As a kid, I can recall plenty of times that I heard my mom say, “even the devil believes in Jesus.” She has a lot of quips like that. More than just the “I brought you into the world and I can take you out.” Your mama never told you that? Maybe it’s a southern thing. It would take years for it to actually make sense to me, but James says the same thing in verse 19. Just because we believe in Him, doesn’t mean we are following Him. Now, it’s pretty evident that plenty of people claim to believe in Jesus, but they have no clue about a relationship with Him. Remember, Satan tempts Jesus. So scripture tells us that the enemy believes. But what do the works of Satan tell us about his belief? It sure doesn’t say that by faith he has put his trust in him. There is no amount of works that can save us, except for the work done by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His work is complete. He needs nothing of ours. Faith without works is dead? Yep. It sort of falls into the lines of practice what you preach. When someone says they believe, they are changed. Colossians 3 tells us that we’re new. We aren’t stuck in our old, sinful ways. Sure, we stumble, but sanctification is a lifelong process.
When James writes faith without works is dead, he is reminding us that our lives will be a witness for what we believe. If you believe that Jesus died to save you, are you living a life that reflects that? Jesus told the disciples (Matthew 7:16) that those who believe will be known by their fruits. This allows us to put into better perspective what James is implying. The world would have you believe that faith + works = grace + salvation. However, they can get that mixed up real quick. We should look at it as Faith + Grace = Salvation + Works. We bear good fruit and do good works because of Christ, not to earn anything from Him. God bears the burden for saving us. Jesus took the weight of our sins. Once we repent, turn away from sins, believe, and give our lives to Christ, there's nothing more for us to do for salvation. But while we're here, we're living for the Kingdom. We bear fruit, displayed through our lives and work, which allow the world to witness the glory of God. Faith without works is dead. A stagnant claim of faith gives no glory, is witness to none, and is useless. City on a hill, salt and light....none of this is done with dead and useless faith. To shine brightly before men (and women) is to live a life of good works out of faith in Christ.
Dingers, this WVW was written by our friend Lacy Rabalais. You can find her on Instagram @Lacerab and also find more of her work on laceyrabalais.com