You believe that there is one, God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shutter (James 2: 19).
The book of James brings clarity to a question that is still raging in the hearts of human beings today. Is it by faith or by works that we are justified before God? While the Bible makes it abundantly clear that we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8), the book of James reminds us that true faith will undoubtedly be accompanied by works. While James is explaining his reasoning as to why good works are a part of having faith, he makes the statement written above from James 2. He tells us that simply knowing that there is a God is not having faith. He emphasized this by telling us that even the demons, the enemies of God, believe that He exists and fear Him. Yet, they choose to reject and oppose His will. I believe that James’ goal is to get us to sincerely evaluate our faith. If our faith is not actively changing us from the inside out and causing us to look more like Jesus, then we truly need to question the depth of that faith. We may even need to ask if it is true faith at all.
Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23), and that those who love Him will obey His commands (John 14:21). So while we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8), even Jesus Himself is telling us what to look for as evidence of that faith. Are we worshiping Him in Spirit and in truth? Do we delight in learning about and following His commands? Or are we living by different filters? When faced with decisions throughout our day are we marching to the tune of “What would my Father in Heaven think” or are we asking “What would the people around me think?” All we have to do is look at our culture to see that the majority of people, including Christians, are basing their decisions on the latter.
A study that was done by the Barna group in 2003 entitled “A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life”. This study polled over 2000 “Christians”, and it showed that only 4% of Christian adults actually make decisions from a biblical worldview. In a nutshell, that means that the people who claim to know and believe in God, are not making decisions with His will as the driving factor behind those decisions. We know who God is, but that means nothing if that knowledge doesn’t impact the way we live. We are honoring Him with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him (Matthew 15:8). When we live this way, we have become hypocrites. As hypocrites, our faith is not yielding any kind of good works, rather, it is just the opposite. We are pushing people away from God instead of drawing them towards God.
The first place to start when tackling a difficult message like this is always with ourselves. It’s easy to look out at others and point out the hypocrisy in their lives, but I am asking you today to look inward. What areas of your life are not producing the good works of faith? In what areas are you more concerned with fitting in to the culture around you rather than affecting the culture around you by submitting to the power of Christ inside of you? Personally, I know there are some areas that God is bringing to my heart. I know there are some places He is calling me to trust Him more and put my faith into action. Let’s agree with demons that there is a God, but let’s reject their choice to live opposed to His will. If you truly believe that God exists, that He spoke the world into existence, and that He is all knowing and all loving, then how should that change the way you are living?