Today’s verse reads, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
The book of James is kind of like the Proverbs of the New Testament. It supplies rules for living to its audience. In this chapter, James starts off by telling the Jewish Christians to whom his letter is directed that favoritism is wrong..He gives the example of choosing a rich man over a poor man to get the best seat at the table and reminds the Jewish Christians that they are supposed to love their neighbors as themselves. He also lets them know that committing even one sin makes a person a sinner or lawbreaker. In the next part of the chapter, James talks about how faith without works is dead. He gives examples such as Abraham sacrificing Isaac and Rahab lodging the spies to supplicate his assertion.
So, what exactly does this verse mean? Well, what happens when a person is not saved? They die a physical death as well as a spiritual death because they do not have the Holy Spirit within themselves. The Holy Spirit is the evidence that the person is saved. We know that a person is saved because they possess the “fruits of the Spirit”. So, just like that, deeds are evidence that a person has faith.
Let’s talk about evidence for a second. There are two types of evidence. Circumstantial and direct evidence. Circumstantial evidence is, “evidence that relies on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact.” Therefore, circumstantial evidence is not conclusive by any means. So, if you do not perform any deeds, then people saying that you believe is just circumstantial. They are making an inference which has nothing to support it. The second kind of evidence is direct evidence. Direct evidence “supports the truth of an assertion”. So, direct evidence, like having the fruits of the Spirit, is conclusive and proves the stated claim, such as that you are saved.
This is a subject that confuses a lot of people because the Bible also says that good works will not get you into heaven (Galatians 2:16). So, is this not contradictory? No, it is not. Why? Faith is the only thing that can get you into heaven, however, as I mentioned before, everything has evidence. Works are only the evidence of faith. We follow God’s commandments because we have faith. Jesus says, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” (John 14:23). To put it into perspective, let me give you an example. If you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend and you love them, you’re not going to do things to purposely hurt them are you? No! You’re going to do things as much as you can to please them and make them happy. This is the same with God. If we say we love God, then we’re not going to disobey him, and if we do, we’re going to repent and try our very best not to do it again. Because our sin hurts God.
What can we take away from this verse. How about, “Make sure that your actions are always backing up your words.” In other words, if you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk! However, don’t get discouraged if you mess up. We’re all going to mess up at some time or another. Maybe even more than once. Just make sure that you continue to strive towards God always!
Do better. Think better. Be better.