True Faith = Transformation
October 27, 2023
“… do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:20-24, 26 NIV
Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” 1 John 2:4 NIV
True faith means obedience and transformation. This is exactly the point James and John are both making. If a person claims to have faith in Jesus yet continues to live their life as they did before, they prove to be a liar, lying first to themselves. God doesn’t just save us and leave us where we are. He works with us to transform us.
Every letter in the New Testament, every one of the gospels telling the story of Jesus, and the Book of Acts detailing the growth of the early church, tells us that just believing is not enough. Believing is the step that initially leads us to faith in Christ. But we complete that faith by actively following and obeying Jesus.
Jesus said that a true believer builds his house on the Rock that is Jesus—that is definitive, transforming action. He says a person who hears his words and DOES them is building (Matthew 7:24-27). He said that we are not just to believe IN Him … we are to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). He said that many will call him “Lord,” but He does not know us or acknowledge us as His followers if we are not transformed and obedient in our actions (Matthew 25). We are to be so transformed that we shine as lights in a world that is all dark around us, and that we are to live so differently that our very lives create a thirst for Him (Matthew 5:13-20).
All of these words and more, plus all the follow-up writings of the people who knew and followed Him and were entrusted with passing on the true faith, declare that living by faith means an ongoing transformation. It means that I am actively seeking to be more like Jesus, giving Him full access to every part of my life. When He asks me to subtract something or add something, I do it. I want to be distinguished by my Jesus-like character and love. Bit by bit I find myself seeing the new creation Christ promised to make of me when I came to Him, starting in faith and growing in an intimate journey of faith and trust.
- Paul said we have the opportunity and challenge to “live in newness of life” (Romans 6:12-13). Where are you most grateful for change? What are you and Jesus working on now?