Well ladies and gentlemen, it is Wednesday once again and I am preparing to teach my staff James. We are in chapter 2, learning about the differences between living faith and dead faith. It is hard to believe that we are already on lesson 7 of 16. It is amazing how time seems to fly by as we busily serve the Lord. Here are links to the previous lessons.
- Living faith vs. Dead faith
- Living faith vs. Dead faith part II
- Trials and Temptations; what’s the difference?
- Genuine faith in action
- Two spiritual births; death and life
- Living faith in action
James has shown us real life situations that reveal of our faith is genuine or not. How are you doing with your daily exam? Are you learning to run to God and ask for wisdom, the One who gives liberally without reproach? How do we do it? Run to His Word, the fount of all wisdom!
Today’s lesson deals with more of life’s situations that reveal which faith we have, living or dead. Living faith has a certain attitude toward riches, towards the Law of God, and towards showing partiality (favoritism). Let’s take a look at them. I have already written much on God and money so some of this will be a review of what we have seen before.
I. Attitude toward riches
God has much to teach us about wealth in His Word. First, James is not against rich people because God is not against rich people. God is the One who allows us to be rich and poor. God is not anti-wealth. The Bible is not anti-wealth. Money is just a tool in the hand of God to show us who we really are. Money reveals what our priorities are. Money does not make us good or evil. Money reveals who we really are, not to God, but instead, to us. God already knows who we are. He already knows if our faith is living or dead. He is using money as a mirror to show us if our faith is living or dead. Proverbs 23:4-5, teaches us what our attitude should be about money. We should not even consider striving to get rich. Why not? We should not because as soon as we attain it, wealth develops wings wings and flies away. We end up spending our lives chasing something that so easily flies away. I Timothy 6:8-19, teaches us the following about money. The first thing is that you need is to be content with all that you have. The second thing is not to desire to get rich. Why not? When you desire to get rich, you fall into temptation. This leads you to get ensnared by foolish desires which are also harmful to you leading you to ruin and destruction. When you desire to get rich, you begin to love money and that is the root of all kinds of evil. It can lead you away from the faith and end up causing you to pierce yourself with much grief. What about those who have money and are already rich? If you are rich, do not be conceited, thinking that you made yourself rich. Do not fix your hope on your riches. Fix your hope on the Lord Jesus Christ. Use your riches for the kingdom of heaven. Do good works with your money. Be generous with your riches. Be ready to share. Use your riches to store up treasures in heaven. Living faith has the right attitude toward money. Dead faith is controlled by the desire to get rich because that is what our sin nature, unchecked is like. Dead faith does not change our sin nature.
Finally, the wisest man who ever lived other than Jesus Christ, king Solomon, has some things to teach us about money. In Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, Solomon tells us the following about money.
- Money will never satisfy you.
- Being rich will not satisfy you.
- The richer you are, the more people you will have in your life who want to spend your money for you.
- More riches = More problems
- If you hoard riches, you end up hurting yourself with those riches.
- If you have riches and use them unwisely, you will waste them and when you need them you will not have them.
- You cannot take riches with you. Use them to invest in the kingdom of heaven, storing up treasures there.
- There is no sense in working hard to store up treasures here because they stay here.
- Learn to work hard and be content with what you have.
- Use what you have to invest in the things of God.
- There is nothing wrong with being rich if your attitude about wealth is correct and you use wealth correctly.
As you can see, this is a practical example of something that we deal with daily that God uses to reveal to us if our faith is living or dead. Based on what we have learned here, is your faith living or dead? What is your attitude toward money? Are you controlled by a desire to get rich or do you simply see money as a tool to be used to serve the Lord?
II. Attitude toward the Law of God
This section is super important, especially to the modern church. Most people in the modern church fall into two extreme categories. This is they way of our sin nature. Living faith balances us while our sin nature throws us into extremes. One of the extreme categories is legalism. You have a strict set of rules and regulations that you must follow to please God. These rules and regulations can lead you to God or, they must be kept to prove that your salvation experience was genuine. If you do ______________ every day then either you get to God or you make God happy. This is dead faith in action. If you think and live like this then your faith is dead. The other extreme is that our salvation is based on grace, unmerited favor, and therefore we do not have to do anything. In fact, we can live how ever we want and you cannot tell us any differently because that would be legalism. Dead faith turns salvation and the grace of God into a license to do whatever you want. Salvation and grace become “fire insurance” or a “get out of hell free card”. If grace cannot change you then it is not the grace of God. It is dead faith and useless to you. Living faith produces salvation. Salvation means to be rescued. We generally associate salvation with not having to pay the price for our sins. This is partially true. We have been rescued from the penalty of our sins. Salvation also rescues us from our sin nature. This is something that dead faith does not want to recognize. Living faith, on the other hand, is useful to us because it produces salvation that rescues us from the power of our sin nature.
This is where the Law comes in to play. The Law is not evil, like some seem to treat it to be. The Law reveals our sin nature to us and points us to the only Person who can set us free from that nature, Jesus Christ. We do not throw the Law out when we come to Christ. Jesus did not come to change the Law, or do away with the Law. He came to fulfill the Law. When we have living faith, we have Christ in us and He is able to fulfill the Law. I am not striving to obey the Law. I bow my knee to the Lordship of Christ and He overcomes my sin nature. He fulfills the Law through me. What is your attitude toward the Law of God like? Do you fall into one of the above mentioned extremes? This is a sure sign of dead faith. Living faith causes you to have the correct attitude toward the Law of God. Living faith saves you from yourself, allowing Christ to produce the works of the Law through you. This is exactly what Jesus taught in John 8. When we bow to the Lordship of Christ as disciple, He reveals the truth to us in His Word. The Word is our connection to Him that sets us free from our sin nature’s grip over our lives. Are you a disciple? Are you connected to the power source, the Word of God?
III. Attitude toward showing partiality
Dead faith is extremely partial toward others because favoritism is part of the fruit of our sin nature. We naturally are partial to some people over others. The God who gives living faith to us is not partial. He does not show favoritism. He loves all and extends grace and mercy to all who will receive it. He extends it even when people do not respond, or when they respond in a hostile way toward His actions. God love the Jew and the Gentile equally. God offers salvation through grace to the Jews and Gentiles alike. God condemns the sin of the Jews and Gentiles alike. Dead faith lets you believe that God shows favoritism to you because you are part of a certain organization, nationality, race, or gender. Living faith shows you that God is not partial. He has condemned your sin like everyone else’s sin. He offers His grace to you just like He does to everyone else. You cannot “work out a deal” with God. You have to come to Him on His terms. Once you do, you then begin to view all people the way that God does, without partiality. What about you, do you think God will overlook your sin because you were baptized, joined a certain church, were born to a certain family, born in a certain country, belong to a certain race etc.? Do you feel that you can come to God however you want, through which ever path you choose? There is only one way to God and He will not show favoritism to anyone, not even you. You must approach God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you realize that and have you bowed your knee to this truth?
May the Lord help us all face the facts and examine our faith to see if it is living or dead. If it is dead, I pray that we will swallow our pride and bow our knees to God, accepting His way and the living faith that He has to offer.