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INTRODUCTION James Chapter 2
It is God’s desire that his people manifest true, real, genuine faith, spirituality, morality by defeating the imperfect human desire to be impartial and producing acts of kindness. God expects Christians to be compassionate toward the impoverished in spiritual need instead of seeking attention from the rich and powerful.
2:1-4: We need to reject the sin of partiality.
2:5-7: We need to realize what happens when we are partial to some while ignoring others.
2:8-13: We need to live by God’s Law.
2:14-26: We need to have actions (works) resulting from genuine faith. Having a saving faith will result in a religious (spiritual, moral, holy, faithful, godly, devout) life. We need to be aware of the dangers of a faith that has no religious life. James offered us perfect examples of persons who had faith that resulted in works. God wants his people to manifest true, real, genuine faith, spirituality, morality as they live a religious (spiritual, moral, holy, faithful, godly, devout) life by carrying out deeds of compassion.
James wrote this letter to those who had misconstrued the doctrine of salvation by faith to be salvation by faith alone. There are only two kinds of faith: (1) a genuine faith that evidenced itself with works of kindness and obedience. (2) a false faith, which had a correct essential belief, which the demons also have, contradicting that belief by a life that lacks good works. The Holy Spirit inspired James to clarify that saving faith is evident by good actions, by living a religious (spiritual, moral, holy, faithful, godly, devout) life, by carrying out deeds of compassion. This is not accomplished with partiality toward the rich and powerful and a disdain for the poor. One can have a faith that contains correct beliefs and even emotions but has no good works. As a result, that faith is worthless.
James also demanded that God’s people have a faith that shows its righteousness before others. If one expects to be justified, declared righteous before God, he must have a saving faith that contains genuine works. Faith that is ever lacking evidence of its credibility is no faith at all. The genuine faith can only be known as real if others can see one’s unselfish actions of living a religious life. Today, most people evidence their faith by the “I believe.” James is bringing home the point that people whose belief is correct yet lack works are only deceiving themselves. They have to have faith that everyone can see their godly devotion.
Some examples of works that should be evident in a Christian life? The works are the fruitage of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21-23), and the Great Commission (Matt. 24:14; 28;19-20; Acts 1:8), as well as obeying such things as love your neighbor, helping those who need it if it is within your power, living a holy life, etc.
Mark 12:29-31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”