What Is Dead Faith and Actually Living by Faith — James 2
In James 2:17, we read, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Or, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” By definition, Living by Faith will include Action!
So, what is the difference between a dead faith and a living faith? Faith is not like inorganic matter, like a rock or a fountain pen. A rock or a fountain pen, even with flowing ink on paper, must be moved by someone or something, for they cannot move themselves. We can all tell the difference between a dead animal and a live animal, after a while, there are very distinct differences. After a while a person with a “dead faith” in the Church begins to take on the spiritual characteristics of a rock or a dead animal, and their dead faith becomes very noticeable to others.
On the other hand, a living faith has all the characteristics of life. A person with a living faith in Jesus Christ has “the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change” for ever and ever. In Christ Jesus, they will grow spiritually. In some way, they will be involved in reproducing Christians like themselves (through prayer, giving, witnessing or working as the Lord enables them—due to disabilities or personal hardships or persecutions, some will only be able to do the most important work of all PRAY in faith, trusting in the Lord for the outcome). They will be involved in some functional activity as the Holy Spirit within them guides and empowers them; they will praise God with love and thanksgiving, and they will read His Word with hope for the future that God has planned. They will experience continual change. Someone has said, “I am not all I want to be, but thank God I am not what I used to be.” Continual change is the process of sanctification in this life, of being set apart by God for His holy use in the ways He chooses, of becoming increasingly more like Jesus Christ. Faith is accompanied by action. And living by faith includes our active choice to follow Jesus Christ wherever He leads according to the Scriptures.
You may want to discuss with your class the characteristics of a person who is spiritually dead and the Christian who has been made alive by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
You might also discuss the difference that those who are spiritually alive make in the church, as well as those who have a dead faith.
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May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!
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