James, the half-brother of Christ, often gets a bad rap, I think. People, misguidedly, think he teaches works as equal to or above faith, and usually hate the book as a whole because of the statements he makes on the subject. Yet, I can't help but wonder if the problems we (yes, at times, I find fault) have with this isn't because James is wrong, but the arguments we make about it come from our own rebellion and depravity. James, for all his waxing eloquent, is simply asking "You have faith, where is the evidence?" And isn't that our problem? We want to love God, and yet we want to have things our way. This can't happen. It doesn't work that way. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. If we believe in God through Christ Jesus, if the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us, where's the proof?
Apart from Christ, the works of the flesh are evident. Paul labels them blatantly:
sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Do you know that I am depraved without God? I'm not good enough. None of us are. Apart from God, I am in the flesh, and the works are evident in me. My power is not mine; it comes from my very basic, deep and abiding need for God in every facet of my life. There is the difference between knowing and doing. My kids can know what I want them to do, but if they don't do it, they're in rebellion against me. In the same way, if I am in the word, and I know scripture, and I hear it, and I don't do it, I'm lost. The good I do is for nothing, because if my need for God does not move me to DO what He says, I am lost. So I humble myself, I admit my fault, and cry out for my need. I deny myself, pick up my cross, daily, and follow. It's not enough to know. If I have faith in Christ Jesus, I must do as He says.
1 Samuel 15:22-23
And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”