Saturday, August 26, 2023
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, "Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well" — but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Modern evangelicalism has a crisis on its hands. Millions of people professing to follow Jesus live in ways that deny the Lord Jesus each day and reject what He defined as holy living — righteous character, gracious compassion, and faithful justice. Much of this goes back to the modern definition of faith propagated by many who preach and teach. Faith, for these peddlers of "cheap grace,"  is limited to what we think in our heads. Faith doesn't involve any standard of behavior, obedience to Jesus or living to bless others in acts of kindness and care. These distorters of grace ignore the truth that grace saves us FROM our sins  AND equips and empowers us FOR good works that God created us in Christ to do.  Jesus made clear that while we are saved by grace, He will hold us to His standards of spirituality based on our obedience to what He taught us to see if our faith is genuine. 
We shouldn't be surprised when James, the half-brother of Jesus,  reminds us that faith must produce good deeds, or it is dead, useless, and not genuine! Throughout his short epistle, he repeatedly wrote about how to identify genuine, authentic, Christ-like spirituality. I encourage you to find some quiet time this week and dedicate an hour to reading Jesus' Sermon on the Mount  and the epistle  of James. Notice how they parallel each other in many ways, emphasize authentic spirituality, and define faith as believing in our hearts and living those convictions in our daily lives.
Jesus summed it up this way:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' " 
James succinctly stated it in our verses today this way:
So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
. . .You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Precious God and almighty Father, thank you for saving me by Your grace in response to my faith in Jesus. I realize that my faith is more than just believing facts about Jesus and involves me living for Jesus and in obedience to His words and following His example. I confess, dear Father, I don't do this fully, but I do trust in Your forgiveness, and I choose to partner with the Holy Spirit in being transformed to be more like Jesus every day. I recognize that this takes my commitment. However, I believe all of this ultimately comes back to Your gifts to me — the ability to believe, the grace to be forgiven, the Spirit-enabled power to be transformed, and the loving way you work in all things for my ultimate good. Thank you, dear Father; I recognize You as God. In the authority of Jesus' name, I offer this prayer of thanks. Amen.
Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.
'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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