Today, I come to you with this post. I do not intend so much as to educate you today, but just to provoke thoughts, which will, in turn, allow you to make your own judgements on this topic and ultimately strengthen your faith in the Lord your God.
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:17
The passage above from scripture is one which is so commonly misinterpreted, especially when read out of context. James is saying here in his letter, that if we have true faith in Jesus, then that faith causes a change in our behaviour.
James goes on to say, “you believe that there is one God. Good!”, well “even the demons” and Satan believe in God. Christians believe in God, not as to his existence, but who he is; Christians believe in God’s grace, which is only possible as a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That is faith, and it is only by such faith that we are made righteous with God.
We must remember, through our belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and in his death and resurrection, we are made one with God and can have a relationship with our heavenly father. Our righteousness with God is not a reward for our earthly actions.
Jesus came to Earth to teach us that it is not through keeping the rules and regulations of the law, that we are accepted by God. God’s grace is a gift to all and not doing these actions does not make you any less righteous.
Paul writes in his book to the people of Rome, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He goes on to answer, “for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I love how the NLT Translation puts it in Ephesians:
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
Does this mean we can be assured of our salvation without the obligation to change our sinful ways? Paul writes in Galatians 5:19-26, “when you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear”. He believes that if we have invited the Spirit into our lives, we should be “living by the Spirit”, making our decisions in life be affected by what God wants and his intentions for our lives.
However, I return to where I began. What is our faith, if we do not change our actions? What James is saying is that changed actions do not save us because we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ. He is saying that our faith in Jesus will, by the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, as we submit to Him, result in a changed life. Changed lives prove we are saved, not that changed lives achieve our salvation.