They Say and Do Not
James writes, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works" (James 2:18). Is it possible to show faith without works? Consider the 11th chapter of Hebrews. The only way Noah could show his faith was to "move with fear" and build the ark (vs. 7). The only way Abraham could show his faith was to obey God (vs. 8). The same is true of the other "heroes of the faith" mentioned in this chapter. Can any man give evidence of faith without actively serving God? I deny that such is possible. I challenge anyone to show real evidence of his trust in God outside of the deeds he does in submission to God's will.
Some say they have faith in the promises of God (Matt. 18:20; John 12:26), yet fail to attend most of the Bible classes and the Sunday evening evangelistic services. Does their absence show faith? Or does it not rather show a lack of faith? Show me your faith without works (Can it be done?) and I will show my faith by my works.
Virtually all brethren say they believe that it is important for an individual to study and understand the will of God, then to obey it. Do you agree? And do you do it? Or do you "say and do not" (Matt. 23:3)? Do you pass up most opportunities to study the Bible with other Christians, then fail to even read the scriptures at home, or, at best, only read occasionally and haphazardly? Do you neglect private prayer? Does your family give thanks at meal-time? Are you as concerned that your children prepare their lessons for the Bible classes as you are that they complete their homework assignments for school? "Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works."
Does your language show that you are a Christian? Have you put away lying, slander, etc.? Do you use God's name only in reverence? Or does thy speech betray thee?
Is your life a continual confession of your faith in Jesus Christ? He warns that to be ashamed of Him in this wicked and adulterous generation is to cause Him to be ashamed of us in the day of judgment (Mark 8:38). Do you show your faith by your works, or do the actions of your life betray a lack of real Bible faith? Are you a doer of the word, and not a hearer only (James 1:22ff) or do you "say and do not"?
One "follower of God" who continually sets the wrong example before others can do more harm to the cause of Christ than 1,000 atheists actively opposing God with all their might. Christ warns, "Woe unto you. . . hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in" (Matt. 23:13).
Truth Magazine XX: 33, pp. 525-526