“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:17
“………by works faith was made perfect.” James 2:22
“Be doers of the word not hearer only, deceiving yourselves” James 1:22
I had a discussion with a friend about James 2:17 “faith without works” and we totally disagreed what he meant. Our differences was simply on the interpretation. My understanding is the moment I received Christ as my Lord, I was completely forgiven of all of my sins–past, present and future, and from that moment on God declared me righteous. I believe I absolutely have nothing to add to what He did on the cross. The only obligation I have (this is for every believer out there by the way) is to receive God’s free gift and I’ll have eternal life.
She doesn’t share the same view. She told me that’s not how this works. She said she is saved but she needs to continue doing the “incomplete” work on the cross (by writing the law in her heart through scripture memorization) to maintain her salvation and hopeful earn eternal life. She thinks when she meets God one day, He will ask her to recite every scripture she ever memorized in her lifetime that will determine if she is worthy of eternal life. I mean I was confused to say the least. The point is she doesn’t accept the work on the cross alone as complete. She is convinced James 1:22, 2:17, and a few other verses can prove her point.
Action Based Beliefs:
James had a lot to say about how works and beliefs or faith works together in harmony. However, he is not suggesting what Jesus did on the cross was not enough. What he is suggesting is this: thinking you can do something doesn’t mean you’ll actually do it. But it’s a good first step so as long as there are more steps. Example: I believe I can write a book. So I start writing one.
Belief is the catalyst, then action follows. Belief is simply confidence, which isn’t something just reserved for “confident” people (I’m the least confident person ever, but I still have it when necessary). Another example: I believe I can pray for people to get healed without peeing my skirt. So I do (the praying part, not the skirt-peeing part). Belief is the spark, action is the follow-through.
So belief only works when you act on it, taking it from an idea in the scripture to your head and your heart to something that’s tangible is controlled by your actions. Here’s how I see this working:
Assume what you’re doing will work. Assuming what you want will come to pass only happens if you take responsibility for it working. So if you want a buy someone groceries, assume you’ll find someone at a grocery store by walking up and down isles until you do.
So if you believe the book you want to write will be a success, you have to actually write the book, assuming it’ll sell out. Otherwise, you’ve got a big dream that you’ve done nothing about it.
You have to presuppose success. Otherwise, you’re constantly looking for reasons why your actions and work will be unfruitful. If you assume failure (which is unbelief and doubt), then every setback will signal an “I told you so!” from your brain to you.
Assume you’re more like what other people think of you. We’re in our own heads so much that we see all our shortcomings, and problems constantly. We all have our own setbacks to work on and work out. We’re all absolute crazy in our own heads. The good thing is that other people don’t see each and every one of those things, or if they do, it doesn’t matter nearly as much to them as it does to us. That’s because they’re also too busy thinking about their own shortcomings to worry much about ours.
The more we realize that everyone’s so self-involved that they don’t see our shortcomings or matter to them as much we think they do, the more we can be free to try things and make mistakes along the way. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and it never ruins the entire show.
Remember that your actions are directly based on the software you run the most in your mind. Our brains are like a computer that has two software; Belief and Doubt. Belief software comes from the Holy Book and doubt software comes from the world. When we run the Doubt software, we become experts in our own shortcomings because that’s all the software does, it shows us why every action can be stopped with any tiny excuse for when a situation is less than perfect. The software tells us we can’t, we shouldn’t, we aren’t good enough to try.
If we run Belief, it shows us what we can achieve almost anything if we do the work. It gives us reasons why we can, we should, and that we’re good enough to give it a go.
Both software do exactly what they’re supposed to do, with remarkable efficiency. They start running instantly after we open them, and they get to processing information through their lens. So if we’re running Doubt all day, every tiny thing that happens, from rain to a nasty email to a computer crashing to a stomach ache becomes a signal that our faith in our capabilities is wrong and therefore all action that moves us towards what we want should be halted.
Whereas if we’re running a Belief all day, the rain signals that it’s a great day to work inside, or the bad email means we should delete that single person off our mailing list, or the computer crash means it’s a good time to get up and stretch or a stomach ache simply means we should eat something and then get back to work.
The same events happen while running both software, but each one processes data in a totally different way then release.
If you’re confident what you’re taking action on will work and Belief is running in the background, then the final step is release. As in, you’ve believed, you’ve done everything you possibly can, and now it’s time to see what happens with factors beyond your control.
So if I’ve meditated on a scripture, rehearsed it daily for months, then when that storm emerged, when the mountain gets on my way, I speak to it to be moved and be cast into the sea. And, if I believe it will be done with no doubt in my heart, I’m releasing control. Whatever happens at that point will happen. At that point, I’ve done the work, I’ve enjoyed the process of working, and the outcome is whatever it’ll be. Same with, for example, writing a book. If I did my best to learn and use my first-hand knowledge, found the best agent who hooked me up with the best publisher and editor, and together we put out a great book with a solid marketing strategy – then the book’s success or failure is now due to a million tiny little things going right or wrong.
Perhaps the best part of believing, taking action and releasing is that if you had the confidence, did the work and put it out into the world then you’ll be fine no matter the result. You can always have another idea to act on, another scripture to meditate, another book to write, another blessing. Just like while doing the work you can’t assume failure, if you assume failure once the work is done, even if that work isn’t succeeding by your own definition, then it’s likely you’ll find some reason to stop trying. Whereas if you assume it’ll work out until it’s proven not to work out, you won’t dwell on the failure too long because you’ll be back on believing in something else and working towards that.
Belief is only the first step to succeeding at something, action must follow. I honestly don’t think faithful people are smarter, more driven, or more blessed that makes them somehow “better” than other people. I just think they believe what they think or say will come to pass and then get to work proving themselves right. And so when you read “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 Your work is to believe you have eternal life because His word said so or continue with your unbelief and doubts at your own peril.