Living Faith or Religious Words?
Many claim to be following the right way and to be doing what is pleasing to God? Does your life stand the test of what the Bible says is true living faith?
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?”—James 2:14
To be sure, God is concerned about what we believe. Faith is rooted in belief. God wants us to have an accurate view of the Scriptures and to have wisdom and understanding that our faith is based upon—we are exhorted to accurately handle the Word of truth. The Bible decries that “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”—Hosea 4:6 Not knowing what God’s Word teaches will eventually cause you to go astray, to have a wrong perception of God or to follow false teachings or false ways. The Scripture repeatedly states, “Do not be deceived!” How will you keep from being deceived unless you seek the Lord and His Word to find out what pleases Him?—Ephesians 5:10
So it is important to believe that God exists, that He created the universe and everything in it, that He sent his son to be the savior of the world, that Christ died for our sins—according to the Scriptures, and that Christ raised from the dead on the third day—according to the Scriptures. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.”—James 2:19 You believe and preach that Christians can and must overcome sin, live a righteous and holy life and have victory over the devil in this world. Good! Even the messengers of Satan preach this—for selfish gain.—2 Corinthians 11:13-15 You think that by ascribing to these teachings and beliefs you will be found blameless in the sight of God? Think again!
Make no mistake, “we are justified by faith and therefore have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.—Romans 5:1 It is by faith that we become innocent children, born of God. This is how our sins are washed away: by repentance from dead works and trust in the atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ shed on the cross. We cannot earn this forgiveness or salvation from sin because it is a gift of God, given to all who believe! No man is righteous in his own self, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23 Therefore, it takes the holy and blameless sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, to reconcile us to God; no act of penance, alms-giving, self-abasement, personal sacrifice or prayer can erase the guilt of our past sins without the payment of the holy offering (propitiation) found in Jesus the Messiah (which in Hebrew, for the Hebrews is Yeshua [or more fully Yehoshua for Joshua], which means “the Lord saves”—or more literally “the Lord who is salvation”). Like the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, Your wife shall have a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins.—Matthew 1:21
But from the moment that we turn to God in obedient repentance and truly believe the promises of God, we are born again, not through corruptible seed, but by the living and enduring Word of God!—1 Peter 1:23 Okay, so now we are newborn babies in the kingdom of God, by the power of the Holy spirit, through the living Word of God we have been brought near to God by our Savior Jesus Christ (wow!). What now?
Now that we have new life through our Savior, Jesus, who was sent from God; he has prepared things in advance for us to do.—Ephesians 2:10 After being born again, we are given further instruction. “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”—1 Peter 2:1-3,9-12
So in the previous passage of Scripture, we are instructed to proclaim the Lord’s praises and to abstain from fleshly lusts. Proclaim and abstain. Proclaim good and abstain from evil. We must do both! This is the pure spiritual milk that we should eagerly desire to hear, receive and put into practice. Jesus said we will produce a crop if we sow our spiritual walk in this way. We will be able to stand against persecution, temptation and deception when it comes. If you hear and read these words and don’t put them into practice or do not trust God that he will empower you to carry this out, then you will fall away in the time of testing, you will be choked out by the cares of this life and you will lose the Word of Truth that you have been given. Whatever good-looking religious structure you build, or sound doctrine you expound or pious prayers you offer will be revealed as empty and useless on the day of judgment.
Do not be deceived, the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power!—1 Corinthians 4:20 Watch what you say; for I tell you, you will have to give an account to God on the day of judgment for every idle word that you speak. Mere talk leads only to destruction; and the more you know and speak about God, the more you will be held accountable. “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?”—Proverbs 20:6 Don’t deceive yourself and say that you know the Bible, DO WHAT IT SAYS!—James 1:22-25 “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”—2 Corinthians 10:18 “…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”—James 3:5-6,10 In other words, “Stop talking and get to work!” “Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.”—Ecclesiastes 5:6a “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”—James 1:26-27
So being unspotted from the world brings us to the final requirement of being a true child of God that has living (saving) faith. You can say all the right words, believe the right doctrine and have lots of people say how wonderful you are and still go to Hell! Our life must be pure and spotless in the sight of our God and Father. We must fear Him rather than men so that our actions can spring from true love for God and love for other saints and even love for our enemies. We are told to be on guard against substitutes for the true living faith, which is rooted in Christ. We are to maintain godly sincerity, peace, love and Christian deeds and true signs of submission to God:
“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men-- 16as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
”Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.”
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-- 4rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
“Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”—1 Peter 2,3,5
Submission is one of the key Christian traits that is completely repulsive to the ways of wordly-minded individuals. If a person rejects the life of submission, he rejects the life of Christ. Loving your brother and hating your enemy is carnal, wordly thinking. Pagans live like that, Christians will love not only their brothers but also their enemies even as Christ loves us and gave himself up for us who were his enemies. Here the Scripture commands the following (with the understood exception that you are not being compelled to sin against God):
There are strong rebukes for the person that thinks they can snuggle up to the world and its ways and do things to conform to the world in various ways. Currently culture and society is no excuse for conducting yourself in a way that is contrary to the Scriptures! Are you willing to suffer along with Christ? It has been granted you, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him but also to suffer for his name.—Philippians 1:29
“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that
friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a
friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think
that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"?
6But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
A person who follows the pattern of this world’s ways and pattern is arrogant and proud and is resisted by God. Though he claims to have truth and understanding, his folly will be manifest in the end. We can be separate. We are IN the world but not OF the world. We MUST be SEPARATE; we must not be yoked or patterned after unbelievers:
“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”—2 Corinthians 6:17-18
Grace to all of you who love our
Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth--Ephesians