Today's Foundations Devotional: The heart, to believe, to walk and to act
The heart to believe, walk and act
But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to His mercy, He saved us,
through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
This spirit of faith is alive and active. It brings down the very life of God Himself, in Christ, to dwell within the believer’s heart. This life of God within the believer takes control of his whole nature – his desires, his thoughts, his words, his actions. The believer begins to think, speak and act in an entirely new way – a way that is totally different from what he would have done previously.
We may briefly consider, in order, each of the four examples which James gives and see how each illustrates this principle.
James 2:14-24: says:: 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.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without our works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was [j]accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
First, James speaks of the Christian who sees a fellow Christian naked and hungry and says to him, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but nevertheless does not offer him either food or clothing.
Obviously, this man’s words were not sincere. If he had really desired to see the other person warmed and fed, he would have given him food and clothing. The fact that he did not do it indicates that he did not really care. His words were an empty profession without any inward reality. So it is when a Christian professes faith but does not act according to that faith. Such faith is insincere, worthless, dead.
Second, James speaks of the demons, who believe in the one true God but tremble. These demons have no doubt whatever about the existence of God, but they know also that they are the unrepentant enemies of God, under His sentence of wrath and judgement. Therefore, their faith brings them no comfort, but only fear.
This shows that true, scriptural faith is always expressed in submission and obedience to God. Faith that continues stubborn and disobedient is dead faith that cannot save one from God’s wrath and judgement.
Third, James gives us the same example of faith as that given by Paul in Romans 4 – the example of Abraham. Abraham believed God, and it was “accounted ... to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).
Living faith in God’s Word came into Abraham’s heart. Thereafter, this faith was expressed outwardly in a continual walk of submission and obedience to God. Each act of obedience that Abraham performed developed and strengthened his faith and prepared him for the next act. The final test of Abraham’s faith came in Genesis 22, when God asked him to offer up his son, Isaac, in sacrifice (see also Heb. 11).
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac . . . accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead (Heb. 11:17-19).
By this time, through continual exercise in obedience, Abraham’s faith had been developed and strengthened even to the place where he really believed that God could raise up and restore his son to him from the dead. This faith in Abraham’s heart found its outward expression in his perfect willingness to offer up Isaac, and it was only the direct intervention of God that kept him from actually slaying his son.
Concerning this, James says:
Faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect (James 2:22).
We may, therefore, sum up Abraham’s experience as follows:
His walk with God began with faith in his heart in God’s Word. This faith expressed itself outwardly in a life of submission and obedience. Each act of obedience strengthened and developed his faith and made him ready for the next test. Finally, this interworking of faith and works in his life brought him to the climax of his faith – to the point where he was willing even to offer up Isaac.
Lord, it is almost inconceivable how full of trust upon You Abraham was, and how far he went in obedience on the basis of his faith in You. Help me to be so unwaveringly obedient to You, whatever You ask me and no matter how much it costs me. My life is about You, because You gave Yourself to Me first. Amen.
Click on the link below for the Derek Prince book that these daily devotionals are based on: