Summary: Faith is a key doctrine in the life of a Christian. The sinner is saved through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), then the believer must walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6); and whatever we do apart from faith is sin (
I See Dead People
Illustration: The Sixth Sense
14What 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.
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? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Faith is a key doctrine in the life of a Christian. The sinner is saved through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), then the believer must walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6); and whatever we do apart from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23).
The word faith is used in this section 11 times and is the central theme of the chapter. James answers the questions
Faith is NOT
1. Intellectual Ascent – “knowledge is power”, but knowledge will never be faith.
Dead people substitute words for deeds, but their walk doesn’t match their talk (14-17).
Example: a person who is naked and hungry…(15-16)
James here uses an exaggeration of a believer, a church family member, who is in dire need.
The response was dead and empty words. “Go, I wish you well” is a standard Hebrew farewell. It’s similar to the “Take care” farewell that we commonly use.
“Keep warm and well fed”, however misleading, really are passive verbs putting the responsibility on someone other than themselves. The translation is “get some clothes and eat your fill.”
It would be like us seeing a teen come into our service with old tattered clothes hanging around in the Annex looking for someone to share a bag of chips with them. We say, “Man, that’s sad. Take care, buddy. I hope that someone comes along and gives you some decent clothes and some food. See ya next week.”
Action is the proper fruit of living faith! Look at the early church in the book of Acts. “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47).
17If 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? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
The story of the Good Samaritan shows this same truth. A priest and a Levite, very religious and knowledgeable of the Word, yet they lacked true faith.
So the question James posses to us in verse 14 should be read, “Can that kind of faith save him? – faith that is never seen in practical works? – NO!
James responds, “I will show you my faith by what I do.”
I see dead people! Dead people who have had an intellectual experience but who have dead faith.
2. Emotional Response – “even the demons believe and shudder” (v19), a belief in and fear of God does not constitute faith in God.
Satan and his demons know who God is. They know what Jesus did on the cross. They know what their future hold. That’s why they shudder (phrisso). It’s an emotional response – fear of the consequences of their actions.
Luke 8:26-33 tells us an occasion when Jesus confronted a man who was possessed by demons.
“When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the most high? I beg you don’t torture me!”