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But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:20)
But do you want to know: Does this person want the absolute best example of, unquestionable case of what real faith is. Will this person accept the most decisive proof in the case of genuine faith? James clearly felt that the real-life examples he was about to give of Abraham and Rahab were persuasive and compelling for the rational, reasonable person.
O foolish man: The foolish (κενός kenos) or senseless person here is unintelligent (stupid) and lacking any purpose in life. This person had a view of faith that was indefensible. Such a person indeed has absolutely no actual knowledge of God or his Word. (Jas. 1:18, 21) He is void of understanding. His argument of what faith is is only evidence that he is senseless. Any man with the smallest amount of common sense could see that faith without works is dead. The inner person, the place that should have been impacted by real faith, is empty, be he has no such faith, it is imaginary, only in his head, not his heart. He wanders about aimlessly with no advantage or benefit in his life.
that faith without works is useless: The faith (πίστις pistis) or belief, such as what demons possess (Jas. 2:19) results in something, that is, shuddering, trembling convulsively as from fear, being terrified. Even so, it never resulted in leading them toward salvation. Instead, it was completely dead. This foolish man has even less faith than those demons. The faith that this foolish one possesses is absolutely worthless and useless in the matter of salvation.
The man spoken of here in verse 20 of chapter 2 applies to any Christian, male or female. This man has not the Following three things that are needed to produce genuine faith: (1) knowledge, (2) real belief, (3) and obedience. To become a well-grounded Christian that possesses genuine faith, one must:
(1) obtain a real, broad knowledge of Bible truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4),
(2) put faith in the things they have learned (Hebrews 11:6),
(3) repent of his sins (Acts 17:30-31), and
(4) turn around in his course of life. (Acts 3:19),
(5) Then, his love for God should move him to dedicate himself to Christ. (Matt. 16:24; 22:37)
(6) Finally, baptism (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-10; Acts 8:36)
We will notice that genuine faith in the above process results in works (actions). If one is missing the knowledge of God and his Word, he cannot believe in something he has no actual in-depth knowledge of. But when it comes to this foolish man, both his mind and heart are empty because no genuine faith exists there. The demons even fared better than this man did because the “faith” or belief that they possess at least generated the emotion of fear, which caused them to shudder, tremble uncontrollably at the thought of God’s great power and authority. However, those demons and Christians such as this man lack genuine faith that would move them toward salvation. This foolish man categorically has no action. This foolish man is entirely unproductive.