Demonstrating Our Faith - What Does This Mean? (Article 19-17)
We know that faith, our active trust in Jesus Christ to be the pinnacle of our salvation. One of the best sources of scripture in understanding how to demonstrate our faith is in the Book of James.
Although not an early believer in Christ, James (Christ's half-brother) became a believer after Christ's resurrection. In writing his epistle, James writes to one central theme. That theme is how to demonstrate our faith and, in so doing, speaks to many ways we should demonstrate our genuine faith in Christ. James speaks to true faith as:
Demonstrating Our Commitment to Godliness In Good and Bad Times. In the first chapter, James begins his epistle by teaching us that true faith is based on our desire to respond to our trials and tribulation with practical godliness under God's testing. In so doing, faith produces patience, and from patience comes its perfect work, from which we become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1: 2-3). In other words, true faith is demonstrated by facing God's tests of faith with joy, believing that by way of faith, we desire to seek and obtain God's wisdom. In this chapter, too, we see the need to preserve our faith, not blaming God for the temptations we confront. Finally, faithfulness means to obey God's word, even when tempted not to do so.
Demonstrating Our Desire to be Obedient. In the second chapter of James' epistle, James talks to true faith showing no partiality. James says: 1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4).
Doing Good Works. James closes this chapter by pointing out that faith is dead without performing good works, and doing so, according to God's will. 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2: 14-17). Doing good works, which is driven by our faith, is our call to discipleship – being good followers and doers of Jesus Christ, and in the process being Christ-like.
Controlling Our Tongue and Acting With Meekness and Wisdom. In the third Chapter, James states that true faith is controlling our tongue, underscoring the power of our words. 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell… 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:6-8). However, it's important to note in the above verses, James also tells us that none of us have the power to control our tongue. His point of not being able to control our tongue emphasizes our need to abide in Christ, for it is the Spirit in Christ in our inner-most being that gives us the desire and power to tame our tongue. In closing this chapter, James states that true faith also depends on conducting ourselves with meekness and wisdom and the importance of removing bitterness and selfishness within our heart, and the importance of remaining humble and truthful to God's word. In sum, true faith is being peaceful, gentle, and willingness to bear good fruits. 13 Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. (James 3: 13-16).
Resisting Arrogance and Embracing Humbleness. James reminds us that the source of our unrest (the wars and fights in us) come from our fleshly desires, lusts, and coveting and our embracing of the world's ways is at odds with God's will. 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. (James 4: 1-2). True faith requires us to abandon the pursuit of our fleshly desires and to ask and depend on Christ to meet our needs. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ) dwells in us jealously (waiting with zeal) to hear from us. James then teaches us that true faith requires us to be humble, and with it, the opening up of our hearts to receive Christ. By so doing, we can draw near to God. 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4: 7-9). We are not to be double-minded, wherein on the instance we turn to God for His grace and, in other situations, allow our pride to drive us to states of self-determination, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and selfishness. We must abandon our prideful nature and depend on Christ for all things (John 15).
Conclusion. Faith is not wishful thinking. It is a commitment built on a foundation of truth, hope, and love. If we as believers speak only to the word faith and not demonstrate it, how are we to receive the fullness of Christ and all that it promises? If we believe that we are saved by faith, and faith alone, we must be willing to demonstrate our faith in our actions and intent.