to drive the enemy away. God wants us to advance His kingdom, and sometimes that involves moving into the pro-active side of the battle. Doing right is not just about avoiding wrong – it is also about seeking to do right.

God does not want us to just hear the Word – He wants us to do it. He does not want us to just notice needs, but to do what we can to meet those needs. He wants us to demonstrate His love, not just “in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? . . . Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:16, 19). If we call ourselves children of God, then we need to live lives worthy of His children. Bearing good fruit does not mean just knowing how to bear good fruit – it means actually bearing the good fruit. And if we do not, then we are no better off than a dead tree. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

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