October 12, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In James 2, the discussion James is bringing is about faith:
• James 2:1-13 – showing forth your faith by treating all people equally, with love and respect.
• James 2:19-26 – Four Examples Of Faith – that faith must show itself in righteous works in your life. The four examples? – Demons (verse 19); the Foolish Man (verse 20); Abraham (verses 21-24); and Rahab, the harlot (verse 25).
We are on the second of Four Examples Of Faith – the Foolish Man, from James 2:20: “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” What constitutes a Foolish Man? According to Psalm 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” This is repeated in Psalm 53:1, and when something is repeated in Scripture, it is important! So, biblically speaking, the atheist is a fool! And one who does not even acknowledge there is a God is already under God’s condemnation, and headed for hell! (See John 3:36).
The seriousness of the matter is emphasized by Jesus in Matthew 5:22:
But I say to you, that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause
shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother,
“Raca,” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool,”
shall be in danger of hell fire.
Notice that this involves a brother, a fellow-believer! Notice also that the charges lodged against the brother are progressive – anger first, then “Raca,” then “You fool!” If you are a Christian, the only judgment of which you will be in danger is Christ’s judgment of believers (described in I Corinthians 3:11-15). “Raca” means empty-headed or worthless – an insult of utter vilification. The council refers technically to being called before the Jewish Sanhedrin. But the implication is that the insulting one is to be brought before a tribunal to be judged and corrected – not a pleasant proposition!. Calling out someone as “You fool,” is to suggest that a fellow-believer is godless and going to hell. This puts the accuser in danger of the same, not because he or she loses his or her salvation, but because it indicates that one never had experienced salvation in the first place (see Matthew 12:22-37).
Also, Jesus, in Luke 12:16 through 21, gives us the Parable of the Rich Fool – a man who had so much at harvest time, he could not store it all. So he planned to build bigger barns to hold his harvest, and then retire and live richly off his stored wealth. But in verse 20, “…God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ ” This man left God out of the equation of his life! He is justly called “You fool!” – a godless person who was without God in this life, and will be Godless for eternity!
Back to our scripture in James 2:20: “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” James is implying that a Christian ought to know that faith without works is dead. This should be quite obvious – from life’s observation, and Scriptural examples! If one does not know this, that one is acting like a godless fool!
Acting like a godless fool in this context of which James is talking about can spring from two conditions:
• One can be an immature believer who does not realize that scripture (as well as life) teaches that faith must have works. According to Hebrews 6:1, faith and works ought to be taught as “…elementary principles of Christ….” Such a one is said to be a babe, needing milk and not solid food, dull of hearing, not able to discern between good and evil, and needing to go on to perfection – to grow up into maturity in Christ! (Hebrews 5:11 through 6:3).
• Or one can be an unbeliever either pretending to be a Christian, or self-deceived into thinking they are a Christian. This one will be emphasizing works over true faith! Such a one often exhibits legalism – that you have to do or not do this or that, or be or not be this or that – just like them! – or you cannot be a Christian!
So this is the second negative example of Four Examples of Faith – the first being Demons, and the second the Foolish Man (or acting like a Godless person).
Don’t be a foolish person! Realize that your faith – if it is to be genuine Godly faith – must show in your life through good works!