14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[b] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
I love this passage in James because it is such a good reminder of why our behavior and actions should reflect our faith. I can remember vividly witnessing to John as a teenager and explaining to him that it wasn't just about believing in our head that there is a God, but that our belief in God needed to work it's way to our hearts and that our faith gives us the desire to want to obey Him and choose to do what is right. I shared verse 19 with John about "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble!" Whoa!!! He said out loud, are you comparing me to a demon. Of course not, John. I'm explaining that there is a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge, and that God wants more than just our minds to believe but He's looking for a heart change!
If you ask John to this day, what verse helped in transforming you to becoming a Christian, what really impacted you to realize that you needed a God, that he wanted you and loves you and desires a relationship with you, what verse sticks out in your mind it would be James 2:19!
See, the thing I knew when I was witnessing to John was that he knew all about God, he grew up in the Catholic church, he heard about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but he didn't KNOW God as his best friend. He knew God enough to believe that going to church was good and saying your prayers was good, but he wasn't willing to change the music he listened to, the negative influences around him, or the way he talked or treated his parents. He knew God created the world, he believed Jesus died on the cross, but he wasn't willing to give up sinful behaviors he had. And being willing to change is only after you KNOW and experience God in your heart. After you KNOW him and you LOVE him with all your heart, mind, and soul, change happens! And what a beautiful example my John is of that kind of miraculous change...literally over night! Only God can do that!
God wants all of us...not just our minds, not just church attendance on Sundays, not a quick devotional to be able to check off our list each morning, he wants ALL of us. And our actions reflect what is in our hearts! So faith and works go hand in hand!