Remember, you're saved by faith alone, but not a faith that is alone.
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James 2 (ESV)
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly,
and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
3 and if
you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,”
while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”
4 have you not then
made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brothers,
has not God chosen those who are poor in the world
to be rich in faith
and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
6 But you have dishonored the poor man.
Are not the rich the ones
who oppress you,
and the ones who drag you into court?
7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”
you are doing well.
9 But if you show partiality,
you are committing sin
and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
keeps the whole law
but fails in one point
has become guilty of all of it.
11 For he who said,
“Do not commit adultery,”
also said, “Do not murder.”
If you do not commit adultery
but do murder,
you have become a transgressor of the law.
12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What good is it, my brothers,
says he has faith
but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?
a brother or sister
is poorly clothed
and lacking in daily food,
16 and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, be warmed and filled,”
without giving them the things needed for the body,
what good is that?
17 So also faith
if it does not have works,
18 But someone will say,
“You have faith
and I have works.”
your faith apart from your works,
and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that God is one;
you do well.
Even the demons believe—and shudder!
20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
21 Was not Abraham our father
justified by works
when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that
faith was active along with his works,
and faith was completed by his works;
23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says,
“Abraham believed God,
it was counted to him as righteousness”—
and he was called a friend of God.
24 You see that a person is justified
and not by faith alone.
25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works
when she received the messengers
and sent them out by another way?
as the body apart from the spirit is dead,
so also faith apart from works is dead.
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James 2 Summary
REMEMBER THE FORMAT OF JAMES: James 2 has two sections, and the first doesn't seem to have anything to do with the second. Nor does James 2 seem to have anything to do with what we read yesterday in James 1. That's because each of these individual passages in James is like a stand alone mini-sermon. This letter is probably a collection of memorable lessons James had taught over the years.
In the first section of today's chapter, James reminds us that God has chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith (v5). This means we must overcome our instinct to be attracted to attractive people, whether in our personal lives, or especially in the church.
In the second section, we read that true faith is not just closing your eyes and believing Jesus will save you, rather our actions are the primary indicator of how healthy our faith is. No perceivable good deeds in your life likely means that you have very little true faith.
I hope all of your mental alarms were blaring as you read v24:
A person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
That almost sounds unbiblical to us Calvinistic Reformed folk, doesn't it! But don't twist James' words. Read them in context. James is saying that when you do genuinely good things, it's an expression of your faith. Remember what we read in Hebrews 11:6, "without faith it is impossible to please God." James is simply contrasting true faith with mere intellectual assent (as in, even the demons 'believe' in God - v19). True faith will always be accompanied by the Fruit of the Spirit we just read about in Galatians 5.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The almighty God who has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom (v5).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that that your faith and your actions are working together (v22).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: