James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
This week it was reported that a well trained and qualified Swiss doctor was forcibly taken to a psych ward by the police. They said he needed to be examined for insanity because he criticized the Wuhan virus protocols. He did not follow the norms and saw that what was being said and done did not make good medical sense. He is right, but the officials had a plan and he needed to be silenced.
God has a plan as well. His plan is absolutely right. He is more right than that doctor. King Agrippa accused the apostle Paul of being beside himself. He stated that much learning had made him mad. A few years back I was witnessing to a Catholic man and he told me that his priest had told him not to read the Bible because it would make him crazy.
True faith does not make a person crazy. True faith does make a person think and behave different than the majority. The problem for most is that they believe the majority is right. Those who are truly saved know that God is right all the time. He is greater than all of mankind. True saints do not make decisions based on human numbers, or even on circumstances. True saints take the Word of God, which is truth, and they humbly believe and follow that Word by faith.
James was being directed to write about the importance of true faith. He stated that true faith will produce good fruit. There will be good evidence flowing from true faith. As we look at our world we can see that our officials have a corrupt basis for their faith and it produces bad fruit.
As in James’ day, there are false religions today that claim to believe in God, but their teaching and their walk does not add up to what the Bible declares. Again, too many people are gullible and deceived into thinking that because what they see feels good to them, it must be right.
New Evangelicalism, as a term, was not around in James’ day. However, the philosophy that forms the basis of New Evangelicalism was around. Thus New Evangelicalism is not new. The devil is not capable of coming up with anything new. He has the same lies and just uses his subtilty to twist things to make lost people assume wrong is right. He is even able to deceive those who are saved, but not faithful in His Word nor in a good church.
James was directed by God to remind us again that true faith will produce evidence that is evidenced from the Word of God. It is not a blind faith. It is as Paul wrote in Hebrews 11, it has substance.
In verse 19 James continued to expose the shallow nature of the faith of some. He commended them for believing in one God. That is important. However, James also reminded these people that the devils also believe and tremble. It certainly is not reassuring to know that the faith a person has is the same faith that the devil has.
In verse 20 James addressed this issue further. Those who have this faulty faith are vain. Keep in mind that James is addressing the brethren. He is showing the brethren that there are individuals within that group who profess to be brethren but they are not. He declares them to be vain. The word “vain” means empty. The Bible is clear that true faith will be identifiable with the Word of God. No Christian is without sin. However, there is a change that takes place at salvation and that change will be evidenced and it will be a growing faith which will produce further changes.
James again reminded the reader that faith without works is dead. In verse 21 he drew from a familiar Old Testament example. He is speaking to Jews and they would know the account of Abraham. God is directing James in his writing. James wrote the exact words that God wanted him to write.
In Genesis 15:6 we read:
Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
God knew the heart of Abraham. He was teaching him many things. Abraham was learning to trust God. There were some areas that needed more work than others. However, there was growth taking place.
In James 2, God directed James to refer to the time in Abraham’s life where God told him to take his only son and offer him as a sacrifice to God. He was to lay Isaac’s living body on wood on an altar and offer him as a sacrifice to God. He would need to kill his son to do so. At the right moment God stopped Abraham and showed him a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. Isaac was released and that ram took the place of Isaac.
That was a powerful event in Abraham and Isaac’s lives. You can read more about that in Genesis 22. Verse 12 is an interesting verse in that passage.
Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
God had already accepted Abraham’s faith in Him in Genesis 15:6. Abraham was further tested in his life. Abraham needed to prove his faith was real. God knew his heart. Yet God used the account in Genesis 22 to help Abraham and his son and his servants. Abraham did not just talk a good talk. He walked a good walk. He was willing to obey God in something that did not make sense. However, He trusted God to be right and he believed that somehow he and Isaac would return to his servants. He did not know how that would happen. In chapter 22:8 we see something of Abraham’s faith expressed.
Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
To me it is interesting that Abraham believed that God would provide himself a lamb. God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ would be that ultimate Lamb that would give His life a ransom for many. He stepped in the way of wicked and lost mankind and provided the necessary substitute to satisfy the righteous demands of God.
James tells us that Abraham was justified by works. His faith was in God. His faith was real. His faith is what saved him. His obedience after believing proved his faith. James made reference to Abraham’s belief in God. He also pointed out that his faith, as we noted from chapter 15:6, was imputed unto him for righteousness. He was called a friend of God because he believed God and acted on that belief. There was irrefutable evidence that Abraham believed in God. He was willing to take his only son and bind him and put him on that altar and he had his knife drawn and was very close to piercing and killing his only son with that knife. He would then have set fire to his son. However, God had a different plan that Abraham did not know until just the right time. God was not teaching the validity of human sacrifices. He was helping Abraham and us to see what real faith looks like. God provides that which seems impossible for those who trust in Him.
Abraham would never have learned that if he would have refused to offer up his only son, Isaac. We can look at that and we can see what true faith looks like. It is identifiable. It can be examined and it can be seen as being real.
The same is true today. Those who have true faith will give evidence of that faith. The evidence will be Biblical evidence, not fictitious stories. It will be supported with the facts of the Bible.
James is directed to write this epistle to help us to know what true faith is. God is not willing that any should perish. He wants all to be saved. True faith is necessary to be saved. There will be many who will find themselves at the great white throne judgment because they had deceived themselves into believing they would be at the judgment seat of Christ. There are many false teachers that are deceiving many into believing that vain faith is valid faith.
The wise person will take God’s Word as his or her authority, and not the deception of false teachers. Where are you at on this today? Does your faith have Biblical substance to it? Do you insist that your faith is valid even though it is not supported by the Bible? Keep in mind, the devils also believe and they tremble. Take God’s Word as your authority and believe what He says. If you are truly saved the evidence will be there for other true Christians to see. Some of the lost will be amazed at what they see happening in your life. Others will despise what they see happening to you. Don’t be discouraged by that. Press on for God and pray for those who persecute you. Live for God and trust Him to be glorified as you follow Him according to His Word.