Faith that works when the pressure’s on: Real faith versus fake faith
Our culture today is overrun with fake products — they look like the real thing, but they’re cheap imitations. Fake may work fine in some areas of your life, but when it comes to your faith, fake simply doesn’t work. In this message, Pastor Marty gives you five truths to test whether your faith is real.
Bottom-line: Faith without works is dead.
Something To Talk About:
What’s the use in saying you have faith, if it doesn’t show up in the way you live and the things you do?
- Real faith is more than just words I say: Jesus says faith is about what you do, not just what you say. Real faith is more than just the words they say. Just because you say you have faith doesn’t mean it’s true. The Bible is clear that we are saved by faith in Jesus, nothing more and nothing less. But our attitudes and actions should be evidence of our faith. This is the difference between a fake faith and a real faith. In this time of pandemic and upheaval, our faith must be real. Our response to these events should come from our faith and not our fears. This is a time to put our faith into action. You can use all the right words, but if your actions don’t line up with those words, it will quickly become obvious.
- Real faith is more than an emotion that I feel: You might really care about people. You might want to help them. But it’s your actions, not your feelings, that demonstrate faith. Genuine faith is practical. It gets involved in people’s needs. The Bible says in James 2:15-17: “ Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” Genuine faith produces compassion. It says, “I will help you with your burden and show you the love of Christ.” James is clear: If you go up to someone in need and simply share a platitude, you are demonstrating a fake faith.
- Real faith is more than an idea I debate: For some people, their faith is an intellectual game. It’s theology to be studied and doctrine to be debated. They’ll talk all day about God without letting him impact their lives. You can’t see faith, but you can see its impact. If you don’t see the impact of their theological concepts, their faith means little. Someone as big as God can’t come into your life without God completely changing it. If you grab a 220-volt wire of electricity, you would know it instantly. The same is true for your relationship with God. It will change your life, not just your intellectual commitments.
- Real faith is more than a truth I believe: Why? Because saying you believe in Jesus doesn’t mean you have faith in Him. It also doesn’t mean you trust him to fulfill His promises. James says faith is more than just intellectual knowledge; our belief and commitment to Jesus are reflected in the things we do. Our good deeds are evidence of our real and trusting faith. Your faith should change you and the things you do. There’s no better time than right now to take a stand for Jesus Christ and demonstrate your faith. As 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 says, “Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”
- Real faith is something I do: Real faith is what we do. So how do you know if you have real faith, one that will stand up to life’s biggest pressures? Take a look at your actions and see if they back up what you say you believe. People today are longing to see the kind of action-orientated faith that comes from seeing people live out what the Bible says by putting their faith into action.
- Think of something that is “easier said than done” and discuss why people’s words and ideas are often inconsistent with their deeds and actions.
- What is the object of authentic faith?
- What are the barriers to doing something every day that requires faith? What are the ways we can show real faith during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- In your own words, tell the story found in James 2:15-17 and determine the point James is making.
- How does your faith go beyond mere words? Why is a mere intellectual agreement to the truth, not enough?
- How is your faith being expressed through deeds? In what ways does your life match up with what you say you believe?
- How does your faith affect the choices you make and the things you do?
- In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says this: “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” How does this verse relate to this week’s devotional?
- What are some practical ways (or additional ways) you, or your small group, or the church can help hurting people right now?
- What can you do today to show others your faith in Jesus? How can you serve them, support them, encourage them, and even show them how your faith is changing you?
- In what practical ways can we put faith into action this week?
Take one thing home with you:
Scripture tells us that faith without works is dead. In other words, if the faith inside of us doesn’t get expressed through our actions, it will no longer be alive. In other words, if we don’t use it we will lose it. We have to step out in faith in order to keep faith alive.
James 2:26 says, “Just as the body is dead without breath,[a] so also faith is dead without good works. “ Works are the outward demonstration of something we believe in. In this case, the practical effect of faith in action. Faith and works are like a person in the Arctic with a warm jacket. Owning the jacket doesn’t keep us warm – wearing it keeps us warm. Wearing the jacket (faith) demonstrates we understand its purpose.
When we put our faith into action we will also have compassion for others. It means listening to one who is anxious or afraid. It means caring for one who is sick. It means helping those who are in need. Putting faith into action also means loving our neighbor as ourselves, even when our neighbor looks nothing like us. This kind of life is not optional for Christians. It is at the heart of our faith. When we serve others we serve our Lord Himself. This is how He has asked us to return His love.
When we put our faith into action, our lives will reflect the life of Jesus. This is what a relationship with Jesus is all about. It may not be easy. But we do not do it alone. If we trust Him, if we place our faith in Jesus, He will be with us and He will empower us to do His work – He will make it possible for us to put our faith into action.