Speaking to the Soul – September 1

Faith without good deeds

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? James 2:19-20

James was clearly sick and tired of people who thought that having faith was all that mattered. Here he launches a full-scale attack on that point of view by pointing out that even the demons believe in God. Their belief is so strong it makes them terrified.

We also see this illustrated by Jesus. Soon after his ministry began, he went to the synagogue in Capernaum. A man with an evil spirit cried out: “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are- the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24). Mere belief in God is absolutely no proof at all that a person is a follower of Christ. They might be the exact opposite.

James believed that faith was crucial. But if didn’t lead to action, it was completely useless. He pointed to two very contrasting characters to make his point. Firstly, he reminded his readers of Abraham (vv20-24), the father of faith and of the Jewish nation. Abraham was called “God’s friend” and was clearly a man of faith. The proof of this was his willingness to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. Mercifully, he didn’t have to make that awful sacrifice, but he needed to be willing – and he was.

Secondly, James referred to Rahab (v25). She was a prostitute, and couldn’t have been more different to Abraham. But they had one thing in common. They had faith, on which they acted. In Rahab’s case, she bravely hid the Israelite men who were sent to spy out the promised land. James didn’t reflect on her profession or the way in which she deliberately misled the messengers of the King of Jericho who were pursuing the spies. She had faith, and she acted; that’s what mattered.

Never underestimate the importance of faith. It is absolutely vital. But it isn’t worth having unless it leads to action. As we go into today, it is a good opportunity to ask: What will my faith in Christ lead me to do today?

Over the last week, what have you done as a result of your faith?

Lord God, please help me to turn my faith into loving action today. Amen