Test of Faith

James 2:19

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble.

What is true of biology is also true of faith:  If it is not growing, it’s probably dead.  If someone tells you, “I believe there is a God in heaven,” you can be sure that person is one of the following:

  • a Christian
  • a user of some devotional guide
  • an individual who attends church, or
  • none of the above. 

Pick an answer, and then let us look at a scripture in chapter 2.

James 2:19 – You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Do you tremble at the awesome power and presence of God when you are out of line according to the Scriptures?  Do you fall under conviction at the reading of certain verses of the Bible when you know you don’t measure up?

James speaks out strongly against a “faith of God” that merely professes with the lips without practicing with the life.  You might summarize his book this way:  “If you believe as you should, why do you behave as you shouldn’t?”  We might say, “Your actions speak louder than words”, or “put your money where your mouth is.”   True faith is more than words or even profession.  It is a vital walk that shows God has truly invaded your life.  If you have truly been changed, your life will demonstrate that change and it will show that change as it “breathes” in unmistakable ways.  And that raises a timely question….

Since you trusted Christ as your Savior, how has your lifestyle changed in the troublesome areas of some of the following categories?  You don’t need to raise your hand or say Amen to any of these areas of questionable actions: 

  • prejudice
  • profanity
  • gossip
  • argumentative
  • giving to God in time, talent and finances
  • planning for the future
  • accepting unpleasant circumstances?

What is that one area that, with God’s help, you will move from being a hearer to a doer of God’s Word?

James 1:22 – But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves

Taking both of these scriptures into account, what is James trying to tell us?  I believe that he is trying to say “If you call yourself a Christian or a child of God, then you ought to act like it.  You ought to speak like it.  You ought to think like it.  You ought to dress like it.”

Does the Bible not say?

Romans 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Question:  James 2:19 states that demons tremble in the presence of Jesus. They did when He walked the face of this earth and they do when you invoke His mighty Name in prayer.  Did you know that when you are living an overcoming, consistent Christian life, you have the power to use the Name of Jesus in prayer and temptation must go?  Most who call themselves Christian, live shallow, inconsistent lives of continually falling into sins they seemingly have no control over.  The truth and answer to this dilemma is simply that they fail to obtain victory because they do not know the privilege of using the King of Glory’s Holy Name when they go to prayer.   Prayer is answered when you go to the Father in the Name of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit within you begins to His work.  

Just as a human body that fails to breathe is labeled a “dead body,” so too a faith that fails to “breathe” is labeled a “dead faith.”  And the breath of faith in the Christian life is good works: demonstrating concern for the poor, controlling the tongue, exhibiting a spirit of humility, building up others.  If you think you have faith but there is no living demonstration of that faith in your life, James has news for you:  Your faith is worthless. True faith and good works cannot be divorced, for your life is the laboratory in which your faith is shown to be real.

James 4:2-3 – You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

There may come a time in your life when you wonder why you are not growing in your faith.  Or you might wonder why you do not ever have the opportunity to lead others to Christ.  When you ask yourself these kinds of questions, you may be able to answer them with another question:  “Have I asked God to help me in this area?”

Understand that this passage does not advocate that you “demand” things from God as though He were some “cosmic butler” prepared to answer your every beck and call.  Yet it is equally wrong to fail to ask Him to help meet your needs.  God wants to bless your life and spiritually strengthen you.  God wants to bless you because you are His child.  Unfortunately, many of us fail to receive all of what God has for us because we do not pray. 

Take a moment to look at your own spiritual progress.  Do you want to have a better understanding of the Bible?  Are you looking for some Christian friends?  Do you want the Lord to show you what your spiritual gifts and talents are?  God wants to bless you, but He may be just waiting for your invitation to do so.

While you do not need to change your lifestyle before you come to Christ, once you do come to Christ, your lifestyle should show tangible changes.  If it does not, then one could doubt whether Christ has really come into your life.  The way you live, act, think, should reflect what you believe. 

Luke 3:8 – Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…

James brings out another important reason for backing up our faith with our actions in the following passage. 

James 3:13-17 – Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

When people see that we genuinely care about them as individuals, then they will be much more open to hearing about what motivates us.  Can people see Jesus in the way you live?  If not, it is time to move Jesus into the “driver’s seat” of your life.