“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?" (James 2:14-20)
A sister in the Lord recently contacted me to share some very distressing sin she was engaged in that could have been devastating to her and all who know her. As I was listening, I became anxious and angry, which made me useless throughout most of the conversation as a vessel of the Living God. Though I did finally hear some truth come from both her and me, after the conversation I wanted to wash my hands of her. I thought to myself, I cannot walk this road with her. The truth of the matter is, I am not to walk the road of sin with her, but neither am I to abandon her because her sin overwhelms me. But I am to abandon myself to the Living God within me confirming any Truth I hear coming from her while allowing Him to speak truth to all the lies she has bought into. I am to be a vessel of the Living God, not a vessel who abandons ship. I am to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. Otherwise, I too am deceived.
When someone comes to us empty and we send them away empty with the same sentiment that we find in the book of James—“Go in peace, be warmed, and be filled,” we temporarily abandon Ship (God) and risk sending them away from the peace, warmth and filling that are available to them only in Christ Jesus. This should never be. But if this is a constancy in our lives then we must consider that our faith may be dead.
“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)
“Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:21-25 NJKV)
When we hear the Word and do not put it into practice, we become deceived. We become forgetful hearers. What we practice becomes our way of life. By practicing Truth (Jesus) we release Truth, which becomes our Way of Living. So if we are not practicing Truth what exactly are we practicing? Sin! We become willing vessels of the enemy (oppression) rather than willing vessels of the Living God.
What do works have to do with faith? Everything!
Faith is a Person therefore works are the manifestation of that Person, Jesus Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is exactly that—the fruit of the Spirit not the fruit of self-effort (death). Faith and works are the evidence of Salvation and the demonstration of the power of God within us. The Apostle Paul was a great example of this.
“I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:3-5)
When God called Moses out of the wilderness to deliver His people from the bondage of Egypt, Moses asked God to send someone else. But he went. When Jonah was told to go preach to the sinners in Nineveh he ran in the opposite direction, which is exactly what I wanted to do. But in Jonah’s disobedience for abandoning Ship (God), he was thrown off the ship to save the lives of the others who were on the vessel, and then he was swallowed by a large fish where he sat for a few days. In the end, he too went.
Like the Apostle Paul, we may all go in weakness, fear, and much trembling at times, but let us all still go, and may we go in demonstration of the Spirit and of power proving that we have a Faith that Works.