James 2:8-26 The Evidence Of Faith

by | Aug 24, 2023 | 0 comments

I. Obedience Is Not A “Pick And Choose” Arrangement

A. Partial Obedience Is Not Obedience Vs. 8-11

1. Some Believers were showing preference to rich people and treating the poor badly.
2. It seems that they were defending their actions of showing special treatment to the rich by claiming that they were just “loving their neighbor as themselves”.

a. V. 8- This verse is written in such a way that it expects a positive response.
b. “If you really fulfill the law (like I expect that you do), then you do well…etc.

3. But James’ point is this: If you are going to love your neighbor, love them all.
4. Unless we love all of our neighbors equally, we are not fulfilling that command.
5. Vs. 10, 11- In a broader sense, if you successfully keep portions of the laws of God, but fail at other portions, then you are a law breaker.
6.I don’t believe that James is making a case about justification and salvation.
7. I do believe that he is speaking about daily Christian living, and our call to walk in all of God’s ways, and to not pick and choose our areas of obedience.
8. Possible examples for us.

a. I attend Bible studies and have my daily devotions, but I drink too much wine.
b. I share my faith when I get the chance, but I gossip about people I don’t like.

B. The Choice We Need To Make Vs. 12, 13

1. V. 12– We must choose to obey the entire word of God; it will judge our words/actions.

a. Loving some people is easy and natural for us.
b. We must be deliberate in loving others.
c. The highest work of God within us is that we see all people as God does, & that His love becomes a strong force within us, not just something we fight to surrender to.

2. Law of liberty- God’s word is not a heartless, unmerciful judge waiting to destroy us, but rather, it is there to correct us and to bring us into freedom.
3. Example-If you read your Bible, pray, but drink too much, God’s word will call you on it.
4. Example- If you share you faith, & serve at church, but gossip, God’s word calls you on it.
5. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
6. The “law of liberty”, if followed, promotes freedom in our lives. Free of sin, guilt, shame.
7. If God’s word convicts you of wrongdoing, the intent is to bring you back into freedom.
8. V. 13a– The person who shows no mercy to his fellow man is judged by God’s word, and that judgment is without mercy, in regards to the failings in his Christian life.
9. V. 13b– Mercy is better than judgment. It is more joyful to be merciful than it is to judge.

a. Mercy- Kindness and good will towards the afflicted, joined with a desire to help.
b. Triumphs-to rejoice against, to boast against, to glory over.

i. To set two things side by side, and to glory more over one than the other.
ii. To rejoice more over one thing than over another thing.

c. Judgment- opinion or decision against anything. Damnatory judgment.

II. True Faith Produces Visible Works Vs. 14-26

A. Incomplete Works Points To Non-Authentic Faith

1. V. 14- Keep in mind the setting. The preferential treatment of the rich over the poor.
2. Defending preferential treatment towards the rich by claiming to be loving my neighbor
3. Apparently claiming that loving some people was enough of an evidence of faith.
4. The Bible Knowledge Commentary- The emphasis is not on the true nature of faith but on the false claim of faith. It is the spurious (counterfeit) boast of faith that James condemned.
5. Anyone can claim to be doing what the Bible says when they only do that which is easy and natural to them. That isn’t necessarily faith. It is just human emotion.
6. Vs. 15, 16- An easily understood example.

a. James question is this: If you say you have faith, but treat people like that, is your faith real? Are you truly converted within? Can what you call “faith” really be “faith”?

7. V. 17- True Christian faith, produced by the indwelling Spirit of God, will manifest itself through works of faith and love.

a. If there are not corresponding works, then there is a good chance that there is no true faith, or at best, that Christian is in a state of carnality, or rebellious selfishness.

B. A False Dichotomy

1. V. 18- This seems to be an apparent objection to what James was saying
2. V. 18- Some said, “My faith is enough. I don’t need to show any works.”

a. The other said, “My faith is seen by my works”.

3. V. 19- This a criticism to the one that claims to have faith without a visible response.

a. Demons believe in God, and they have a visible response. Why don’t you?

4. V. 20- James rebukes the Christian that believes he can live a life of claiming to have faith but never manifesting true faith through good works.

a. Dead- inactive, destitute of force, inactive, lazy, idle, negligent; also, without life
b. The Bible Knowledge Commentary- genuine faith is accompanied by good works. Spiritual works are the evidence, not the energizer, of sincere faith.

C. Examples Of Faith Seen By Works Vs. 21-26

1. Vs. 21-24 Abraham’s faith was seen by his visible works, found in Genesis 15 & 22

a. Romans 4:1-3 1 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
b. Bible Knowledge Commentary– Paul…was arguing for the priority of faith. James argued for the proof of faith. Faith is the force behind the deed. The deed is the finality of the faith.
c. Vs. 21, 24- Justified- to render one righteous, or to exhibit him to be righteous.
d. V. 22- Perfect– made complete, to carry to the end.

2. V. 25 Rahab’s faith was seen in her acts of faith, as recorded in Joshua 2 & 6

a. Her faith was established when she believed in God. She was saved by faith.
b. Her faith was seen in action when she received the Jewish, & hid and protected them
c. Justified- to render one righteous, or to exhibit him to be righteous.

3. V. 26 Conclusion- One might claim to be a Christian and claim to have faith in Jesus.

a. Saving faith is a matter of the heart, mind and will: believing in Jesus Christ, His promises, the Word of God, etc.
b. A person who claims to have faith but shows no signs of it is in one of two categories:

i. They are not born again. They may have a recognition of God, but there is no true faith that moves them to respond by acts of faith & love. Dead faith; non-existent
ii. Carnal, selfish Christian that God is seeking to correct. Inactive, negligent faith.

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