“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 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? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14–17
If love is real it will inevitably result in actions that demonstrate that love. You see love is other focused, and because it’s other focused it must lovingly touch the lives of others to really be love. The love that lives in the heart will, if it’s real, affect and influence the choices made in the life of the lover, and it could be said that if those actions and choices aren’t made to confirm the love the feelings and impulses associated with love never matured sufficiently to really, effectively, be love. The beginning, the potential, was there but it never grew sufficiently to really become love.
So it is with faith. Faith isn’t love, but faith, like love, requires action to really be faith.
Several years ago I came across a definition for faith that I really like. I wish I’d taken better notes so that I could credit the author for his incite but the best I can do at present is to apologies and give the credit for this definition to an anonymous author. What’s the definition? “Faith is knowledge that leads to action.”
As we grow in our experience with God, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, our relationship with the church, and our study of the word of God we gain knowledge. That knowledge then has the capacity to grow into belief. In belief we acknowledge that what we’ve come to know is true. When that belief, the conviction we have of the truth, produces action in harmony with our belief then we have faith.
But notice that without the corresponding action the knowledge isn’t faith. It’s just knowledge.
By the same token, action unprompted by knowing God isn’t faith either. Those actions are merely coincidental convergences that at times occur but they don’t indicate that we’re in a relationship with God because they were produced by a different set of motivations.
For faith to be faith it must be the knowledge of God living in the life of the believer through action.
Without the action the apostle James says our faith is dead and useless.
The Spirit that comes into our lives after we accept Jesus and his salvation comes to give us life. If we’re alive in the Spirit of Christ then our faith, if it’s really faith, must be alive and active as well.