Just as love without an active response is meaningless, so faith without action according to God’s word is empty. A transforming faith should be evident in new behavior.
When a baby is born, the doctor sometimes spanks the newborn, if necessary, to make it cry, thus indicating it is alive and breathing. Without the sign of this first cry, the doctor suspects the baby is not alive. Crying does not generate life in the baby, but it does indicate that the baby already has life. James stated, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).
Works cannot generate faith, but genuine faith always shows a changed life as evidence of the new birth.
In James 2:18, James has created a hypothetical person who argues that faith and works are entirely unrelated. But God says that actions without faith are meaningless, just as faith without obedient responses to His word is meaningless. This case is illustrated by Jesus’s warning: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).
John saw the same issue: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 Jn 2:4–-5).
The opposite is just as deceiving: one might presume to have faith because of his works and trust that God will approve of him because of those good works, but “not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt 7:21–-23).
Such a person believes in God, but his heart is filled with his own sense of self–worth rather than with Jesus’ merciful grace.
The “will of [Christ’s] Father” (John 6:40) is clear: “For this is the will of my Father– for everyone who … believes in him to have eternal life, “ No one can trust God’s promises for salvation without being changed. How has the gospel changed your life?
“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your gracious salvation and for the desire it has given me to love You by daily putting into practice the things You have said.”