Summary: Authentic faith always bears good fruit!
“Do You Have A Counterfeit Faith?”
Counterfeit faith has four characteristics
1. No compassion
2. No conviction
3. No confidence
4. No courage
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James is talking about people who claim to be Christians, but have lifestyles which do not support their claim. They have counterfeit faith. His questions therefore, are rhetorical and should be answered in the negative. “It is no good” and “It cannot save him”.
He then illustrates the ridiculous nature of having a “said” faith, of just giving lip service. When the phony Christian sees someone in need, they have no compassion. They just mutter a few words, but they ignore the needs.
(1Jn 3:17-18) If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
But is James saying that we are going to get to heaven because we did good works? Didn’t Paul say that we are saved by faith and not by works in the letter to the Ephesians?
(Eph 2:8-9) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9not by works, so that no one can boast.
James is not contradicting Paul. Paul is talking about salvation-getting on the path, James is talking about sanctification-walking down the path.
Paul: The root of our faith is below ground, invisible
James: The fruit of our faith is above ground, visible
(Eph 2:10) For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Works aren’t worth anything if they aren’t preceded by faith!
Faith isn’t worth anything if it isn’t followed by works!
A familiar story tells of an old Scotsman who operated a rowboat to transport passengers. On one oar he had written the word Faith, while the other bore the word Works. The point of the story, of course, is that pulling on either oar alone would simply make one go around and around in circles. Both oars must be used to make any progress at all.
But counterfeit faith can been seen in the lives of some, because they live by the phrase “WHO CARES?”
Instead, try volunteering your time once in a while—visit a shut-in, call someone in the hospital, write a check to help starving children…put yourself in their shoes, wouldn’t you want someone to do that for you?
18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.
20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
James states that the Christian lifestyle is a testimony that we are God’s children. People can see our faith by the way that we act.
Those who have a general faith in some distant force or higher power are far from being children of God. We can see that another aspect of counterfeit faith is having no conviction about who God is.
The devil has enough conviction about who God is that he trembles!
What do the demons believe?
• Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.
• "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"
• "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"
The demons shudder because they know they will spend eternity in hell, but the phony Christian does not seem to care about where they will go when they die. They have no conviction, they think that living for God is only about as important as the color of their socks.
So the person who merely says they fear God and believe He exists is only on par with the demons, because they do the same thing. Neither the demons nor those who just talk about their faith are really born again.