Living Faith vs. Dead Faith

As a staff, we began studying James last week and it is neat to see how clearly God speaks to us through His Word about relevant things to our lives. While doing the overview of James, we discovered why James wrote what he wrote and what we need to learn from this epistle and how we should apply what we learned to our lives.

Based on the evidence that James puts forth, there are two kinds of faiths according to God. People have many different kinds of faith and there is great confusion about whose faith is correct. Some say that all faiths are correct, as long as they help people try to do what is right. Others claim that only their faith is the real one. There is much confusion in the world today. God is not the author of confusion and therefore, he clarifies things for us. There are just two faiths in the world today; living faith that changes lives and dead faith that is useless. As we look into James’ epistle, we discover what living faith looks like and we discover which faith we have, of the two mentioned.

I. James, an example of living faith

In reading the epistle of James, we do not discover a lot of details about James, like we do in a Pauline epistle. But, the little that we do discover reveals much about what living faith looks like.

1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1)

A person who has living faith sees himself as a slave to God and Jesus Christ is his Lord. Living faith bows the knee to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Living faith seeks to serve God with all that he does. Do you consider yourself a servant of God? Do you build your life around serving God? Is Jesus the Lord (Master) of your life? Do you submit to His will moment by moment?

The next thing that we learn about James is how he serve the Lord. We see this in chapter 3.

1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3)

James is a teacher. He serves the Lord by teaching others about living faith. Part of what it means to be is teacher is seen in II Timothy, the study that we just finished.

2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (II Timothy 4:2)

Part of being a teacher means reproving with the Word of God. The word “reprove” means “to show where you are wrong”. James has to use the Word of God to teach that not everyone who has faith has the kind of faith that is pleasing to God. This is tough to do because as people, we generally do not like to have someone show us our mistakes. The next thing that we see is to rebuke or, in common terms, to confront. When people do not want to admit their mistakes, they must be confronted with the Word. If they repent then they are to be exhorted (comforted/encouraged) with the Word of God. This is exactly why James is writing to the believers. How does God expose our faith as being living or dead? Let’s see what James does.

II. Trials reveal the type of faith

Those who have living faith and those who have dead faith both have to face difficult and different trials in this life. Having living faith does not exempt you from trials. Living faith helps you endure trials God’s way.

3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1)
When a person has living faith, he faces trials with the right attitude. While going through a trial his living faith gives him endurance to go through the trial victoriously. He matures in his faith with each trial. He endures. The trial does not destroy him. What about the person who has dead faith, what happens to him when he encounters trials and testings?
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God “; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1)
His dead faith does not allow him to endure trials. The trial actually turns into temptation and then leads to sin. After sinning, he has to face the consequences of his sin. The trials leads to his destruction because his faith was dead, or as it is written in James 2, his dead faith is useless. How do you respond when you face various trials? How did you go through the last trial in your life? What did that trial reveal about your faith? Do you have living or dead faith based on the results of going through your last trial? James may have just reproved you with this teaching. Now you have a choice, are you going to deny the facts and continue on deceiving yourself with your dead faith, or, will you admit what the facts are and apply what you have learned from the Word of God, moving from a hearer of the Word to an effectual doer?
There is so much more to learn from James and I hope that you will continue to study James with us. May we all learn to be hearers and effectual doers of the Word so that we can have living faith that positively impacts us and causes us to impact the world around us in a positive manner.

13 comments on “Living Faith vs. Dead Faith

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