James – Dealing with sin
We are all dying daily. “I would die to have that new car!” “I would die to live in that home and swim in that pool.” “I would die to be a part of the group of friends.” “I would die for a glass of ice cold water on this hot day.” Yes, we “die” for all kinds of things, saying words we don’t really mean. If we continue we might end up being what we asked for…a corpse. No life. Dead to the world around us. No longer seeing what is real and good. No longer able to help or contribute to the world around us. We are full of self with no life left to live.
UNLESS we turn our thinking and behaving 180 degrees to face our Savior and Lord. Repent of only words, silly words and watch the Jesus in us show us all we need to BE and DO. Only then will our corpse be resurrected to live the abundant, promised life by following Christ. “See how He did it and do that” as we learned in Hebrews. Jesus said a lot of words and acted upon those words as His father directed Him. Supreme Example.
Now James goes a bit farther to explain how what we believe is connected to what we do. BE and DO. They go together like peanut butter and honey and cannot be separated.
James 2, The Message
Faith in Action
14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
What do we learn?
–Even the demons believe in Christ…and shudder when they hear His Name!
–The enemy is greatly frustrated when we actually act upon what we hear from God. Take pleasure in frustrating the demons!
–Abraham became a friend of God, a holy relationship, because he believed AND acted upon God’s direct orders.
–Rahab, a prostitute, believed in God and did what He told her to do which saved the lives of others. This act saved her from being a corpse.
So, how do we want to live? Like a corpse or fully alive in Christ? It will take some work in us to listen more closely to the faint whisper of God in us telling us when and where to act upon what we say we believe. But I believe it is worth every effort we make. Learn to listen well. BE still before God each day. Then DO what He says. It’s not complicated. So, don’t complicate it with what we think we ought to do. I want to be God’s friend, don’t you? Die only to self and a relationship with the world. LIVE for Christ, with Christ living in us. THIS is the most important relationship to have and to hold dearly.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Lead me to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right Spirit even if my mind is questioning what You are asking and doing. I know you will. I trust in you alone for all guidance and action. Continue to transform me to be AND do all that pleases You.
In Jesus Name, Amen