Welcome back, Willing Spirits!
This week’s topic is different in the sense that we have two verses we’re going to discuss and compare with each other. A lot of us tend to get confused or mix up the idea of our salvation. So let’s clear things up a bit x.
Context is everything when studying the bible and understanding the teachings embedded in it. ‘It’s not by our actions that we are saved, but by faith’. But that same faith we have isn’t “saved” faith without action. Stay with me now. So, to fully experience salvation (through faith), we must behave in a way that compliments our faith. So works is still necessary in the Christian life–we still have to do good and live a holy life.
This is what James was getting at when he stated: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also“[NKJV]. The Christian life requires us to do good, be righteous and act on that belief we have in God, not in order to be saved but to be holy. Believing that works will grant us favour in God is “fake” faith.
‘Works are to be done by those already saved, not those who need saving’.– A Willing Spirit
The idea of faith being dead without works, trumps the notion that we needn’t care for the way we act so long as we proclaim that Jesus is our Saviour and we believe He exists. James gives the example of the devil and his minions believing in God as the basis of “fake” faith, saying: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!” (v.19) So, essentially, having faith in God alone is the level the devil and his demons are at. This kind of faith isn’t “saved” faith.
On the other hand, the true, “saved” faith is supported by the example of Abraham that James gives in (v.21) “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?“. Abraham believed in God and showed this through his actions–obedience. Living life according to our declaration of faith through God’s word is the right way to exercise and prove faith. In fact, it’s the only way to exercise and prove faith!
So, now that we have fully understood (hopefully!) the difference between the meaning behind these two verses and the idea of us being saved through faith not works, it’s time to ask how do we make sure we have this saved faith and not a mere intellectual one like the devil and his minions? How do we act on said faith? Reading the bible, obeying God’s commands, both general and those specific to you, praying and treating others in a respectful manner are examples of ensuring “saved” faith. This is the difference between “fake” faith and that faith which is God-given/”saved” faith.
No one said it would be easy, might I add, but it is definitely possible with God’s help as we see many times throughout the bible. God wants to help us too. He wants us to truly believe. We just have to acknowledge that it will take more than just saying we believe and actually show it like James also said “…be doers of the word, and not hearers only…” [James 1:22 NKJV]. God has been gracious enough to give us the opportunity to be saved, it’s up to us to accept it and act like we have been. Once we understand the monumental impact that being saved by grace has on us and what this means for our lives, it will be all the more easier to accept.
I hope this week’s post helped you understand a few things and helps you in your journey with Christ. Don’t hesitate to let me know of your thoughts too!
Until next week, God willing x!
– A Willing Spirit