Summary: God knows whether or not I am saved based on my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
FALSE FAITH OR FANTASTIC FAITH
In this section of the book of James is where some people think James contradicts the teaching of Paul. Paul teaches that a person is saved by grace through faith plus nothing. Remember, Paul is dealing with the inward man. God knows whether or not I am saved based on my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
James, on the other hand deals with the outward man. Man can only know I am saved by my fruit or works. A faith that is a saving faith is always attended by good works. Faith is like fat grams; you can’t see neither one but you can see the results of both.
James deals with three types of faith in this section. Only one of which is true saving faith. He talks first of all about DEAD FAITH, 14-17. Even in the early church there were those who claimed to have saving faith but really did not possess it. People with dead faith substitute words for deeds. They know the right words and can even quote verses of Scripture, but their walk does not measure up to their talk. Any declaration of faith that does not result in a changed life and good works is a false declaration. That kind of faith is a dead faith. I am afraid that many church members have said the right words at the altar with their lips but not their heart. When you see boy friend and girl friend living together and claim Jesus as Savior never got what I got when I went to the altar. When homosexuals go to altar and say the words but life style doesn’t change it is dead faith. When you have saving faith your life changes. Saving faith doesn’t gossip. Saving faith isn’t quick to erupt when things go wrong. Saving faith doesn’t back bite. It is dead faith and James says it stands alone. To come to the end of life with only dead faith is to hear the words depart from me, I never knew you.
James deals with yet another faith in verses 18-19. We will call it DEMONIC FAITH. In recent years the church has rediscovered the reality and activities of demons. Once I preached about the activities of demons and a lady got up and left. I thought I must have been talking about her next of kin. If you don’t believe that demons exist then you are a good target for the devil.
When Jesus was ministering on earth, He often cast out demons; and He gave that power to His disciples. Paul often confronted demonic forces in his ministry. It is no different today. A church doing anything for God can expect opposition from demonic forces.
Has it ever occurred to you that demons have faith? What do they believe? For one thing, they believe in the existence of God. They are neither atheists or agnostics. They also believe in the deity of Jesus. You doubt that? Turn to Mark 1:24. They also believe in a place of punishment. Maybe you doubt that; turn to Luke 8:31. They also recognize Jesus as the judge. So you believe there is one God. Good! The demons believe that to and go one step farther, they tremble because of knowing that. But it is not a saving experience to believe and tremble. True saving faith involves something more. Something that can be seen and recognized; a changed life. Being a Christian involves trusting Jesus and living for Jesus. You receive the life and reveal the life. A faith without good works is not a saving faith.
James has introduced us to two kinds of faith. Neither can save the sinner. We must go beyond the faith of demons.
James closes this section by describing the only kind of faith that can save the sinner, DYNAMIC FAITH, 20-26.
There was never a time in my life that I did not believe there was a God. Years ago, my life would not have shown I believed in God. It was at the age of 31 that I took God for His Word. That Jesus is the Son of God. He was born of a virgin. He did die for my sins. He did arise from the tomb and now seated at the right hand of God. When I trusted Him as my Savior, it resulted in a changed life. The things I use to do, I no longer do. The things I use to like, I no longer like. You say you have saving faith, James says show me and the world. Are you ready to leave the world with the faith you have? Will you be ashamed when He returns for you? Dead faith believes there is a God; head knowledge. Demonic faith believes there is a God with head and emotions. Dynamic faith believes with the heart and from that faith lives the life that reveals salvation. You and I fit into one of these categories. Which one?